If you are a college student, you know how it feels to be overwhelmed. The word “overwhelmed” may even be an understatement as to how you feel. Here are 7 steps to help you balance it all and *hopefully* will help you become less stressed throughout your time in college.
Step 1: Get your priorities straight
Juggling everything in college can be pretty stressful. That is why setting priorities is a great way to lessen the stress. Start by listing out all of the things that keep you busy from day-to-day. Examples are work, homework, class, eating healthy, etc. Now rank those things in order of most important to least important. From there you can see where you should be spending most of your time and where you should be spending the least of your time.
If you are using a planner with a time table such as a Passion Planner, Day Designer or iCal, assign different colors for different priorities. For example, work = yellow, socializing = blue, school = green, and so on. That way, when you look at your days or weeks, it will be very clear as to where you spend most of your time.
Step 2: Plan your days, weeks and even months
Now that you have listed out your priorities, you need to plan. I have been an avid planner since I was a freshman in high school and it has saved me so many times! Start by purchasing a physical planner or using a planner online, whichever works best for you. I currently am using the Day Designer planner. I love this planner because there is a page for every single day that includes a time table and a to-do list. Every week (usually Sunday) I write out all of my classes, club meetings, gym time and whatever else I have going on for that week. I write out things that are due at the top of the page for that day, and list things that I want to get accomplished that day underneath the to-do column. On Sunday I usually do a rough estimate of “to-do’s” and add more when each day comes.
In addition to weekly planning, at the beginning of every month, I write down everything that I need to do in the monthly planner section. Finally, in the beginning of every semester, I write down test dates, project due dates and dates of finals in the monthly calendar portions as well. I really feel as though the combination of time blocking and to-do list making works best to stay on top of everything day-to-day.
Step 3: Make every single day count
As a college student, it can become very difficult to stay productive throughout your days. When you have an hour or between class, it can be extremely tempting to watch Netflix, go on Twitter or take a nap. An easy way to prevent this is to think of every school day as a work day. Wake up like you are getting ready for a 9-5 (or if you like waking up later, act like you are getting ready for an 11-7). Be ready by the time you decide on and be productive for the next eight hours. It might seem daunting at first, but you will be surprised at how much you get done and that you won’t need to stay up until the wee hours of the morning doing work! If you are extremely productive during Monday to Friday (or even Sunday to Thursday) you don’t have to worry about school work or other tasks that are in your control on the weekends.
This technique works well for students that don’t also have work obligations throughout their days. If you have work during the week, you can try to make time as well! Block hours of your day that you will devote to school work and only school work.
Step 4: Get whatever you can done ahead of time
Getting things done early sounds like an absolute nightmare to many lifetime procrastinators, and believe me, I know what that feels like. However, getting assignments done early is a life saver. Even if you cannot complete the entirety of an assignment early, try to finish small parts of it every day before it is due. If you have a day with no homework, use this day to get ahead of assignments!
Step 5: Get in a routine
Having a daily routine might seem intimidating. Some people prefer having a strict morning routine and night routine, while others prefer to have a weekly routine. For me, I prefer having certain things that I do weekly. For instance, every Sunday I do my laundry, clean my room, buy groceries and plan my week. Even just getting in a routine once a week has saved me so much stress trying to figure out when to complete certain tasks. Over the summer when I interned at a PR agency, I made sure to have a morning routine as well. I made coffee, meditated with Headspace as I drank my coffee and listened to a podcast as I got ready. Find a routine that works best for you and stick to it!
Step 6: Learn to say “no”
Learning to say no is one of the most important ways to balance it all. As a busy college student, so many opportunities may arise that can be tempting to take advantage of. Make sure that whatever you say “yes” too, you can handle. Saying yes to everything can leave you feeling stressed and overwhelmed. If you have a test on Monday but haven't studied yet and are asked to go out Saturday, learn to say no and risk having FOMO to stay in and study. It will be worth it in the end!
Step 7: Make time for yourself
At the end of the day, making time for yourself is the best way to unwind. Taking time for yourself can be anything from getting a massage, reading a book, watching Netflix, taking a hot shower or just taking a few deep breaths. Whatever you can squeeze into your schedule to focus on yourself, do it. Even if it is just 5-10 minutes a day that you can spend on yourself, your stress levels and mental health with thank you for it.
Everyone’s lives are unique and I recognize that. Some people have a lot more to juggle in life than others. If you are someone that works insane hours while being a full-time student or have a child, being able to accomplish all of these steps might be impossible. However, I hope some of these tips can still be helpful for you to implement into your busy life.
Isabella is a senior at The Ohio State University majoring in Communication Technology and minoring in Fashion Retail Studies and Business. She is originally from Albany, New York and participating in her first semester in The PRactice as an account associate. She has interned in New York City for the past two summers at Public Relations agency Bacchus and home of “Say Yes to the Dress,” Kleinfeld Bridal. After graduation she hopes to return to the big apple working in PR or experiential marketing. She is passionate about fashion, ballet, pop culture, music and current events.