Do you feel like you have too much on your plate?
Between your exams, homework, extracurricular activities, chores, and a part-time job… your schedule is packed.
You feel like you don’t have enough time to sleep and relax.
And you also feel like you don’t have enough time for your friends and family.
School-life balance isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity.
Without it, you won’t be a successful or happy student.
By striking a balance, you’ll have more time to pursue your hobbies, improve your health, and connect with the people you love.
You’ll also get better grades while preventing mental and emotional burnout.
The good news is that any student can learn how to create an optimal balance between school, work, and other important things in life.
In this article, I’ll share some of the best tips on how you can achieve this.
(If you want to improve your focus and reduce procrastination, make sure to download the free quick action guide below.)
Benefits of school-life balance
Are you constantly feeling stressed or overwhelmed? If so, you probably need to create boundaries in your life.
Besides reducing stress, a healthy school-life balance can lead to some important benefits:
- Greater mental clarity: Achieving balance means that you’re getting enough sleep and rest. Sufficient sleep boosts your memory and learning. It also helps your brain to consolidate new memories, helping you to remember what you learn.
- Higher productivity: Having school-life balance ensures that you don’t push yourself too hard. Research shows that increasing the number of hours spent working doesn’t increase output beyond a certain point. The lack of a rest day also decreases productivity.
- Improved physical health: Attaining school-life balance means that you have time to work on your fitness and health. You’ll have the time and energy to eat healthily and exercise regularly.
- Improved mental health: Giving yourself time to rest, play, and hang out with friends and family can reduce stress and anxiety. Regular exercise also builds emotional resilience.
- Academic success: Leading a balanced life enables you to be more productive. You’ll be able to focus and absorb information better during class, which will lead to an improvement in your grades.
- Greater happiness and fulfillment: You’ll have the time to pursue your interests, serve others, and nurture meaningful relationships.
As a student, one of your main responsibilities is to learn as effectively as you can in school. But this pursuit should never come at the expense of your health and relationships.
How to balance school, work, friends, and family
Working part-time as a student comes with many benefits, besides a paycheck!
You’ll get to explore career options, develop skills, and improve your résumé.
But you’ll burn out quickly if you don’t manage your time and priorities well.
These tips can help you strike a balance between school, work, and your personal life:
1. Prioritize your tasks
Have a daily to-do list of the tasks you plan to complete.
Arrange them based on urgency and how much time they’ll take. Add these commitments to a daily schedule, ensuring you have some buffer time between each item.
Also, make sure to allocate time for rest and family.
2. Set realistic goals
Break down big academic goals and projects into smaller chunks. Make sure that each sub-task is specific and measurable.
For example, you might decide that you’ll read and take notes for chemistry chapter three from 4 to 6 p.m. on Monday.
3. Use time management strategies
Time blocking is an effective method in which you divide your day into smaller segments of time.
Each block is dedicated to one type of work only. You can also group similar tasks into a time block to boost your productivity.
The Pomodoro technique is another strategy I recommend. This technique involves dividing your time into 25-minute blocks of focused work followed by short breaks.
4. Reduce distractions and procrastination
Find a conducive environment in which to study, and turn off all notifications while you’re working.
Ensure your study space is clutter-free by keeping only the required materials and stationery on it.
5. Create clear boundaries and cut-off times
As far as possible, keep to a fixed cut-off time for your work and studies.
For example, you might decide that you’ll stop studying at 9 p.m. each day and that you’ll only handle work-related matters during your shift.
You also need to be aware of your limitations.
If your work is affecting your grades, sleep, or health, consider taking a break or speaking to your employer about working shorter hours.
6. Schedule time for exercise and sleep
The three pillars of health to prioritize as a student are the following:
- Diet: Research has found an association between healthy eating and better academic performance. Fruits and vegetables provide nutrients like vitamins C and E, iron, and folate. These nutrients are linked to better thinking skills and school performance. Researchers have also found a link between high consumption of processed foods and sugar with poorer memory and learning.
- Sleep: Getting enough sleep can help you remember, store, and apply the information you’ve learned. Scientists have even discovered that sleep can improve memory retention and recall by 20-40%.
- Exercise: Regular physical activity can improve focus, attention, memory, and learning. It also boosts your planning and language skills. The World Health Organization recommends that most teenagers engage in at least 60 minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity a day on average.
7. Be structured about the time spent with your friends
Some students spend too much time hanging out with their friends, while others neglect their social life.
To find balance, decide how much time each week you’ll spend with your friends on average.
For instance, you might decide that you’ll hang out with your friends for 2 to 3 hours outside of school each week on average.
Of course, you might not be able to keep to this all the time. But it’s always better to have a rough guideline in place rather than to make decisions on the spot each time.
8. Participate in productive or meaningful activities with your friends
You can suggest to your friends that you participate in activities together, such as:
- Joining the same clubs or extracurricular activities
- Working out, hiking, or learning a new sport
- Studying and doing assignments
- Running errands
- Doing volunteer work
Carrying out these activities in a group offers opportunities to build and develop strong friendships.
You’ll also be doing things with your friends that you would have otherwise done alone, so you’ll be saving time.
9. Discuss routines and schedules with your family
Being proactive about discussing the plans for family events, meals, chores, etc., will reduce conflict and stress.
For example, your whole family might commit to having family dinners together at 7 p.m. on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. You might also have a family outing or activity scheduled every other weekend.
It’s also a good idea to discuss your chores and household responsibilities with your parents.
You can create a family chore chart that lists the tasks each family member is responsible for. For instance, you might be responsible for doing the laundry every Monday and walking the dog every Wednesday.
10. Make the most of your study time
Every student can achieve school-life balance. It just boils down to managing your time, prioritizing, and drawing healthy boundaries.
To study productively, I encourage you to:
- Break big tasks down into smaller ones to reduce procrastination
- Make sure your environment is distraction-free
- At the beginning of each day, create a brief daily plan that lists the specific tasks you intend to complete
You can also experiment with various study techniques, including:
As a student, it’s important to set boundaries and keep to them. You might also need to adjust these boundaries over time.
If you’re always tired, stressed, or unhappy, it’s a good time to reflect on how you could attain a better school-life balance.
After all, a happy and healthy student is a productive student!
(Don’t forget to download your free quick action guide below.)