Hilary Clinton once said, "Don't confuse having a career with having a life." By this, the former US Secretary of State wanted to draw a clear line between personal and professional life. But if you add studies on top of it, it’s true it can get slightly messy.
This being said, your private life, work and studies can be reconciled. Think of your days as something malleable, which you can organize as you see fit. The idea is to calibrate your schedule to avoid stress, achieve your career and educational goals and still have time for your personal life. Keep reading to learn some tried and tested tips.
1. Learn to (really) prioritize
We have good and bad news for you. Which do you want first?
The bad news? Good choice: you're not going to be able to fit everything into your day if you're simultaneously studying, working, and living your ideal personal life.
And the good news? Same thing.
How could this be good news?! Because you'll have to learn to manage your priorities and only give time and energy to the really useful and important things. And that's a great thing.
How can you prioritize? Imagine that your day is a jar. First, you put in the list of things that are really important. These are big stones. For example, finishing a course or group work, handing in an important project at work, or having lunch with your grandmother on her birthday.
Then you put in the smaller things; these are the less important but urgent and/or useful tasks. doing your shopping, seeing a film you've been waiting for in the cinema, or doing some technology monitoring on the Internet in relation to your studies.
Finally, you fill in the gaps with sand. These are the mini-tasks that sometimes come first and take up a lot of time, for example, spending time watching TikTok videos.
Another way to prioritize is by using the Eisenhauer matrix. Start with the urgent and important tasks and work your way down to the tasks that are neither useful nor time-sensitive.
2. Find a routine that suits you
To optimize your time, you have to find the rhythm that suits you. Your mother may keep telling you that you should get up earlier. But if you work better in the afternoon or evening, why not stick with your current routine?
In this routine, set aside:
- The approximate times when you plan to work and take time for yourself
- Sacred moments (e.g. your two workout sessions, your movie outing, dinner with friends...)
- Times when you are teleworking, coworking, working for your company...
All this will help you structure your weeks and stay motivated. And there's no need to feel guilty if you're not productive all the time. Nobody can be! Just learn to decide to dedicate time to each area of your life... and stick to it.
3. Learn to delegate
We can't always take care of everything and at work, be open about the help that colleagues could give you.
To do this, be confident, explain clearly how you would like to be helped, and give a clear brief; the more you micro-manage the people in your team, the less time you will have. If you are not yet a manager, the same applies. Non-value-added tasks should be done by more junior people or freelancers if possible, so that you can give your best.
In your private life, it's the same thing. Maybe your roommates, spouse or friends can do those errands, organise that dinner or fun outing; next time, it'll be your turn to plan.
4. Compartmentalize and cut
Your job or your course is exciting and you could spend 12 hours a day on it, right?! Not so fast. This is a false good idea. That's the best way to burn yourself out.
An underestimated skill is clearly the ability to cut. The different spheres of your life deserve to be fully focused on; the human brain is not built for multitasking and you have to give yourself the gift of compartmentalization.
When you leave work, turn off your phone and don't check your email at night.
After you've finished your study schedule for the day, close the computer and go out for drinks or to spend the evening with friends.
And most importantly, make your free time real free time. Staring at the ceiling in silence, going to the cinema, seeing your loved ones, walking around must be done consciously to be fully regenerative. Think about it!
5. Dare to say "no"
Last but not least, if you like to please everyone, try to say no. You can do it in a polite, assertive and kind way. But do it.
How to say no with panache? You have the right not to give an answer right away and to think about it and formulate your answer calmly.
To say no, simply explain why it is not possible for you and offer an alternative if possible. The hardest part may be saying no to yourself, if the instant gratification monkey of procrastination shows up. And maybe it won't work right away or every time. But practice de-cluttering your schedule to really focus on what matters.
You now have the 5 keys to improve your work/life/study balance.
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