Balancing the Scales
How to manage your time and improve your life
Published: Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 14:10
If I have any regular readers out there, you will know that I just returned from a week in Puerto Rico studying ecotourism and large-scale planning for one of my classes. It was a great trip – not without it’s low spots and annoyances, but a fun and successful adventure in all.
Though I am glad to be back in the Northland cold and out of the oppressive tropical humidity, I must say Fargo put out a much less-than-warm welcome. Instead of being greeted with a warm bed and a week of getting re-adjusted to school, I was met with a wall of homework that seemed as impenetrable as the old Spanish fortifications of Old San Juan.
I thought taking a week off from my regular routines and responsibilities would be a wonderful opportunity to rest up both my body and my mind after a hectic and trying first half of the semester. My schoolwork and jobs have been dominating my life so far, and they keep me constantly busy every day. There is hardly a moment of any weekday when I am not pressed for time, dashing around between class and job one and homework and job two.
So needless to say, I am disappointed that taking a full week off school isn’t going to help relieve the pressures of everyday life. No, life is going to grind slowly on, and if I don’t keep up, I’ll be nothing but grist for it’s ever-turning millwheel. It’s a fate that all college students face. We get in over our heads with school, work and student activities, not to mention the maintenance of our social lives. For some, it proves to be a greater struggle than others.
Somehow, I’ve managed to keep my head above water thus far. And though I am constantly stressed and pressed for time, I even manage to do such frivolous things as visit my family, go duck hunting and hang out with friends. Though school is by and away the most important of my priorities – and it has been ever since I started college – I learned quickly that schoolwork can absolutely dominate your life if you allow it to.
Possibly the most valuable skill I have gained in college is the ability to balance all the many facets of my life. You cannot allow one part of your life to dominate all others. If you do, you will soon become burned out on that portion, and you won’t be able to maintain the others.
Your professors tell you that college is about getting good grades in order to have a successful future. Your friends tell you that it is about partying and enjoying what youth we still have. Your wallet tells you that it is about making money so that you can afford to do fun things and live on your own. Student organizations tell you that it is about volunteering your time so that you can build a resume. Your own body tells you that it is about sleeping so that, you know, you don’t die.
College is about every one of those things. It is about finding your priorities, dividing your time appropriately among them, and – most of all – enjoying yourself. It also entails allowing yourself to grow into a functioning and successful adult and having experiences you couldn’t have elsewhere. The key to it all? Balance.
So if the first half of this semester isn’t treating you and your sleep habits well, sit back and take stock of your life for a moment. Evaluate your own priorities. Line things up a little bit. And remember that you can’t do it all, but you can’t just do one thing either. Find a little balance in your life, and the rest of this semester is bound to go much more smoothly.
Nathan is a senior majoring in landscape architecture. Follow him on twitter @nwstottler.