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Some tips on balancing college, work, and other aspects of your life?

I'm 20 and have been enrolled in community college since I was 16. It's been a roller-coaster as far as my academic performance; I've done well in many classes and failed just as many. I think the biggest factor of my failures is my tendency to procrastinate when I get overwhelmed or stressed. Sometimes I get so stressed out and anxious that I sleep in and skip class altogether.

I'm a very busy person for my age; I'm a full-time college student, work 30 hours a week (give or take 5 hours), and on the weekends I spend time with my fiance and his daughter (as well as working 8 hours each day); sometimes I can find time to study during the weekend, but usually I'm too distracted. Because I use public transportation, I usually have to go straight to work after class, which leaves me not much time to study, let alone other basic things such as cooking, cleaning, exercise and personal hygiene.

My weeks usually look like this: Monday and Tuesday: Wake up around 6:45-7, leave about 7:50, get to school 30 minutes early for my 9 am class; no work.
Wednesday, Thursday: Same morning routine, but I leave class and go straight to work; Get home around 11pm.
Friday: No class, but I go to work between 2-4 until 10:30pm. Saturday/Sunday: Wake up mid-morning, do some kind of activity with the kid, work until 9-10:30.

I know that what I'm doing isn't impossible, so what key thing am I missing here that will help me manage my time better? All responses are greatly appreciated! #psychology #clinical-psychology #time-management #studying-tips #work-life-balance #psychotherapy #personal-development #habit-forming

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Michele’s Answer

I went back to school at the age of 42. I worked seven days a week and was a single parent. The hardest lesson I had to learn was how to prioritize my education. Yes, you need to work but you have to decide at what point you want to graduate. I sat down and mapped out a game plan. I listed the classes I needed to take and projected a time frame I wanted to complete them in. I then blocked out a chunk of time every day to make sure I could devote time to my studies. Lastly, I took online classes. I found the flexibility offered in this format worked a lot better for me. I didn't have to worry about being to a class at a certain time and if I couldn't sleep, I could work on my class late at night.

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Francesca’s Answer

Be sure to make goals and prioritize them in order of importance. The time you spend on this goals is proportionate to how important your goals are. In other words, if the two most important goals are work and school then that's where most of your time is spent. Make sure you set aside the necessary time and stick with it, preferably in a quiet space like a library.

It is so easy to procrastinate but it is the enemy of goals...believe me I am the queen of procrastination and it only leads to misery and a sense of being powerless. I also went to school as an adult while working full-time and it can be done! Get more definitive help from a counselor.

Whatever you do, don't give up and keep your eye on the prize!

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Baskar Rao’s Answer

I appreciate the efforts which you are putting in attending your college. It is great sign that you are putting the efforts and have the dedication to complete your education. From your busy schedule , I would suggest you to make it a routine to dedicate 2 hr each on Monday and Tuesday for your study after attending the class. Plan to get some good sleep on Monday and Tuesday by going early to bed, so that you have solid 6 hr of good sleep minimum. You are doing absolutely good on Wednesday and Thursday. You are occupied till 11pm on those days. Consider getting up relaxed on Friday morning as there is no class. Allocate a dedicated time of 2 hr each on Saturday and Sunday morning for your study before going to work in the afternoon. On an average we would require 6hr of good sleep each day. If you are not able to meet consider a half an hour quick nap after lunch with an alarm.

Try keeping an alarm in vibration mode for every half hour while attending class. This way you will be training your mind to be attentive in the class. Make a personal tracker and mark the dates where you did not sleep in the class. Have a strong determination that you will not sleep in the class and keep a target of 10 consecutive days. Once you reach the target appreciate yourself. Then increase the target to 20 days gradually you will be able to reach there.

These are some from my experience.

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Rachel’s Answer

<span style="background-color: transparent;">You have to set a routine for yourself and stick to it for the most part. Once you get into the groove of a routine it will be much easier for you to manage your time and have enough time for everything you need to do (including relaxing). Make yourself to-do lists on a weekly basis, use Google calendar or a planner to keep track of events, deadlines, and due dates. In addition to setting a routine and sticking to it, plan out relaxing activities into your day. Or set aside a time, after everything is done for the day, that you can have "me" time. I have also personally found it essential to not only find time for myself but also make use of that time in a way that is best for me and my holistic wellness. I have found the HeadSpace app to be an essential tool in helping me relax and generally feel more relaxed throughout the day, Guided meditation, even if you have a busy schedule, will make you feel more at ease and relaxed throughout the day as a whole (not just when you have the time to relax and focus on that "me" time).</span>

<span style="background-color: transparent;">Set a routine.Use Google Calendar.Set aside Me TimeWrite weekly to-do lists and use a planner.Find a peaceful and restful activity that will help you feel relaxed.</span>

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Dr. Ray’s Answer

Dear Brittany,

Congratulations on having achieved so much at a young age. As I look at your schedule I don't see any time for you to relax and do nothing. When I was a first year graduate student I was worried about making good enough grades to stay in so I studied nights, weekends and even Christmas day. My grades were acceptable but nothing to write home about, plus I was very unhappy. The next year I always took Saturday night and one weeknight off. Not only did I feel better but my grades actually went up. It appears that your are in class, studying or working seven days a week and this might account for your procrastination when it comes to studying.. You will probably have to disciple yourself to do this but I think you can work smarter in less time.

I also have to wonder, along with Ken, if you are really happy with your major. Most people have trouble working hard at something they really dislike, and may sabotage their efforts without realizing it. I know people who pursued a major because they thought they could earn a lot of money, even though they didn't like it but I would fins this very hard to do.

This is a much less likely possibility but if you have had problems with procrastination, disorganization and "down" moods for most of your life, they may indicate an attention deficit disorder. I think it would be worth your time to talk to a counselor at your school about this.

I hope these suggestions are helpful. I wish you the best in pursuing your educational and career goals.

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Rainie’s Answer

Hello Brittany!

Firstly, good for you and keep that motivation! I'm now pushing 30 and I had a very similar, chaotic schedule at that age (minus the fiance). Just constantly working, going to school - you feel there's never an end to a day.

My best advise, maybe focus on one thing at a time. If you're positive your major is what you're wanting to do, try to stick with it. (It's easier to burn out the older you get). But! If you're not as focused on school, causing you to not put full effort in, maybe just take a break! (I put a pause on school at 22 as it was more of a waste of money at the time, and plan to go back in about 1 year). I feel networking with people can be just as important/effective when it comes to career and "being successful", however don't let that guide you away from school as it is important.

Each person's story is different, I know. But the main point is to really just focus on what's important right now. This sounds so cliche but the older we get, the more we realize how short life really is. Just drive yourself to be the best you can be at this point, but don't overload it. I wish I would have stopped to smell the flowers instead of missing most of my 20's ^_^