The other day I ran into a friend I hadn’t talked to in a while at one of my school’s unions. He stopped, and asked the usual, “how are you doing?” kinds of questions. And then he asked what I was up to. It was a weekday afternoon, in which I had plenty to do. In fact, it is one of my busiest times in the semester. I had more than plenty to do. Instead, I smirked, and he peaked at my computer screen.
“Blog stuff?” he questioned.
I sheepishly replied,”Yes.”
He asked how I could possibly have time for something like that, since he spends every free moment on homework and studying.
I know from being that blogger friend that I have different ideas of what to do with my free time than most of my friends. As tempting as Netflix can be, I would much rather read my favorite blogs, and write some new content. It’s definitely not that I have extra time as a full-time college student, who works part-time. I don’t have much “free” time. Instead, I build my blog into my schedule. I make the time for it, because I treat it like unpaid part-time job. Blogging is a big time commitment if you are serious about it. Here are some ways I balance being a college student and a blogger.
Establish what you need to get done. I cannot start anything until I have thought through everything I need to accomplish. A great way to keep track of everything is using a planner or Google calendar. I rely on my calendar to tell me where I need to be at all times. If I don’t put it in my calendar, there is a good chance I will forget about it. Figure out what you need to do before you start, so that you don’t neglect anything.
Make goals. This step is super important if you want to grow your blog. It is one thing to want to blog more. But having well thought out and possible goals is important if you actually want to see a difference. Plus, once you reach your goals you will feel a sense of accomplishment and pride. And if you set deadlines for your goals, then you will have motivation to try harder if you aren’t reaching your goals. I try to set monthly goals. This way at the end of each month, I can reflect on what I did well and what I could have done better. Then next month, I can take that into account in establishing new goals.
Plan. Once you have goals, make concrete plans to reach that goal. Want to get more comments? Join a Facebook group dedicated to growing your blog, and comment a link to a post thread. These require that you comment on other blogs, so you are spreading the love. So make sure you have the time comment on the other blogs. Plan out your other commitments, including classes, homework/studying, and other activities. Balancing school and blogging isn’t easy. But remember: you are a student first. Make sure you hit the books before you write your next killer DIY post.
Prioritize. What is most important on your to-do list? If you have an upcoming exam or paper due, those have to take priority. So make sure they are at the top of your list. Write your list in order of most important to least important.
Look at what can go. What can you get away with cutting out? What is absolutely essential? At the beginning of the semester I am highly motivated, and I do all of the readings. I take notes and try to summarize the main arguments. But part of college is figuring out what you need to do to get the grade. There is simply not enough time in the day to do all of the readings sometimes. One of my professors recently told us we should read ahead, because we had more readings than usual on the same day as our major paper was due. But then I realized, the paper is worth 20% of my final grade. The readings, on the other hand, are usually not prominent (if even mentioned) in our discussions, and we won’t have a test on this next section of the class. We just have another paper. Sometimes you are going to have more work than you can handle. No one expects you to be superhuman (except maybe the people who assign more homework on the day a paper is due), so don’t sweat it if you don’t get everything done.
Learn to say no. Sometimes someone will ask you to do something that you really don’t have time for. It might be hard at first. But no one can say yes all the time (unless you’re in that one really bad Jim Carey movie no one remembers). People will have to understand. Find a balance between accepting tasks or favors and saying no.
Make Sacrifices. College is hard. Plain and simple, these four years are not meant to be a breeze. They are challenging, and we often have to put school before fun. Of course, you have to balance getting good grades and not driving yourself insane. But sometimes you have to make tough decisions. Last weekend, I had a take-home midterm, a midterm Monday morning, and a 6 page essay to write. It was also Homecoming weekend. I got all ready for the game, thinking I needed to break up the studying and writing to have a little bit of fun. Yet, as I tried to have fun I found the opposite was happening. I was so stressed out about getting everything done that I couldn’t enjoy myself. If you want to be successful, sometimes you have to make some sacrifices. Don’t do that all of the time. It’s okay to take breaks. It’s okay to have fun. It’s okay to ignore stuff for a little while. Just make sure that at the end of the day you are happy with how you are doing academically, too.
Coffee. Warning: drink caffeine with caution. Know your limits. If I have more than two cups off coffee, I cannot stop talking, and sometimes I feel sick from it. That’s no fun. But it can help with the lack of sleep you’re most likely experiencing. And it can be a great beverage for when you’re writing away for your blog.
Writing a blog and keeping up with school is possible. There are tons of college bloggers, but it’s tough to do it all. It just takes some major commitment.
How do you balance everything? Do you have any tips for managing blogging and your daily life?