It’s a balancing act…....
Some of us thrive on being busy and immersing ourselves in anything and everything. For some of us “doing” is as vital to our being as breathing. We have to be learning, studying, working, raising children, supporting family members, visiting friends, volunteering or whatever it is that gets our hearts pounding and drives our motivation. After all, no-one achieves great things by simply watching Netflix all day.
But where should the line be drawn and when should we address the life/study/volunteering balance?
Everything that we add into the mix of our busy every-day lives is valid and has worth. As a student, working pays our bills and enables us to follow our dreams through studying. Studying lays the foundations for our future and for the job that we have always dreamed of and is almost in reach. Volunteering provides the extra tools that we need to bag our dream job, whilst helping those around us into the bargain. Throw into that mix a social life, maybe a family and a peppering of other commitments and you could find yourself feeling as though you’re stuck inside a washing machine on a 1400 spin. Life can be amazing when you give it your all but it can also be exhausting.
Remember why you are here at this moment in time. If it wasn’t for the fact that you were an ARU student studying hard to achieve your goals, you wouldn’t even be sat on the train, in the uni café or at home on the settee reading this article. Primarily you have chosen to study for your degree, MA, PHD or whatever course it is that you have undertaken and this should be your main focal point during your time here. You have probably gone without, lacked time to relax and maybe put other life events on hold to allow you to take up your place at university. For those reasons alone, your course should ideally be the foundations on which you build your other pursuits around.
If you feel a sense of impending doom that you’ve deadlines looming, revision to do, hours of volunteering to undertake, you’re on the rota for shifts at work, family are needing you and to top it all off your friends wanting you to go “out out” then take a deep breath but panic not! The older we get the more we learn how to deal with situations and how to find a good balance of all the things that are essential to us (because we are duty bound, simply love them or have committed to doing them).
Here are some tips that might just save you from jacking in a job, quitting a course, waving goodbye to volunteering or not having an hour to spare until the next decade:
- Plan - devise yourself a weekly timetable: Don’t overdo it or make it unrealistic as you’ll just be setting yourself up to fail. Give yourself extra time to relax and enjoy that programme you love on Netflix. (We all need a little something that is selfish & purely indulgent)
- Don’t be afraid to say “no”: If you constantly feel obliged to say “yes” to things you don’t want to do or don’t have the time to do, you’ll be responsible for overloading yourself and it’s probably taking time away from the things that matter the most. If your boss offers you two extra shifts and you have an essay due, learn that saying “no” can be a positive thing.
- Create yourself the perfect study space: Perfect doesn’t mean expensive or fancy. Just a corner of your bedroom that is specifically for studying, clutter free, light and with enough space for you to work comfortably. Add a dash of your favourite colour even if it’s just a scarf draped around your favourite photo. Have something in your work space that inspires you-even if it’s just a print out of your favourite quote from pinterest. We all need a reminder every now and again of why we are doing what we do.
- Remember that volunteering is just that: Enjoy it, give it your all, don’t devalue it because it is unpaid (your time is incredibly valuable to the person or people who benefit from it) but remember that you also have other commitments. Volunteering can literally change your life and even affirm a career path for you that you’d never thought of or you could make amazing friends but don’t let it take over-it is part of a cog in the wheel that is your life but it doesn’t need to be your whole life.
- Talk about how you feel: Your studies are really important but nothing is as important as your mental and physical health. Not only are YOU important but without your health you won’t be able to study, work, volunteer or support friends or family. If you feel overwhelmed you can speak to your Volunteer Co-ordinator by dropping into our office or talk with your immediate contact at the organisation where you are volunteering. Don’t be afraid to talk to a friend or family member who you feel comfortable with and who gives good advice or failing that, speak to Student Services and they can offer you sound and relevant advice.