Imagine juggling three sizzling pans, trying to finish cooking them all at the same time while not burning or messing up anything. Now you understand what it feels like to balance an academic job and a full class schedule. I constantly need to switch between styles of writing, different subjects and different methods of research. Free time and relaxing sound like nothing more than long lost friends. Does that sound stressful or what? I know I’m not the only one with this problem. So how does one find the balance? The simple answer: very, very carefully.
Break out the Pen and Paper
Before you even try, don’t bother forcing yourself to remember everything, because you won’t. Recent Luther College grad Webster Gehring worked as a TA and resident assistant his senior year. He said keeping track of everything involves a little bit of luck and remembering to write everything down on paper.
Luther College junior Samuel Haefner agreed that keeping a schedule will un-complicate your life. “It may not always be easy in the short-term, but at the end of the day you’ll be thanking yourself more than one would imagine,” Haefner said. Try some markers or pens to color code and keep track of everything or pick up a colorful planner to keep your schedule exciting.
Own your mistakes
Gehring explained that when you deal with multiple jobs, classes and other responsibilities, you can’t avoid making a mistake. “Sometimes you miss a deadline or forget an assignment. It happens. Communicate clearly, apologize sincerely, don’t make excuses, accept the consequences, and rectify the issue as quickly as possible,” said Gehring. Don’t expect perfection from yourself. After all, even so-called “perfect” Rory Gilmore made a ton of mistakes. If she survived, so will you.
Besides all those 400 level classes, one of the hardest parts of college revolves around knowing when and how to say no. Who wants to turn down that raging frat party or refuse that extra project that will please your professor? But just like exercise, it’s a necessary evil. “There was a point this past semester where it finally occurred to me that I was involved in too many activities,” said Haefner, who juggles his schoolwork and jobs in the music department and the Tech Help Desk. “I loved every one of the activities I was involved with. Saying ‘yes’ to so many organizations turned into me saying ‘no’ to important things such as sitting down for a full meal and relaxing with friends.”
Maintaining your health and sanity means not saying “yes” to everything and making time to relax, eat regular meals, exercise and spend time with friends—even if it means having one less responsibility. Sit down, eat a cookie and laugh at some Youtube videos. Your body will thank you. Don’t worry, you won’t instantly turn into a pariah after missing one party.
Sometimes college feels exactly like running on a hamster wheel when you need to get everything done all at once. Just like the way a hamster knows when to get off and take a break, you shouldn’t force yourself to run forever. Do yourself a huge favor and get off the treadmill for a water break.