Managing a hectic, dynamic schedule isn't always a cakewalk, especially as a working student. However, when you can master the art of creating a well-managed, organized schedule, a myriad of benefits follow.
Scheduling your time effectively helps you:
Understand what you can accomplish with your time
Ensure there's enough time for key tasks
Avoid taking on more than you can handle
Carve out time for family and friends, personal development and exercise
For a working student, there are rarely two days that look exactly alike.
As the school semester progresses, new projects commence and deadlines come and go. Where one class is the focus of one week, another class requires the majority of your attention the next. You also have to remember when to put down the books and change into your work uniform.
Even if you have a steady and consistent work schedule, a new semester with an entirely different class load may force you to tweak it more than once.
Achieving a work-life balance when you're dealing with a fluctuating student schedule is possible — it just requires some extra forethought. Here are four tricks to try:
This may seem redundant, but when you have a changing student schedule, it's important to find a weekly time for mapping out your upcoming plans. For example, you may choose to take time each Sunday afternoon to create a schedule for the week.
There are multiple tools you can use to plan out your week. Here are a few options:
A trusty pen and paper
A schedule management app
In addition to these weekly planning sessions, you should do a similar session before each new semester begins. Consult your syllabi and fill in all due dates for exams, quizzes, papers and projects. This will help you see which weeks will involve multiple overlaps or important deadlines versus those that will prove relatively light.
The first entries in your schedule should be essential actions, such as work shifts or classes. For other high-priority tasks, try to schedule them for the times of day when you tend to be most productive.
Separating essential and high-priority activities from less-urgent or nonessential tasks helps you decrease wasted time and cut back on procrastination.
Don't forget the “life” part of work-life balance. Schedule times to meet with your friends and family, engage in your hobbies and exercise. All of these things positively contribute to your school and work life. Exercise, for example, provides focus and boosts your memory and thinking skills.
These scheduled life activities don’t have to look like a five-mile run or a trip to the gym, either. They can be as simple as spending five minutes stretching and sipping some water for every 25 minutes of study time. When you return to your work, you may be surprised at how invigorated you feel.
Lastly, it's always wise to schedule in a buffer to account for unexpected events. These may include illness, extra shifts, classes that run over or anything else life throws your way.
Managing a schedule that is constantly in flux doesn't have to be a source of stress. By planning, prioritizing, creating balance and leaving room, you'll be well on your way to achieving a better school-work-life balance.