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5 tips for better work-life-study balance

Trying to juggle your studies, work and life all at once can be challenging. It can become all-consuming and exhausting, and doing it constantly and repeatedly without ‘unplugging’ from such a routine can negatively impact your overall health and well-being, especially when you don’t have an efficient system set up in place to effectively manage these three components simultaneously. Establishing some kind of work-life-study balance rules which ensure that you navigate through these components as effectively as possible is thus crucial to ensure that you are left with more time on your hands to do the things you love.

Keep in mind that when you focus your energies appropriately, you will likely work less and accomplish the same or more.

1. Have structure, prioritise tasks, set goals

Work smarter, not harder. Having a solid structure, prioritising tasks and setting goals for yourself allows you to work faster and more efficiently and productively. Ask yourself – which tasks are more important, which tasks require more time to finish, and what deadlines you have. The more important a task; the more time it requires; and the sooner it is due, the more sense it makes to take on that task first and other less important tasks, second.

To better prioritise your tasks, set goals for yourself and really commit to them, but be realistic. Don’t set goals you know you will not manage in that time. Remember, preparation makes perfect, so the more goals you set and the more you live up to them the likelier the chances of ensuring an effective and enhanced workflow and as a result an easier, less stressful and flexible timetable to do more of the things that you love.

2. Practice better time management

Work with a schedule/timetable. Compartmentalise your different responsibilities by assigning different hours of the day or days of the week to specific tasks and peg a time to each of them. Don’t spend hours working on and fussing about one project at the cost of time reserved for other projects and activities. Be clear that you need to get A done by 9am, B by 12pm, C by 3pm and D by 5pm. Remember, that the sooner you start working on a task at hand the better. So, know your deadlines and meet them, don’t drag and delay your work.

Better manage your time by blocking distractions. Shut your smartphones off or put them away and close any tabs on your computer which are not project-related, such as Facebook, and Twitter. Doing so will increase your focus and as a result productivity, enabling you to work faster and more effectively and efficiently. More importantly, learn to say ‘no’ to tasks when your hands are full. Perhaps, you can delegate with your colleagues and/or family members regarding specific tasks especially when there are things which can be better done by others.

3. Stay positive. Don’t stress.

Stress is the ultimate enemy. According to 3000 peer-reviewed studies, stress is the leading cause for work burnout, anxiety and depression and that too much of it will impede on your performance and kill your productivity. So, stay positive. Don’t stress too much when you have one too many tasks at hand. Eliminate stress by prioritising tasks, planning ahead and better managing your time.

As indicated earlier, having a clearer picture of the tasks at hand and how much time needs to be reserved for each and every one of them, is the ultimate advantage to ensuring that you don’t fall down the trap of descending into chaos especially when too much work piles up.

4. Carve out time for yourself

The mind needs rest. Endless hours and days of work can take a toll on your mind and body, hindering your overall productivity and performance. Mastering the art of taking breaks is thus essential. Start by leaving work at work. Work can be stressful, exhaustive and all-consuming at times and no matter how much you love your job, the time to unwind and ‘unplug’ from the routine of work is essential for your overall health and well-being.

Too much work can be frustrating, so allowing yourself to take some time off is crucial. There is nothing wrong with rewarding yourself for all the hard work that you put in a work project or a course assignment you’ve been so longingly working on. So, go on holidays, get exercising, do more of the things you love to do.

5. Love your job

Marc Anthony once said, “If you do what you love, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” Loving what you do, can have a cushioning effect on the overall stress and frustration that work and studying can bring into your life. If you love what you do, whether it is work or study -related, the easier and smoother your operations become. Loving your job breaks that work/study vs life binary, resulting in a somewhat intertwined activity which allows you the benefit of enjoying yourself even whilst working on a work project, doing an assignment or studying for an exam.

A lack of passion towards the tasks you have at hand make for dreadful experiences. Take on a job, not for the sake of employment, but because you truly love the field you’ll be working in. The same could be said for your studies. Don’t take on a course, because you were pressured to take it or forced to do it, but because you want to do it, because you know that by doing it you have the potential to boost your life and career.

Try some of these steps to make balancing work, studying and life easier. They require minor effort, but offer major payoffs!

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