As the coronavirus continues to have an impact on all aspects of life, it's never been more important to tee up a solid work, life and study balance. There's a fair bit of bad news doing the rounds, not to mention a lot more time spent inside (aka ‘The Great Indoors’), so it’s crucial to maintain a healthy mix of study and fun times. Not only will it help you to keep a clear mind during the tough times, but scientific studies show that a balanced lifestyle that includes taking time away from work/study for sport and social activities produces better results in school. That's a win-win!
The biggest stumbling block to nailing the study–life balance is failing to plan. If you don't set up a schedule or system, then before long, you'll be doing too much of one thing and not enough of the other.
- Schedule blocks of time for different things in your life: school, study, paid work, hanging with friends and family, sport and exercise, and personal time.
- Use a planner: If you're a visual person, try a wall calendar above your bed so you can always see it; or if you're a techie, download a digital planner for your phone, so it's always within reach.
- Colour-coding your planner will make it super-easy to read.
- Don't forget to factor in enough time for sleeping and eating. Being well rested and well fed will make a massive difference to your exam results. Now’s not the time to be tired and hangry!
Quality over quantity
Learning to work smarter, not harder, is the main aim when it comes to achieving study–life balance. Why spend nine distracted hours chained to your desk, when four fully focused hours would be way more beneficial? To ensure you're getting the most out of your study time, follow these top tips.
- Have a designated, comfortable space to study. Avoid using your bed, as you want to be able to differentiate between your 'study' space and your 'sleep/relaxation' space.
- Close the door and ask family members not to bother you. This includes pets!
- Mute distractions such as WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. You can use apps like SelfControl, or the built-in feature on iPhones that lets you set how many minutes a day you can spend on particular apps – and turn off notifications!
- Set a time when you'll stop, and make sure to schedule breaks between study sessions.
- Write a to-do list for each session and tick off items as you go. Know what you want to achieve and try not to get distracted or sidetracked by other topics or tasks.
Becoming time smart doesn't happen overnight, so if you're struggling to get the balance right, try adding a reward to your free time as a bonus.
- Organise a virtual catch-up with friends: Not only will hanging out help you to switch off from study, but having a commitment to keep will also motivate you to get your work done.
- Save a series: Something new just dropped on Netflix? Perfect. Wait until you've nailed your study before giving it a binge.
Stuck inside? Think outside the box
The nature of being stuck in the same place means that even rewarding yourself can start to feel like a chore. If your free time isn’t feeling that fun, there are ways you can improve iso-life.
- Try mastering a new skill. Get into meditation. Learn French! By adding variety and challenge to your free time, you’re less likely to lounge around and feel bored.
- Post-school strolls. At the end of each school day, put the books down and your sneakers on. Fresh air and a new environment will create a clear ‘end of day’ vibe and make your schedule feel less cluttered.
- Spice up your socialising. While chatting to friends is fun, add an activity to your catch-ups. Create a book club and pick one person to read a chapter. Host a virtual trivia night, or get your cute-and-cuddly animal fix by logging on to a Zoo Livestream.
- House Olympics. Create a series of challenges to be done indoors – rubbish bin race, washing-up time trial – and compete against those living under your roof. The prize? Whoever comes first has Netflix privileges for a week!
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