How to balance your responsibilities as a mature student


Kait Nienhuis

 

Adulting. A term you’re probably familiar with. Adulting can mean many things: paying your bills, remembering to feed your pets and/or children, having a job, talking about the weather in social situations, cooking sensible meals and wearing sensible shoes.

Adulting doesn’t just mean responsibilities, it means managing them, or at least trying to. Taking on being a student in addition to life’s mounting responsibilities can seem like a daunting task, but with a little organization and determination it can certainly be managed.

Check out these tips on how to balance your responsibilities without sacrificing your academic performance:

 

Make time for your studies

This one’s important. I’ve been guilty of putting course work or studying on the back burner when life gets hectic.

You are investing in yourself by going to school and you cheat yourself when you don’t give your studies the attention it deserves. If I schedule time specifically for school work, I become accountable for it and am more likely to see it through.

If you are easily distracted, perhaps make the effort to set aside time in a less distracting place such as a library, coffee shop or anywhere you feel you’ll be able to focus.

It’s imperative to use your allotted time wisely, especially if you have a lot on your plate with limited time to spare.

a person studying with a laptop and textbook

 

Outsource where possible (aka ask for help)

Delegation is key here. There are many products and services available to help keep your life organized. What kinds of errands and tasks do you have to take care of? Can any of them be tackled by someone else or is there a way you can automate them?

For example, consider buying your groceries and other items you need online. Bonus if you can have them delivered to you. Utilize online banking for things like automating your bill payments. Download apps for your phone that can filter your email, keep track of your to-do list and manage your schedule. Turn off notifications on your phone so you aren’t constantly being distracted. Perhaps reach out to family or friends who may be able to help you with other tasks to help ease your daily grind.

Outsourcing where possible will cut down on the amount of things that acquire your time and attention, freeing you up for the things that are more important.

someone falls into a laundry machine

 

Self-care (aka treat yourself)

You can’t pour from an empty cup. This is often the area that is most likely to fall to the wayside, at least it is for me. Making time for yourself could be something as simple as enjoying a cup of coffee or taking a walk.

For myself, self-care sometimes looks like going for a massage, reading a book, playing in my ringette league or checking out a local brewery.

Showing yourself some love goes a long way in resetting your mood, de-stressing and giveing you the energy to tackle your responsibilities.

someone laying on a couch reading a book

 

Prioritize

Priorities change and responsibilities fluctuate in urgency. With school work, I prioritize based on deadline. I will schedule time to work on or complete a specific assignment (papers, research projects, readings, etc.) and I keep on top of larger projects by breaking them down.

As a mother, my child is always my first priority so I ensure that I have backup strategies in place should I need to take time off if needed. If you’ve got young children like I do, you’ll know the concept of free time is almost non-existent and so I also find it helpful to utilize nap time or those precious few hours after my child’s bedtime to get things done.

Take a look at what needs to be done on a broader scheme and decide what to address on a day-to-day basis to help ensure the important things aren’t being overlooked.

 

Stay focused on the task at hand

In addition to being a student, I have a full-time job. I work long hours with few days off and I’m responsible for multiple teams of people.

As a manager, I’ve had years of practise thinking ahead, planning, delegating and juggling. Sadly, not actual juggling, just the metaphorical kind.

Compartmentalizing can be your best friend when managing multiple responsibilities. I need to be on my game while at work and so I dedicate my mental space fully to my job while I’m on the clock. During my break time, I may run an errand or perhaps catch up on course readings to stay productive.

When working or attending class, try not to let your focus shift too much to prevent yourself from getting overwhelmed with your overflowing plate. Staying organized, planning ahead and focusing on the task at hand will keep your crazy train running smoothly.

a camera lens focuses on something in the distance

No matter how many responsibilities are weighing you down, finding an effective way to manage them keeps you in control of your life. Being able to manage your obligations allows you to take on more opportunities.

Prioritize, plan and set goals for yourself. Give the big stuff more of your attention and give the little stuff less. Outsource as much as possible, make time for the relationships in your life and don’t forget to give yourself some love while you’re at it. You’ve got this.

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