5 Ways to Skillfully Balance Work & School

A person's shoes balancing on a fence.Students, whether in high school or college, find it challenging to successfully navigate the burdens of school and work without wanting to tear their hair out.  It may seem too stressful, but it is possible!  It’s all about balance.  We’ve come up with 5 tips to help you create a manageable flow between your school and work lives.

1.  Use a Calendar or Planner.  They’re Your Friends!

Considering that one person think an estimated 70,000 thoughts per day, it’s no wonder we’re liable to forget new information, whether it’s an upcoming event or just simply something you need to remember for later.  That’s where a calendar or planner comes in.

Test out a few different types of planners and figure out what works best for you.  Most of you probably have an iCal or something similar installed on your phone, so why not use it?

Once you become aware of an event in your life with a deadline (a test, due date for a project, work meeting, and so forth), enter it into your calendar immediately, then set a reminder alarm.  If you set that reminder for a day beforehand, (or even multiple alarms) it’ll give you some relief.  You’ll take peace in knowing you’re organized;  you’ll be notified, even if it slips your mind.

2.  A Little R & R

You’re not a robot.  Every now and then, it’s important to clear your mind and rest your bones.  For every hour of studying or work, make sure to take a 5-10 minute break, especially if your job requires you to sit at a computer or a desk without much movement.  Go for a short walk and soak in some nature.  You’ll arrive back at work or to your homework refreshed and ready to concentrate.

3.  Leave School Out of Work & Vice Versa

It’s tempting to pull out your math book and work on some problems during your lunch break or while on babysitting duty, but try to resist.  Believe it or not, only about 2% of the population can successfully multitask.  While 89% of those with smartphones use them at their job, 45% also complain they’re already expected to multitask too much within their work situation.  So why add another element that makes your job even more difficult?

As difficult as it may seem, leave your phone in your pocket or purse.  The “what if there’s an emergency” excuse doesn’t hold water when you know you could easily be notified at work.

4.  Sleep Easy

It’s vital to get plenty of sleep to increase cognitive function, alertness and many other positive effects.  The National Sleep Foundation recommends that teens ages 11 to 17 slumber for 8.5 to 9.5 hours per night, while adults 18+ should get anywhere from 7 to 9 hours.  Easier said than done for most teens and young adults, but establishing a recurring night-time ritual will help.  If you always fall into the same routine, your body will naturally adapt and automatically enter a more relaxed state.

5.  Be Realistic

After you’ve sat down and mapped out your needed hours to effectively complete your work and school tasks, take a good look at what you’re asking yourself to accomplish.  According to the 2005 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), 55% of high school students study three or less hours per week, while a mere 8% study 10 hours per week.  While we could say this has to do with laziness, it also may easily chalk up to over-worked students juggling way too many facets of their lives to dedicate enough hours for studying.

Are you ending up still feeling overly exhausted and feel like a zombie?  Do you still find yourself stressed to the point where you lose sleep or it effects either work or school, or both?  You may be overdoing it, regardless of how much you think you can tough it out.  Keep in mind this also depends upon you as an individual.

20 hours of work and 25 hours of school (in-class, studying and homework) combined with other obligations may end up well for some, but not others.  If you aren’t sure, try handling both for a couple of weeks and see how your body reacts.  If you find yourself on the brink with stress flying at you from all aspects of your life, don’t push yourself.  Decrease your work hours and focus on school.  You body and mind will thank you for it.

Westface College Planning can help navigate the financial aid process from start to finish. To learn how we can help you call us at 650-587-1559 or sign up for one of our Tackling the Runaway Costs of College Workshops or Webinars.

Photo Credit: westpark