The College Girl’s Guide to Balancing Work and School

Freshman year I had it easy. I had worked very hard from my junior year of high school to the summer before my first year of college to save money so that I wouldn’t have to work for the first year I was in college. If all else failed, I at least hoped to not have to work my first semester of college because the transition to college honestly scared me. I’m happy to say that I was able to reach my goal and didn’t have to work my freshman year of college (with the except of breaks), but I knew sophomore year I would have to find a job.

Now I’m a sophomore in college. I’m a full time student, part-time worker, blogger, involved in 3 organizations, strive to work out at least 3 times a week, and somehow want to squeeze in a social life. I feel like if I wasn’t so organized with my Erin Condren planner and Google calendar any form of organization would be thrown out the window. I have no choice but to manage my time well and be efficient if I want to get everything done and do everything that I want to. Today I thought that it would be fun to share with you my tips for finding balance having such a hectic schedule.

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No one is perfect/can do everything/has their life together.

First and most importantly, no one has everything together and is perfect at everything. I have to work my butt off to do well in my classes and some days I go home and fall into bed for a nap instead of hitting the gym. Even my younger brother who can effortlessly make his way through school talks about the stresses he faces trying to manage his organizations, social life, and AP classes. The first thing you need to know is, no one is perfect and can do everything. We all have our struggles, our off days, our insecurities, and our break downs, even if it’s someone that looks like they have it all together, they don’t. Don’t be fooled by a color coded planner and long to-do list, that’s just an attempt at (attempting) to stay sane.

Use a planner.

Yes I just mentioned not to be fooled by the color coded planners, but a planner is important. It’s the way I have a visual of my week and can see when I can get everything done. My school schedule is different literally every day and my job requires working evenings, weekends, and serving on-call. Taking the time to write all of this out allows me to figure out when I can do my school work, blog, workout, and hang out with friends. Some weeks I don’t make it to the gym other weeks I miss tutoring because I napped a little too long. It’s never perfect, but as long as I plan ahead napping through tutoring can be made up another day (sorry mom).

Say no.

I used to feel horrible telling someone no. Maybe I had Tuesday night off from work and have nothing planner but to get ahead on my accounting homework and a coworker asks me to take their shift. Technically, yes I’m not scheduled to be somewhere, but sometimes my schoolwork needs to come first. It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to miss things. It’s okay to call it a night at 8pm because it’s been a long week and you need rest. When you are running such a crazy schedule, it’s not always possible to say yes to every organization leadership position or extra shift offered to you.

Listen to your body.

My current job means that I have to serve on call shifts at least once a week. The first week of school I served three on call shifts and by Sunday night my body was aching because of it. I’m a girl that needs her sleep or I pity the people that have to deal with me. While yes it would have been nice to get ahead on some more of my marketing class reading, I instead listened to my body and went to bed. And let me just say, it paid off. I woke up early the next morning feeling refreshed and not only got ahead on my marketing reading, but also worked ahead on some things for my accounting class. If I wouldn’t have gone to bed early, I know I would have forced myself to stay awake late and attempt to do my marketing reading and sleep in the next morning when I could have gotten more work done. It’s super important to listen to your body and take care of it, especially as busy, stressed out college students.

Know when to give up sleep/get sleep.

I’m totally contradicting the above statement with this, but surely you guys will get me on this one. If you have a huge test tomorrow and are exhausted but still need to review, remember that you can give up sleep tonight and finally get some rest after your test tomorrow. If you know you have two days coming up with major homework, stay up to get it done and then get some sleep the next day. Or in my case, look at your work schedule for the upcoming weekend and excitedly write “SLEEP IN” in your planner since your alarm won’t be going off at 6:30 that morning.

Know your limits.

I’ve recently told a friend that if school didn’t take up any of my time and I could just come to university for the experience rather than school (stay with me here), I would be on Tour Team, I’d be in a business fraternity, I’d be an ambassador for RSVP, I’d be a Business School leader, I’d help with the marketing for travel abroad, I’d put out a lot more content on my blog, I’d work towards writing more e-books for my readers, and so on. But that’s not the case. Unfortunately, school takes up a lot of my time and I spend a crazy amount of time on school work outside of class. I have had to set limits and boundaries for myself so I don’t go overboard. I’m in school, working at a job that allows me to do marketing work, I blog where I combine my love for writing, photography, and networking, I’m involved in an amazing church and church group where I grow closer to my Lord and Savior each and every week, I’m a part of a marketing organization where I can meet with likeminded people and network with marketing companies, I work out at least 3 times a week to take care of my body and keep those around me sane (I pity the people that have to deal with me when I haven’t hit the gym), and I’m involved in an organization for business women who want to make an impact on our world. I’ve found my limits and some days I’m stressed to the max, but I’m doing what I love.

Develop a routine.

Hands down if you take anything away from this post, let it be that you make a routine. Even though your schedule is different every day (thanks college) have something set in place. I know that I wake up, get ready, have breakfast while I look over my to-do list for the day, work on school work, go to class, hit the gym, finish up school work, go to meetings/work, and then finish my night working on the blog. If you saw me on a Wednesday, which is the most hectic day of my week, my day goes a little more like wake-up, get ready, run to the bus stop, classes all day, work, shower, and squeeze in a little bit of school work or blogging before calling it a night. Even if it’s a routine like that, it’s a routine and you at least

Plan ahead

I always encourage that you take the time over the weekend, whether it’s Friday afternoon or late Sunday night, to do a brief outline of your week whether it’s in your planner, on a white board, or even on a piece of scrap paper. Write down the basics of your week, such as class times, your work schedule, and when you have organization meetings. From there add the next most important things such as going to tutoring/office hours and planning when you will do your homework and then add the fun things like dates with your boyfriend, blogging, and the gym. Will it stay this way all week? No. But you have an idea of what you want to do and can work your way through to figure out how it will get done.

Are you balancing work and school? If so, which of these tips do you utilize to get everything done? Are there any tips that you would add to this? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

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