Striking a balance: School-life tips for online college students
For a busy college student, simultaneous school and life demands can be overwhelming, to say the least. Knowing how to achieve that perfect school-life balance may seem impossible. And figuring out how to balance work, school and life can be an even greater juggling act.
There’s no need to exercise acrobatic multitasking skills, though. Instead, read on to find out how improving time management, establishing healthy boundaries and being attentive to your needs can help you do your best.
And doing your best, or molding yourself into a well-balanced high achiever, is a much more rewarding pursuit than success at the expense of your physical and emotional well-being.
What is school-life balance?
School-life balance is a relatively recent concept that started to make waves in 2005. It taps into the idea that to do your best academically, enough time and attention should be allotted to your interpersonal relationships, personal needs and health. It’s all about making the most of your time, both in school and outside of it.
As you navigate many different expectations, it’s important to underscore that being a college student on its own is hard enough.
That’s why the busier you get, the more crucial it is to optimize your days and keep your priorities in check so you can stay on track—no matter what you’re doing.
Rather than spreading yourself thin and studying endlessly, it’s vital to consider that there are many factors that can impact one’s equilibrium, whether academically or personally. Studies show that maintaining a school-life balance can have a more positive effect on your overall mental wellness and school-related performance.
Time management and productivity tips
Having the confidence to accomplish what you set out to do for the day or week is the result of careful goal setting and sticking to your plans. In today’s digital age, we’re always online and always connected, so figuring out how to strike a healthy school-life balance may feel like a never-ending endeavor. But the following tips can make it easier to manage.
Set a schedule
Try to reduce unexpected interruptions or activities throughout the day, especially when you’re in the middle of projects or exams. Write out all your responsibilities, any standing appointments, assignments and tasks. Many online and phone apps help order your to-dos, including Todoist, Calendly and more. This popular round-up can help you identify which scheduling and organizing tools are best for you.
Research shows that organization, both in digital and physical spaces, can help you feel less stressed. Organizing your to-dos in a calendar or time management app reduces the pressure of having to remember your responsibilities and frees up your ability to focus on the tasks at hand.
Creating a to-do list also allows you to break up your online coursework and assignments into individual components that you can manage on a smaller scale.
Boost productivity with Pomodoro
The Pomodoro Technique is a popular and trusted tool for getting things done. Using the Pomodoro method, studying can become more enjoyable. It encourages you to work in 25-minute increments, followed by short breaks. The idea is to get you to shift gears: step away from the task you’re working on, meditate to clear your mind, reply to a friend’s email or get a glass of water.
Pomofocus is an in-browser and mobile-friendly timer that can help you focus in intervals and reduce distractions.
Acknowledging victories, even if small, can have a big impact on your overall attitude and approach toward a project. Don’t lose yourself in a hamster wheel where you’re constantly completing tasks with no recognition. Go ahead: pat yourself on the back for getting through something difficult.
Understand the effort you put into an assignment and compliment yourself on the skills you used to get it done. Treat yourself to something that’s special or meaningful to you (maybe it’s enjoying a dessert, watching your favorite TV show, ordering takeout or napping). Research shows that rewarding yourself after completing a task is tied to greater enjoyment in your work and motivation to keep going. Developing celebration points can make your quest for a school-life balance feel reachable.
Evaluate how much time you spend on non-essential tasks. Built-in phone tools and various online resources like RescueTime can do just that. You can also minimize distractions by turning off your computer’s Wi-Fi while studying.
Once you know and understand how your online hours are spent, you’re better equipped to reorganize and re-channel the so-called wasted minutes into useful activities.
Organize your life
You can have all the best tools to improve your efficiency, but you may find yourself asking when to draw the line when it comes to school.
As important as it is to work hard, it’s just as important to know when to stop. Setting boundaries is the other main component of achieving a healthy school-life balance.
Know when to disconnect
Studies and reports show that disconnecting is essential. Overstudying can make you feel depleted. Overcommitting to social events can have a similar effect. The power of “no” is invaluable. Treat it as a form of self-discipline that helps nurture and build self-compassion.
As a popular quote from Steve Jobs goes, “Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.” A good rule of thumb, especially when working on bettering your school-life balance, is to avoid taking on extra duties or responsibilities if you can help it.
Focus on reorganizing your time in ways that work best for you. Feel pressured to make it to a friend’s get-together? Say no, and instead spend that time with close family members or friends doing something that makes you feel recharged and rested. If you find yourself feeling constantly tired or with no time to yourself, you may need to take a break. Otherwise, burnout is inevitable. Be kind to yourself.
Before you know it, the power of saying “no” will become an indispensable part of your vocabulary.
Blur the line between learning and entertainment
Get a hobby that aligns with your online studies, especially if it’s something you can experience with loved ones. Fun books or movies related to your school interests can be a great way to unwind—all while expanding your knowledge base and spending time with people who matter most.
This bridging of interests is a way to view your academic pursuits as less of a chore or something to cross off your to-do list. It can also help you find new and refreshing ways to frame what you’re studying in class.
Schedule time for learning and fun
Identify when you’re able to engage fully with your studies. Is it early in the morning? In the evening after a work shift? Seize those hours and make them routine. Try to avoid scheduling conflicts that can interfere, and therefore, stress you out.
If you tend to go out on weekends, make sure your work is completed before then. This can help you feel more at ease, without worries that a deadline may be cutting into your day or night of fun. Compartmentalizing and establishing set times for work, study and play can help better balance your life.
Mind and body care
Dedicate time on your calendar for a daily dose of…yourself. Whether it’s deep breathing, 10-minute quiet breaks, moving your body, planning your next healthy meal, or connecting with a supportive friend, these practices help center you as you tackle all that you have to get done.
By being present and in touch with your needs throughout the day, the journey that you’re on becomes clear, rather than just the end result. Be aware of your process and growth, and, when in doubt, take a deep breath.
Adjust plans as needed
As you finally strike that balance between school and life demands, remember that change is ever-present. Staying open to adjusting set schedules can lead to greater satisfaction. After all, as the popular saying goes, “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.”
Pursue an online degree with Lynn University
Curious about exploring the benefits and flexibility of an online college degree? Reach your goals in an environment that works for you while managing your work-school-life balance. If you’re considering a bachelor’s degree, explore online degrees from Lynn University or request more information today.