With the summer ending, the idea of returning to school or back to a rigorous work schedule can be difficult to cope with. Most people “go with the flow” and take things day by day. This may be effective in the short term and can certainly help you enjoy the last few weeks of summer but is not sustainable long term. Before realize it, most of the day is filled with school/work related tasks that are exhaustive and throw our schedule out of balance. This monotonous and stressful pattern takes away from the positive momentum the summer months provide and makes it difficult to develop a balanced approach for the fall and winter.
Having something to look forward to is one of the most effective ways to develop a balanced schedule. Each week it is recommended that you have something enjoyable to work towards. When we have something that will provide some relief from stress and more balance to our life, the weeks feel shorter and our outlook is more positive.
Week to week goals should be divided into three different categories, personal, social, and academic/work goals. This will allow for more balance in life and also help you avoid the monotony of work/school, home, sleep, repeat.
Personal: What are some things you would like to work on during the Fall/Winter? Developing relationships, finding a hobby, reduce time spent on phone/tablets? Think of the times when you have been busy and felt stressed throughout the day. What activity would you rather be doing? What are some things you have said you would do if you had more time? Write them down. Once you write them down they become goals and goals are only attainable if you have a plan to pursue them. Each week, take time out of your schedule to engage in these activities. Your default time will be over the weekend but what about during the week? You can split the week with a fun activity on Tuesday or Wednesday and it will make the remainder of the week feel shorter and less stressful.
Social: From adolescence to adulthood, relationships become more complex and difficult to maintain. Many feel that social media is a great way to stay in touch with peers but it cannot substitute for seeing friends and family face to face. We are social creatures and communicating through a screen is not beneficial for our well-being. Social contact improves self-confidence and also allows for us to develop deeper, more meaningful relationships with others. Furthermore, social media has been linked to increased rates of pervasive anxiety, depression, and social isolation which can make it difficult to function in academic/occupational settings. Simple outings such as going to the gym, the local coffee shop, or a public setting to meet someone face to face can help us meet new people and also feel a sense of belonging.
Work/Occupational Goals: Why do we work so hard? When answering this question, think about the experiences in life you want to have. How can work help you achieve them? If we work hard simply for the approval of others or because we are afraid of failing, motivation will decline. Occupational/academic goals are important to have and are best supported with purpose. What about your goals makes them so attractive? Use that to motivate to guide you through it and the week to week experiences with friends and hobbies propel you to the next school or work related challenge.
Think about these three areas. What will help you find balance in your life?