Written by: Omer Ozkaya, Rising Sophomore at Northwestern University, FLI Program Participant

Why is it important to balance school and social life?

Before getting into the how, we must understand why school-life balance is important. School-life balance is vital to a student’s health, wellbeing, and academic wellness. If social life is neglected, the student could do worse academically. Overworking oneself can lead to burnouts and increased stress levels, and excessive stress “can cause or exacerbate many serious health problems,” such as depression, anxiety, and cardiovascular disease (WebMD). If school is neglected, the student will receive bad grades and might delay their graduation date. Although it may not seem that important at first glance, from the aforementioned information, it’s evident that school-life balance is important. 

So How Do You Create a School-life Balance?

There’s a book I recommend called, “Getting Things Done” by David Allen, which goes in-depth how to be productive without getting stressed. The audiobook is only $15 and the physical copy is as low as $16 on Amazon. Down below, I have listed a couple things (not necessarily from the book) to help balance school and social life, however, I would definitely check the book for a better guide to leading a balanced life. 

Set Priorities

List things that you spend time on which aren’t productive related to academic success. This includes eating, sleeping, shopping, cleaning, etc. Also include things like going to parties or going out. Try to fill up this list as much as possible. Next, review the list and group similar items together such as sleeping and brushing your teeth. Afterwards, rate the items on the list based on enjoyment from 1-10, 1 being “mostly painful” and 10 being “very enjoyable”. Now rate them items again on an obligatory scale from 1-10, 1 being “not necessary” and 10 being “must do.” Lastly, combine the two scores for each item and order them from most important (highest points) to least important (lowest points). This will help you to prioritize things and help you balance your lifestyle alongside your schoolwork. (MTU)

Create a Schedule/Calendar

Using the list that you created, and including your school related duties, create a daily and weekly schedule. Put this down in a calendar or planner so that you can follow your schedule properly. For example, for your weekly schedule, you might put that from 3-4PM on Wednesday you’re going to work on math homework. For your daily schedule you might set aside time to go to the gym or work out. Aside from creating a daily and weekly schedule, create a list of tasks that you have to complete that day in the morning of each day. As you complete the tasks, cross them off; this can give you a sense of accomplishment and can help motivate you to finish the remaining tasks. Also, make sure you leave time for yourself! Don’t flood your schedule. The important thing here is to not slack off on the things you put down, or else there won’t be any meaning in making the schedule. 

Avoid Procrastination

This one goes without saying, however, this is very important. Don’t procrastinate on your work! If it’s a small task, get it done and get it out of the way. This clears it up from your mind and allows you to relax properly. As mentioned before, create a schedule for big things like long assignments or studying for finals. This will help you to turn things on time and there won’t be the anxiety of schoolwork while doing a fun activity. 

Study Effectively

Everyone has different ways of studying, but a popular way of studying, and even managing your time, is the Pomodoro Technique. The Pomodoro Technique is a time-management method invented by Francesco Cirillo, and the gist is this: pick a task you want to focus on, create a timer for 25-30 minutes and work, when the timer is up take a two-to-three minute break, repeat, after four sessions, take a longer break, and record each working session with a mark somewhere. (Forbes). This really helps if you get easily distracted, and from my personal experience, it’s very effective when done properly. 

Other Important Things and Conclusion

These are a couple of important things that can help you to manage your time and create a school-life balance.

  • Sleep: you should ideally sleep for eight hours a day, however, the minimum amount of sleep required for a person differs (Sleep Foundation).
  • Exercise: exercising is really good for your health and can improve your quality of life (BetterHealth).
  • Coordinate your free time with friends.
  • Work in places like the library or somewhere quiet to increase your productivity.
  • Eat properly: eating properly is very important for your health and wellbeing; don’t eat only ramen for breakfast, dinner, and lunch.
  • Join clubs: this will help you meet people with similar interests and can offer as a destressor in some cases.
  • Resist temptations: don’t give in to everything that your friends ask; you can’t always go out when your friends want to; remember what your priorities are.

To conclude, remember that balancing your social life and school is vital to your health and wellbeing. Try your best to find a balance between these two opposing forces, and remember, there is no universal solution for this, so experiment and find out what works best for you!

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