Studying can be the best or worst part of your life, or it can be a weird hybrid of the both. Some days you’re conquering the world with 6 am starts and nailing your studies and other days you’re binge watching 13 reasons whilst refusing to leave your bed even though you had class at 9am. Balance right?
I’m currently in week 6 of my new double degree, which by the way is hard. Like really hard. This is probably the most challenged I’ve been in my 6 years of tertiary education but not in the way you might think. My biggest challenge is balance. How in the world do I balance working to support myself, exercising, 30 hours of reading a week, actually attending uni, assignments, eating well, sleeping enough, looking after myself, having time for hobbies and socialising?
Those are a lot of things to fit into the day and boy can it be overwhelming trying to. The key to life, whatever your circumstance, is a good life balance. It is vital to our health, to our wealth, to our relationships (even with ourselves). It is just important. Those in their 20 somethings are known as the burn out generation, and of all the things we could be called, that is certainly not one we should accept. We have more accessible to us than our parents and grandparents ever did, we are not the technology generation so we’re not totally overcome with a dependent need for technology, we have a bigger platform than ever before to grow, travel, learn, make big impacts and build empires and yet we are crumbling under the pressure. So where do we learn to harness the power of our circumstances, rather than succumb to it? That I believe lies in balance; in the balance between responsibilities and things that make us crazy with passion and fire.
There have been two nuggets of wisdom shared with me over my time that have resonated with me. Firstly its the notion that balance is not equal or rigid. When the beautiful Ange Simpson, dropped that one on me, I was gobsmacked. I had always thought that balance was this big umbrella of a structure that you couldn’t deviate from; that everything that you balanced in your life was created equally and needed an equal amount of attention. What I have learnt from this is that, balance is something that feeds you and feeds your goals in life. What balance looks like for me, will not look like for you and thats so important to remember. There will also be times where you’ll be bogged down with work for weeks at a time, and then you’ll spend weeks making socialising important. That is still balance. It just swings depending on what goals are important to you at the time.
Secondly, there are 24 hours in a day. It is written somewhere that we should break our day up into three sections, 8 hours of sleep, 8 hours of work and 8 hours of play. As much as that ideal sounds amazing, in the real world thats not necessarily the case. We spend 8 hours at work, about 2 hours commuting there and back, we exercise, make dinner and breakfast, do some housework, run errands and if we’re lucky we have 1 hour of play left to get that 8 hours of sleep in. Its a really unrealistic way to live your life BUT it’s also a great thing to put into the back of your head. If you’re someone who spends too much time working and wants more time to socialise or do things for you then keeping this in mind helps to keep our work levels in check.
There are 5 things that help to find that perfect balance in your life.
- Set your self-love non-negotables.
These are the things in your day that you will never compromise on. These are the things that you do for yourself every day despite what your day will look like. This is different for everyone but self care is super important and the most important part of achieving balance in your life. This can look like a morning routine thats just for you, turning your phone off for an hour to spend with your family or partner, it could be playing music, exercising etc. Things that should be on everyones non-negotiable is enough sleep and eating well. Write a list of 5 things that you have to do each day just for you. Not only will this help you be more productive during the day but you’ll find your stress levels will reduce and you’ll feel less overwhelmed by the large list of things you need to do.
- Set goals.
Goals are super important for any aspect of your life. If you’re doing anything, you have to set goals. Goals are not only important for you to reach your dreams but also provides a spark and purpose to your life. First start with an overarching goal. Why are you doing your degree? If you’re working, what is it you’d like to achieve this year? From there break down your goals into smaller ones. What would you like to achieve this semester? What would you like to achieve this week? Setting goals will not only help you to be productive, you’ll find that if you have a full schedule achieving daily goals will minimise that overwhelming feeling of having too much to do and will guide in what it is to prioritise right now.
- Prioritise and set Boundaries!
If I had a dollar for every time I tried to do everything at full speed and then burnt myself out, I would be a very comfortable lady. Prioritising is the key balance in your life. Of course your non-negotables will be high or your priorities list, feeding who you are will allow you go out there and reach all the goals you have! From there work out what it is at this time that needs the most attention. Is it your study for the next 12 weeks? Is it your need to earn enough money to live? Is it your sports team? Is it your work? Don’t fall into the trap that only 1 thing will be the highest on your list. After your self care you may have 3 things that are equally as important. If this is how you’re feeling write down which one is most important to you. For example for me my priorities lay between acing my uni semester, working to earn a living and spending time doing something fun. In this case depending on the day or the week, one of these will be the main focus. I have made university my first priority. This means that although I love working and need the money to live, I will not compromise on study time to work. However this may change some weeks. If I have a slow week at uni I may pick up an extra shift or work overtime. The same goes for my need to adventure. I know this is vital to my mental health, so some weeks I will take a morning off to spend socialising or exploring but study always comes first and I work my priorities around that. This week I spent half of my holidays doing things non uni related knowing that the next few weeks will be completely focused on studying and not have as much time for exploring. And that my friends is balance.
- Listen to your body.
This is a really important point. If work is really crazy, or you’re getting sick, or you’re feeling tired or flat, listening to your body will help you. Balance is about keeping you feeling good both mentally and physically. If you’re putting in lots of effort at work and feeling flat, schedule time in to rest. If you’re tired, schedule time in to sleep more, have relaxing activities planned and dedicate more time to eating and preparing good meals. This is where we learn that balance isn’t fixed. Balance is achieving your goals whilst still listening to your body. If you’re rearing to go, then fill up your schedule! If you’re feeling tired, then leave yourself some room to love yourself a bit more by resting and taking things slow.
A funny thing happens when you start to think about these things. You work out what really is important to you, you start to listen to your body a lot more and life becomes a little easier. Build your schedule around what is important to you. If thats building a career and building an awesome body, build a life that balances those things. If spending time with friends is super important to you, then schedule time to have genuine time with your friends. Any thing you schedule into your day should be given your full attention, you’ll find that you’ll only have time for things that have meaning to YOU and you’ll have more time do to the things you love and spend less time at extremes aka day long Netflix binges followed by guilt study.