24 hours just isn’t enough time to get everything done. Between your normal work hours, overtime, family and fun time, how on earth do you ever add school time on top of it all? Time-tested answer: you get more efficient. And lifehacks help you start to look at your time not just as the 24 hours of today but the 8,760 hours available this year and the over 800,000 hours in your lifetime. Here are a few of our favorite lifehacks to make the most of your time when you’re trying to do everything.
Color-Code Your Calendar
It doesn’t matter if you’re using Google Calendar or a pocket-sized organizer, blocking out time for the things you need to do (and then color-coding that time) will change your life. Pick one color for schoolwork, another for your career, and one for fun. If you need to, go with a range of colors (e.g. using cobalt, turquoise, and baby blue instead of just blue) to get even more organized. Don’t forget to set aside time for less time-bound activities like studying.
You’ll be able to see at a glance where you actually have free time and if you’re spending too much (or too little) time on fun activities and family time.
Compartmentalize Your Living Space
It doesn’t matter if you live in a studio apartment or a four-bedroom house, making space for each activity is a good way to stay organized (mentally and physically). You probably already have a workplace outside the home (but if you are working from home, make sure you dedicate an area of your home to it), so you can check that off your list. Next, set up a small desk or table where you can always leave your schoolwork. Sitting in that space will help you enter the studying mindset as much as stepping into your workplace every day sets you apart from home. And remember to set up a sacred space for playtime away from your other responsibilities too. Refreshing yourself with a fun break from normal activities is important.
Set Up a Budget
“What?” You may be saying, “How does a budget help my life balance?” A budget helps you not only see what your financial priorities are, it also helps you set aside funds for frivolous expenses (that second Frappuccino of the day) so you have larger sums for fun. You can go old school with a jar of receipts or a program like Quicken, or set yourself up with an app like Mint. Just make sure you’re documenting everything you spend. That will make it easy for you to see any reimbursements your work might owe you and also opportunities for savings (and fun).
Pretend You’re Doing an Independent Study
Sometimes a little stress can be a positive thing. You know you have the support of your teachers at school, but for the first half of your next big project, see how far you can push the whole thing on your own. Make a list of questions you’ll need asked along the way and then see what you can get done on your own. Go back and check the list of questions occasionally and see how much you can tick off already. Then…
Ask for Help When You Need It
This can be way harder than it seems, but like anything else worth doing, you get better at it with practice. If you need a tutor to help you understand trig, find a tutor and stop struggling. If moving into that new apartment requires an extra set of hands, offer to feed a friend in return for their time. If you need a college degree to level up at work, start researching programs or contact an admissions consultant. You know what you most need. Go do it—and know that there are plenty of folks who will help you out along the way if you just ask.
Lifehacks take time too, but the few hours that you’ll spend setting up the above suggestions can save you days of headache and open whole worlds of time for you. And efficiency is a habit; imagine what you’ll do with all your newfound time once your degree is finished. Share your tips for balancing life, work, and school in the comments below.