During the semesters of virtual learning, we got used to the “new normal.” Waking up 5 minutes before class, making breakfast while in a breakout room, and taking naps between Zoom classes made up a typical school day. Now, with school being back in person this semester, everything feels like a big shift.
In addition, it is hard sometimes to adjust to working hard in person when there is such a big social scene around you. Sometimes, you may feel like you have to put off work so you can meet your friends, or you may get FOMO seeing others having fun while you’re doing homework.
Alison Oh, a sophomore majoring in mathematics, resonates with this, “Having to get your work done while acknowledging the physical social scene around you is a lot harder than before. Seeing everyone around you lead such an active social life can make life feel isolating at times and pull me away from stuff I know I need to be getting done, so it’s been challenging trying to adjust to that change,” Oh said.
So, as we transition back to in person activities, we must relearn what was “normal” before the pandemic. Here are some ways to do so and budget your time accordingly:
1. Outline your priorities
Your number one priority should be yourself. Everything you stand for, your passions, family, etc. should be first and I even sometimes forget this. Two priorities for me are writing and school. There are times where I have a lot of work to get done, or I just want to spend some downtime writing, but then I get an offer to go out with friends. While I do like spending quality time with friends, sometimes I just want to stay in, but I take up my friend's offer because I feel like I have to be social. Then, I feel behind in school or like I am not pursuing something I want to do.
It’s very easy to forget your priorities and get lost in different aspects of your life, whether that be partying too much that you forget to do your homework or spending too much time studying that you forget to eat. With time, adapt your schedule to be what you want and follow what you prioritize. One way to do this is to write a list of things you stand for, whether that be morally or expectations of yourself. If you are big on mental health and want to stay in for the night but your friends invite you for a late night out, take a moment to think about what you actually want to do before you respond.
Most importantly, take care of yourself and be aware of how you are treating yourself.
2. Make a Vision Board
I’ve found vision boards and motivational quotes to be helpful in rediscovering my motivation in the classroom. While this may be a little cheesy, I created a vision board in Google Slides, screenshotted it, and set it as my background for my computer. Below is a photo of it. My vision board is basically a reminder of what I want, and to remind myself with quotes about my goals and to treat myself properly.
If you are looking for something fun to do that will help you keep track of your goals and to be able to envision what you want your life to be like, go on Pinterest or Google and search for motivational quotes or things that you like to do. This will hopefully help boost your confidence and manifest what you want. This will also help you prioritize yourself, which in turn will help you budget your time because you will have a visual manifestation about what you want and the goal you want to reach. A vision board will overall keep you on track, remind you about things you stand by, and will help you figure out how you want to use your time.
3. Set a defined schedule (Google Calendar is your best friend)
Google Calendar has been one of my most used applications. This is how I plan out my days, whether that be lunch time or what homework assignment I should use. If you are a paper pencil type of person, a planner is also your best friend. Anything to help manage your time wisely and when you should do what to organize yourself best. For me, time management has been difficult here and there. There is only so much time to do school, while also having fun and taking time for yourself.
In Google Calendar, I color code every activity: one color for each of my classes, one for fun activities (extracurriculars or going out), and one for downtime. For instance, my outside of school activities, which include social life, I made red in my google calendar. When I see too much red in my schedule, it indicates I am spending too much time socializing and not focusing on school or downtime. On google calendar, I also try to set study time designated to the color coding of the class, just so I know what to focus on during that allotted time. For me, the more specific my schedule, the more I will follow it. Below is an example of my google calendar for a week in September.
4. Go easy on yourself!
If you’re not getting a concept in school or balancing your life perfectly, it's okay! I am very hard on myself when I feel like I do not balance my time as I want to, but I have to remind myself that I am just transitioning and learning as I go (not to mention there’s an on-going pandemic).
The theory of the W-curve embodies this. The W-Curve is made up of five stages as college students transition to college life. The five stages include: honeymoon, culture shock, initial adjustment, mental isolation, and acceptance and integration.
- During the honeymoon stage, college students are enthusiastic to meet new people and want to get away from their family.
- During the culture shock stage, students begin to realize the difficulty of school and begin to miss home.
- During the initial adjustment phase, students start to make college their home, and start to develop a routine.
- Transitioning to mental isolation, once students go home for break, they sometimes face a battle of two worlds where they cannot tell if their
hometown or their college home is their actual “home.”
- Moving into the acceptance and integration stage, students start to adapt to their college life and form close connections with their classmates and
Many students have not been on campus for over a year. Transitioning back to in person and relearning all your habits with a change in environment takes time and does not happen overnight. Do not be hard on yourself! In fact, the person next to you is probably in a similar boat.
Take it easy, budget your time, outline your priorities, and take care of yourself so you don’t overload yourself with one aspect of your life. Balancing social life, school life, and your own personal self is definitely difficult, but everyone is learning as they go.