I wish someone had told me how to balance everything. Being in college, I have a lot going on every day, every week. I take 15 credit hours every semester and am actively involved in 3 organizations. I try to hang out with my friends, stay close with my family, and still make time for myself to relax and enjoy life. My biggest problem in balancing out all of these roles is that I easily turn into a workaholic and strive for perfection in all my classes. When I have to choose between going out with friends or perfecting the little details on a project, I choose the project. I'm also a workaholic within my organizations because I have a leadership position in two of them and have trouble saying "no." I usually end up volunteering for everything, overextending myself and winding up stressed when I come home from volunteering and still have mountains of homework to attend to plus a phone buzzing with invites from friends to come hang out or grab dinner.
When I started college, I kind of figured everything would fall into place and I would be able to do it all. I had never really considered who cleaned up in my house and who picked up the slack when I let my chores go. I no longer have my mom and dad cleaning the house all day while I'm in classes. I can't just ask my mom to wash my laundry because it's piling up and I'm super busy. My homework no longer consists of fill in the blank worksheets as it did in high school. All of my homework involves reading, writing papers, research, analysis, and creating lessons for students.
Last year I started to realize I need to say "no" more often and consciously choose to what I spend time doing so I can balance out all of these different aspects of my life. My biggest problem with this has been consistency. I can manage my time and balance everything for a week or two before I start to just work all day and stress and then wind up exhausted by Thursday. It's something I'm continuously working on, and probably will continue to work on for a long time. Some tips I've found helpful are to let perfection go, have a time when you stop working every day, and other time management tools like list making.
To let my perfectionist tendencies go, I've come to the realization that sometimes good enough is still good. For instance, I have a class where we're expected to read about 60 pages for every Tuesday and Thursday class, write at least a one page summary about that reading for each class, and produce a 3 page paper once a week about each unit. I've realized in this class it's totally okay to just read sections of the assignment and base the papers off of 12-16 pages rather than 60. I do not have time to read that much, analyze that much text, and produce 5 pages a week about these topics while staying on top of 3 other classes and a practicum that involves teaching 3 times a week and creating my own curriculum and lessons. It's okay to read just enough to complete these assignments. Good enough is good.
Having a quitting time is also so helpful. I try to stop working every day at 5 so I can have all evening to relax, work on stuff I enjoy like crafting, hang out with friends, and watch some TV. Most days it works well, but some days just don't happen the way you plan. Sometimes I have lazy days and don't start working until the late afternoon, so I work until 8 or 9. Oops! Most days I follow my quitting time and can enjoy spending some time away from homework to enjoy doing what I love.
I'm going to continue to (try to) balance all of these different parts of my life and hopefully I will eventually be able to do it with ease.