Oh man, I seriously feel like I haven’t had the time for us to have one of our little heart-to-heart advice things that I do here because this semester is CRAZY. Holy hell, it’s INSANE for me right now, and I’m sure you’re really feelin’ the weight of yours, too. Which is why I was inspired to write this post.
This semester is unlike anything I’ve had before because I have more commitments now, more classes, and I’ve really stepped up in some roles. I’m taking seven classes (which I don’t recommend doing!), I got a small part-time job on campus cuz ya girl needs that cash flow, I’ve moved up to an e-board position for a club I’ve been part of for two years now, I’m taking a bartending class for a certification, and I’m assisting with the sports broadcast on my campus. Oh, and I’m also on the brink of creating my YouTube channel and blogging, even though I haven’t been sticking to my usual blogging schedule as of late (I promise I’m still here!!!). So a lot of people get surprised when they see me Snapchatting from the gym and they ask me how I even have time for all that.
Not gonna lie, it took me a few weeks to stop staying up till 3a.m. to do homework, and to finally feel less overwhelmed even though the amount of work I’ve been getting isn’t getting lighter anytime soon. I really believe that a huge chunk of success and feeling happy in college is due in part to effectively balancing all of your obligations, so I’m sharing what I’ve been doing to manage all the hats I wear. It can be so easy to feel like you aren’t paying enough attention to your school work, or like you’re missing out on all the fun stuff your friends are doing because you just have so much on your plate. If you’ve got a crazy semester and you aren’t quite sure how to balance everything, read on to find out!
1. Make use of your weekends as much as you can.
It’s totally fine to have a lazy, unproductive day once in a while, and Saturdays and Sundays are perfect for that. But you’d be surprised by how much more chill your weekdays get when you finish all or most of your assignments during the weekend. The assignments in each of my class feel like mini projects because they require so much time, attention, and iced coffee, so I know that the weekends are my best bet for planning their completion and, well, completing them!
Plan everything out ahead of time in your planner so you know what needs to get done (if you don’t have one yet, check out my thoughts on the ClassTracker Planner!). The list might be daunting, but if you use the weekend to tackle them, you won’t have to lose sleep doing the assignments during the week.
2. Grab dinner with friends and use that time to socialize.
I mean, you have to eat at some point so you might as well turn dinner into hangout time for you and your friends. I know your schedules won’t always match up but even if you’re able to eat dinner together twice a week or three times a week, you’ll still get in some much-needed squad time. It doesn’t even have to be a meal—sign up for a fitness class together; join a club together; study together.
3. Be open to change.
I’m a meticulous planner, but I’ve definitely come to realize that—in the words of former Seventeen EIC Ann Shoket—life is messy and you need to embrace the mess. I know that planning things out can help you stay on top of your schedule, but don’t try to plan your day out down to the last minute because it will only stress you out if things don’t go the way you needed them to go. Have a general idea of what you’re doing during the day, but be flexible enough to go with the flow if things don’t work out.
4. Don’t save things for the last minute.
This goes with what I was saying before about getting all your shit done over the weekend. If you wait until the day before an assignment is due before you actually start it, you’re likely going to hole yourself up in your room until you finish, and you’re going to stress and won’t be able to take care of any other obligations you have.
5. Get in the habit of waking up early.
I know no one wants to ever have to do that but if you’ve ever had an 8a.m. class or work an early morning shift, you’re already familiar with the absolute *joy* of waking up at the ass crack of dawn. Actually, this is what I started doing in order to get my workouts in! On days I know I won’t have time to go to the gym at night, I wake up two hours before my first class and I work out. It’s honestly more refreshing and I actually don’t feel tired during the day! I shower afterward, so I’m really awake and I reward myself by dressing extra cute and doing my makeup a little extra nice.
If you think you need more hours in the day, just try waking up earlier to better accommodate your schedule. You might find that it’s the perfect time for you to study, or hit the gym, or pick up on that passion project you’ve had to step away from. You don’t have to be up at 5a.m. to do things; start small.
6. Set reminders for yourself.
I like scheduling my obligations into my phone as I make plans so I don’t forget anything. Gotta FaceTime your best friend at 5p.m.? Have a study group at 4:30 that you can’t miss? Schedule them in case you forget! I like setting my reminders for 20 minutes beforehand so that in the event that I do forget, at least I have some time to recover from the initial surprise and re-plan if needed.
7. Do work in between classes, if you can.
When my classes were really spaced out, this was my ultimate secret to almost never pulling all-nighters, but now that I have almost no time in between, I can’t really do that. But if you can manage to complete a few assignments while you wait for your next class, you’ll have more time at night to go out, attend club meetings, work, and even just have some chill time.
8. If you can’t take on more, DON’T.
This is the time when everyone and their mother wants you to join their club, or apply for their thing, or pick up an extra hour at work. Biting off more than you can chew will make it more difficult for you to keep up with everything else going on for you. I so badly wanted to also be a writing tutor this semester, and I even applied for the position but didn’t get picked and honestly it worked out for the better because I don’t even know when I’d have the time to tutor! Remember that you also don’t need to fill in every single gap in your schedule. Try to leave a free hour or two that you can use to relax if you really need it!
9. Be honest about your schedule.
So yeah, this goes hand in hand with my last point…to avoid piling on your plate, you have to be honest about what you can and can’t do. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t know how to say no to people and it always comes back to bite me in the ass when I’m suddenly overwhelmed because I have so much going on—ugh! Just because you’re free when someone asks if you’re free doesn’t mean you have to use that time to do what they want you to do. Maybe you’d like that time to unwind and treat yourself. Or maybe you want to reserve that time to hang out with a friend or special someone. Simply say that your schedule is really packed and you can fit anything else in—even if they swear on their mother’s father’s aunt’s cousin’s uncle’s grave that it won’t take up much time at all.
10. Only take on the meaningful obligations.
Something I’ve definitely come to realize is that it’s better to have one or two big obligations that make a significant impact for you than to have a bunch of small things here and there that you can hardly talk about. Sure, the small things might be fun and nice, but if you’re spending so much time and energy on those obligations and you can’t really use them to help yourself down the line, it might be time to walk away. Focus one one or two things that you can really put your attention into. You’ll get more out of the experience because you won’t be running your energy levels dry on five different things! If you feel like you need to drop culinary club and the math society to have an internship geared toward your desired career, it’s probably better to just do the internship.
I want to hear how your semester is going so far! What’s your favorite part of the week and what’s your least favorite?