If you’re like most students, you probably imagined university as a place where you’d attend a few lectures during the week and have plenty of free time. These views may have changed after joining uni. Even though university provides a lot of freedom, you may still have other commitments, and it’s easy to experience ongoing time stress.
Time stress is when you feel as if you don’t have enough time to complete all the tasks that you should do. About a third of Australians experience time stress, which can lead to poor mental health and lower life satisfaction.
There will be many things that demand your attention during your time in uni. Schoolwork, extracurricular activities, possibly part-time employment, and your social life. Your most valuable resource here will be your time, so it’s critical to your success both inside and outside the classroom to learn how to make the most of it.
But what if you’re currently struggling with time management? What if you’re a procrastinator extraordinaire? Where do you start if you want to get back on track? We’ve all been there at some point, and with proper planning you can find a number of ways to help you manage your academic commitments and maintain a positive study-life balance.
We’ve got you covered if you’re ready to strike a good balance between study and life. In this article, we’ll share some quick and practical tips to help you achieve school-life balance so you can enjoy the fun aspects of university without jeopardising your grades.
1. Pause and Assess Where You Are
When you’re trying to find a balance between school and life, it’s a good idea to take a step back and look at the factors causing the imbalance and dissatisfaction. This step will help you identify what you are currently prioritising and what you are sacrificing.
If you devote all of your time and energy to your studies, it can put a toll on your physical and mental health. At least one in four students studying in Australian universities experiences mental health problems each year. Aim to constantly pause and rethink your priorities to ensure you find ways to improve your study-life balance.
Be mindful when making academic goals. Don’t overload your plate, because only you can tell when you’ve had enough. That is a recipe for failure and disappointment, both of which we do not want for you. Your objectives are designed to help you progress, but they must be realistic and appropriate. If you’re not sure if they suit that description, use the SMART approach to find out. SMART is the acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. You’ll be able to have a much clearer sense of what you want to achieve and how to get there if you use this strategy. You can also track your progress and make any adjustments.
2. Master Time Management
Time management plays a critical role in achieving a healthy study-life balance. It involves setting goals, planning, prioritising tasks, allocating enough time to each task, and completing them on time. When you manage your time wisely, you can avoid the stress that results from piles of assignments while making sure you get enough downtime to relax and recharge each week.
You can try time blocking, for example, working on your homework and assignments at specific times of the day. Another game-changing strategy is utilising time-saving strategies such as pre-preparing and freezing your meals.
3. Prioritise Your Wellbeing
When juggling multiple responsibilities, it’s easy to lose sight of your overall well-being. However, any time spent on self-care and relaxation can, in turn, reduce the amount of time you may spend studying, making it easier to balance your school and personal life.
Succeeding in your academic and personal life requires you to be emotionally, physically, and mentally healthy. Here are some tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle that provides more balance:
- Sleep for at least seven hours every night
- Exercise regularly
- Eat a healthy diet
- Learn how to keep anxiety and stress levels under control
- Create time to enjoy nature
- Practice mindfulness and meditation
- Create time for your hobbies and relaxation
4. Create a Schedule
One thing that can easily throw you off balance is pending assignments or a pile of tasks. That is why you should create a schedule.
Creating a schedule involves setting aside time for everything that matters to you, such as school work, exercise, work, family responsibilities, social downtime etc. You will always know what to do and when with a clear schedule. That way, you won’t have to pull all-nighters to complete assignments at the last minute or quit Netflix completely to study.
Check all your commitments for the semester and plan how you’ll accomplish them. Ensure you prioritise tasks based on their due dates and importance. You can also keep track of how long it takes to complete different tasks and update your schedule regularly.
5. Learn To Say ‘No.’
Learning to politely say no to people, events, and additional responsibilities that you do not need to take on will allow you to focus on your goals and achieve balance more quickly.
If you’re struggling to keep up with your schoolwork, it might not be the best time to take on more responsibilities at work. While you may earn extra cash by taking up an extra shift at work, you may have to do some trade-offs that will affect your academic performance. Likewise, if you’ve dedicated most of your time to your studies, you should learn when to take breaks.
Always be realistic about how much you can handle at any given time and politely say no when you already have too much on your plate.
6. Spend Time With Your Friends and Family
Socialising is necessary for your emotional, physical, and mental well being. If you maintain healthy personal relationships, you’ll have a support system that helps you cope with challenges in different areas of life.
Social downtime can encourage perseverance throughout college, increase your sense of happiness, replenish your motivation, and increase productivity and creativity, all of which are necessary for peak performance.
You can take time off to interact with your friends and family, either in person or online.
7. Stay Flexible
Achieving study-life balance is not a one-time fix, and you may not have a perfect balance all the time. A lot can change during a semester—your priorities, work shifts, lecture schedule, assignments, etc.
Maintaining a flexible mindset will allow you to reprioritise and update your schedule based on your current priorities or events. This will help you achieve a positive school-life balance no matter the changes in your life.
8. Focus on One Thing at a Time
Balance and trying to do everything simultaneously are two different things. Focusing on the current task until you complete it will make you more productive and lower your stress levels. Don’t overburden yourself by trying to think about everything at once! When you’re studying, focus solely on that and forget about your family or work responsibilities. When you’re out with friends or family, be present and avoid worrying about your upcoming assignments.
9. Pick a Job That Works for You
Balancing school and life can be more challenging when you need a part-time job to maintain a comfortable university lifestyle. Recent reports show it’s becoming increasingly difficult to balance work and tertiary study in Australia.
Instead of accepting every job offer that comes your way, try to pick the one that works best for you. A good part-time job should offer a flexible schedule that allows you to work around your university commitments. Keep in mind that your free time may vary each semester, the class schedule can change, and you may be unable to work normally during exam periods. Determine how many hours you can comfortably work in a week while leaving enough time for your studies and social life.
10. Avoid Procrastination
Even if you create a schedule, you’ll fall behind on your goals if you procrastinate.
Everyone at some point feels like doing anything but what they should be doing. Our phones and social media are usually a good escape. Every day, the average Aussie spends 51–109 minutes on social media.
If you procrastinate, you’ll end up with a burden that you can’t manage, leading to stress. So, follow your schedule and complete every task on time. You can also try to identify your distractions and eliminate them. For example, if you spend too much time on social media, keep your phone away or use productivity apps like Forest. You can reward yourself later with a few minutes of social media after completing the task.
You can use many strategies to achieve a healthy study-life balance—like using a well-planned schedule, socialising, and prioritising a healthy lifestyle. Achieving balance takes time, commitment, and experimentation. Sometimes you may consciously or unconsciously slide back into unhealthy habits, but it’s possible to change how you study and live—for the better.
If you need help with your schoolwork, turn to Zookal Study! We are available 24/7 to help you study smarter and more effectively—whether you need test preparation, assignment help, or smart study tools like flashcards.