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These last few challenging weeks have proved daunting with massive amounts of homework. Still, it feels refreshing to begin graduate school, practicing critical thinking skills and successfully meeting deadlines in a timely fashion. For those of you struggling to juggle school, work and a social life, read ahead to find balance with time management strategies.

Prioritize

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For starters, school and work must come first. A daily planner provides an outlet to organize activities for the upcoming week. It’s helpful to determine which homework assignments to complete in order. Personally, I refuse to do homework on Saturday’s, but otherwise I dedicate at least 2 hours to studying each day.

Once the homework’s finished, cleaning the house usually follows. I couldn’t be more grateful for my boyfriend stepping up to assist with chores more often. The planner allows me focus on particular areas of the house by dedicating each day of the week to a different room . Exercise matters, as well. To keep myself from setting unrealistic goals, I’ve deemed 3 days of indoor yoga and hooping acceptable until the weather warms up.

Schedule Your Friends

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Making time for your friends is just like anything else: Pencil them in with a solid date and time in mind. Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People directs attention towards independent habits and interdependent habits. So acting proactively includes efforts to reach out, while synergizing (an interdependent habit) involves the other person’s willingness to work with you as a team to meet goals. Both you and your friends need to be on the same page when it comes to scheduling.

Goals are more likely to be met with an end-date in mind. Such is the case with friends. It’s easy to avoid someone with vague inclinations like, “We should get together sometime…..” but stamping that desire with a date and time helps prevent potential plans from falling through.

It’s vital to keep friends that encourage you to put school first. Clear your schedule for the most supportive and caring friends. These are probably the same folks that will turn out to be the most reliable.

Maintaining a consistent schedule with others seems to work. Caitlin and I try to make it to Wallstreet every Friday night, while Jessica brings her dog over on Saturdays for play dates. Tika’s become my Sunday friend, but often times Nichole join us for coffee, as well. Likewise, Jessica and Stephanie usually tag along with Caitlin and I to the bars. Wednesday evenings are dedicated to study time with Stephanie, while Erika and I seem to hang out somewhere in between. Although we have yet to pinpoint a solid schedule between our hectic lives, we get together at least once a week. Same goes for Marissa and Kooch. I rarely schedule them; it’s a given that we’re bound to cross paths at a party or a mutual friend’s house.

Sadly my former roommates are relocating to Denver soon, so I dedicate several hours with them every week. We enjoyed the Super Bowl last night, socializing with about 20 friends, rather than actually watching the game. Plus, I’m a bridesmaid in their quickly-approaching wedding, which gives us an excuse to meet up.

And somewhere in the midst of all the madness, I make time to see Tara. I’m excited to participate in her wedding as well. Planning 2 bacchelorette parties and organizing wedding deets can feel exhausting, but luckily neither of these women are Bridezillas.

Last but not least, it’s important to schedule time with the hubs and his friends. We attended the Evil Dead Musical Saturday night, so it was fun to sit in the Splatter Zone and watch his friends perform.

Eliminate Time-Wasting Activities

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Consider the things you can give up. As much as I value my sleep, it’s been reduced from 10 hours each night to about 7. Facebook is hardly a thought in my mind anymore. What once used to consume so much time has been cast astray. So evaluate how your time is spent each day to decide what you can afford to give up.

Focus on You

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At the end of the day, don’t forget to reserve a few precious moments for yourself. A social life demands so much of you, but when’s the last time you relaxed? From engaging in basic meditation techniques to studying crystals and gemstones, these activities put my mind to rest. Peaceful soaks and working on the fairy garden balances my slightly manic episodes. And I’m looking forward to a yoga retreat in the mountains this weekend. Whatever the case may be, find something soothing that brings you joy and engage in this activity at least a few times a week.

If you have additional advice concerning balance, please share….