Top 10 Ways to Balance Student Life

Although I am a first-year student at DePaul, this first quarter has been very insightful in learning how to balance student life along with being a commuter student. There are several aspects to student life, including but not limited to academic studies, work, and social life. As I have been acclimating to a new schedule of work, college and interning, I found that it is crucial to do or implement these 10 things.

1. Make a schedule and stick to it

These past months, my schedule has morphed into something more complicated than it ever was. For one, I have two different class schedules for different days. Additionally, I have a work schedule that changes week to week, and a second job to work into each week. This is all on top of being a full-time student. I have found it is vital to write out my schedule on a calendar to be able to visualize the tasks and places I must be. For my work schedule I like to use Google Calendar. Below is an example of this week’s work calendar. I no longer write out my class schedule because I have gotten used to it.

2. Write out a list of assignments you need to do

Writing out assignments, similar to using a calendar, helps visualize the tasks at hand. Personally, I use the sticky note feature on my MacBook. Since almost all of my assignments are completed and submitted online, I found that having a list already on my desktop is most handy. Below is an example of my assignments sticky note for this week.

3. Alarm clocks are your friend

For my early mornings, I must have multiple alarms set. It is important to be strategic when setting the times. I feel it is really important to give yourself the right amount of time to get ready for the day. When setting my alarms, I factor in an exaggerated travel time (as if there was 15 minutes of extra traffic) and an hour to get ready. This allows me to get ready at my own pace while having time for breakfast and not skipping any parts of my morning routine, without the risk of arriving late. Below are some of my Wednesday alarms, and although slightly excessive, they do the job!

4. Carve out me time

I would not be able to have the schedule I do without making time for myself. Prior to school starting, I made sure that I would have weekends off from work. This gives me time for any extra homework or studying I may have to do, as well as errands I have to run, with extra time to just relax. On the weekends, I like to make sure to have time for friends that I couldn’t see during the week. This serves as time to get your life in order while also indulging in your passions.

5. Utilize idle time between classes

I have a few gaps between my classes during the week. I feel the best use of this time is to try to get an assignment or two done. Using this time productively pays off greatly in the long run. Knocking off an assignment that you would have had to do later in the day is very satisfying and helps with time management.

6. Prioritize

Time management is all about prioritizing. For one, that is doing more urgent assignments first. Additionally, however, it is about figuring out how you want to allocate your time. In my case, academic success and financial security are my top priorities. 

7. Don’t overdo it

When planning your various activities for the school year, it is important to keep balance in mind. Taking on too much leads to stress and less productivity. If you are unsure of how your schedule will pan out, give it a test! If you find that after a few weeks your schedule does not work, it is okay to cut down.

8. Ask for help

Whether it be work or school, there are almost always people who you can turn to if needed. Turning to a peer, teacher or coworker can be crucial in cementing your understanding of a topic or task. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, inquisition tends to pay off positively.

9. Invest in Your Space

The space in which you live and/or complete work is an important factor in your overall efficiency. Investing in your space can take form in both time or money. Taking the time to organize and upkeep your living space is vital to success. Investing in your space can also be making purchases that promote enjoyability or organization of the space.

10. Plan Ahead

Planning ahead ensures preparedness for any type of task. For me, this takes for in packing my bag for school and work the night before. Another example would be that I make sure my work uniform is cleaned and folded at least 24 hours before a shift.

~ Marcela