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How to Balance Life and Work as a College Student

by Shelley Frost

In college, trying to balance work, school and your social life may leave you wondering how to fit it all in. With the freedom to choose how to spend your time, you may find yourself struggling to maintain your grades and keep up with new friends. If you find yourself wishing for more hours in the day, focusing your priorities and learning some time management skills can help you balance your college schedule.

Meet Your Personal Needs

Getting a good night's sleep or eating three healthy meals a day often seems impossible when you're zipping from class to class, studying, hanging out with friends and working. However, failing to meet those basic needs will only leave you drained and less able to fulfill your obligations. Get to bed early and take rest time during the day. Stock your dorm room with healthy snacks, like fresh fruit, nuts and popcorn without the butter. Many colleges offer free membership to the university gym, so take advantage of that opportunity.

Prioritize and Schedule

Following a schedule can ensure that you have time for everything, including just-for-fun activities. Sit down with a calendar and map out your must-do obligations for the week. This includes your classes and regularly scheduled work hours. Fill in any other commitments, such as regular study groups and volunteering. The rest of the time in your schedule is available to share between studying, "me" time and social activities. Blocking out that time for each type of activity helps you stay balanced. Find a division of time in your schedule that leaves you feeling satisfied and successful.

Organize

Chaos in your dorm room, backpack and other areas of your life means more wasted time. That homework assignment that should have taken an hour sucks up two hours of your time, because you can't find the notes or your textbook. Organizing the files on your computer helps you easily find notes and assignments stored there, and keeping everything backed up on flash drives avoids losing them. A smart phone app or planner used to track all assignments, tests and work hours is also a helpful way to stay organized. An organized work space with all of the basics you'll need, including pens, paper and reference materials, is key for studying and completing assignments. Keep chargers handy for laptops, smart phones and other tech gadgets that keep you organized.

Stick With It

No matter how much you prioritize, schedule and organize your life, college is full of temptations to lure you away from your good intentions. An impromptu dorm party, a call from a friend, a request to volunteer for another organization all add up to lots of spent time. You need some flexibility in your daily life, but you also need to learn to say no to requests that aren't beneficial. If that night on the town will leave you broke and behind on studying, pass on the offer. If that volunteer request takes away from another volunteering opportunity that is more important to you, it's okay to say no.

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