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9 Tips for Creating Balance Between Work and College

(Originally appeared on iGrad from Student Choice)

College students are a good example of how stress can be a physically manifest of imbalance. Thanks to the rising cost of education, students are usually forced to work twice as hard to increase their income. Public Agenda reported that 45% of university students work more than 20 hours per week, on top of completing requirements for their course load.

This stress from work-study imbalance can cause students to fall ill or drop out. Here are some tips to help students balance work and school responsibilities without succumbing to stress:

1.) Organize your tools. Your desk reflects your mind; if your desk is cluttered then chances are you’re not thinking clearly, either. Have your work and school bags separate (if necessary). Clean your desk and keep everything organized.

2.) Learn to compartmentalize. When at work, focus solely on work. When in school, focus only on what your teacher is discussing. Learning to compartmentalize is the best way to make sure you’re not failing at your various endeavors. If you spend your time at school thinking about work, then you’re not learning and you’re wasting your valuable time. When appropriate, leave work at work and school at school.

3.) Create a schedule. Time management is one of the most important things you have to learn. Use an online calendar or a physical calendar—whatever works for you is fine. Mark your work schedule and your school schedule (use different color markers) then block out your study time at home. Be sure to give yourself enough breathing space and room for flexibility, in case something comes up.

4.) Don’t take on more than you can handle. It’s important to know your limitations. If you have to say “no” at work or school, then do so. Don’t take on extra shifts you can’t handle, and don’t volunteer for school projects you can’t complete. Prioritize the things that matter.

5.) Talk to your boss and your professor. Letting your boss and your teachers know about your situation will prevent difficulties down the road. Being upfront gives you enough leeway and they will likely be more amenable to certain requests. Just make sure to not come off like you’re prioritizing one over the other, as it might be taken in a different and negative manner.

6.) Ask for help. You don’t have to do this alone. Your family will support you. If you need someone to walk your dog or pick up your daughter because you’re busy, say so. You don’t have to do everything alone and the people who care for you will be glad to help out in small ways. Just remember to express your appreciation.

7.) Remember what motivates you. When things get tough, you might be tempted to just give up. At this point, remember your reasons for going to school and working at the same time. It helps to have visual reminders, so you can put up a slogan, a picture of your loved ones, or anything that will push you when you’re feeling down.

8.) Take time out to relax. It’s important to schedule your work hours and your school hours, plus the hours spent for studying at home. One thing you ought to schedule, too: a time out. Make sure to take a break or stress will definitely break you. If necessary, schedule a couple of hours for yoga or tai chi to help your body and mind relax. For that couple of hours, do whatever it takes to give yourself a respite from the hustle of your work-school life.

9.) Manage your expectations. You’re not superman (or superwoman). Despite your best efforts, it’s likely that you’ll still hit some snags along the way. It’s best to know right off that you’re trying to handle a lot of things at the same time, and that you’re bound to experience some failure at some point. Remember that as long as you’re still doing well in school and at your job, one or two changes to your schedule don’t really matter. Don’t aim for perfection.

What are you doing to find balance between work and school? Share with us in the comment box below!

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