5 Valuable Ways to Easily Balance Study & Relationships
It can be pretty difficult to get work done sometimes, and it’s even harder when there are other people around. Trying to stay focused, meet deadlines and work hard can be a challenge in itself, so whether you live with your friends, family, flatmates or partner, it’s important to work out how to get these things done while the people around you are also vying for your attention. I’ve lived with my family, flatmates and my partner throughout my studies and career so far, and while I’m not saying that I’ve got it all completely figured out, there are some things that I’ve noticed along the way that can help make things easier.
In any relationship, communication is key. If you watch any video or read any how to article about relationships, they will probably tell you the same thing, and they’re not wrong. It’s so important to communicate with whoever it is around you about what it is that you’re going through, what you need to get done, and what you need from them. I currently live with my boyfriend of five years, and over the time that we’ve been together, we’ve learnt to do this more and more, but we’re still working on it and we probably always will be. Sometimes I’m grumpy because I’ve spent all day working on a really frustrating design problem that I couldn’t figure out, or I’m confused because my tutor didn’t like my work and now I feel lost, or maybe I’m just hungry and my brain won’t function again until I eat something. These things happen, but if I don’t explain what is going on, or why I’m feeling a certain way, all Sam knows is that I’m grumpy and frustrated. A lot of the time, especially if I am hungry, this can lead to silly arguments or uncomfortable situations all because we haven’t communicated. This is the same with family or friends too. If you’re exhausted from a full week at university and you still have loads of work to do, just say that. Don’t leave your friends thinking you just don’t want to hang out with them, or your family worrying about what’s wrong. The same goes for if you have deadlines or lots of tasks on your to-do-list. It’s okay to say no to things and go be productive, it’s just important to explain that it’s what you need to do and why. I will often tell Sam that I need to go to my office for a few hours, smash some work out and then we can spend some time together afterwards, and that’s fine. The important thing is that he knows what’s going on and why.
As I said before, sometimes I will go to my office to get work done and in my opinion, having an office or space of your own is so important for your productivity and relationships. My office is really just the upstairs mezzanine level of my bedroom with a desk, chair and a small bookshelf; it’s not much, but it’s my space. You might have something similar, maybe you have your own bedroom at your family house, some space at university or a favourite cafe. It doesn’t matter specifically what or where your space might be, as long as you have somewhere comfortable, productive and separate from the people who might be distracting you.
I’m not trying to say that your Mum, girlfriend, flatmate or whoever it might be is always distracting, but there are times when you will need to get your head down, focus and get work done, and that’s when it’s time to step away into your space and do those things. Having somewhere like this gives you the option to say, ‘I’m just going to ________ for ________ hours because I need to get ________ done. I’ll be back after that’ and then you can do those things in your own space with (hopefully) no distractions. This will not only help your productivity, but it will also stop you being frustrated at whoever it is for being distracting, or being stressed because you can’t get any work done, and helps to separate work time from chill out or hang out time.
All of these things are about maintaining balance between your work and your life. There are times for working, times for doing life, and often times where the two overlap, but it’s important to balance them both. If you’re like me where you work a lot of hours, study full time, volunteer, and have side projects, it’s easy for life to take a back seat while you keep hustling, and it’s equally as easy to get caught up in the fun stuff of life and forget about your career or studies too. It’s all about prioritising time, saying yes and no to the right things, and knowing what is important to you. I know that it sounds easier said than done, but it is possible, I promise. For me, knowing that my studies, side projects, Sam and my friends are the most important things to me, allows me to prioritise those over other things. When the option comes up to go to a party with lots of random people that I don’t know, or do some work and then play board games with Sam and my friends, I know which one I’m going to choose because I know what my priorities are. Not that parties are bad at all, it’s just not something that I prioritise in my life. Just like going to the gym isn’t, even though it really should be! Try writing down your priorities in order of importance, and then next time you’re faced with a decision whether or not to do something, you can see and think about how important it is to you, and decide from there. And these priorities don’t have to stay that way forever. Just because studying is really important to you now, doesn’t mean that it can’t move down the list later on. It’s flexible and it’s totally up to you and how you feel as to how you prioritise things.
Maintaining a good balance also has a lot to do with compromise. There are so many times that I have to compromise when I’m torn between two things, or if I’m high on somebody else’s list of priorities, and that’s fine. For example, I often tell Sam that I need to go to uni to do some work for a few hours, so as a compromise, we plan that afterwards we will make dinner together and watch an episode or two of TV. At other times I might be working full time, so as a compromise with a friend, I’ll meet them for lunch around the corner so that it doesn’t take too much out of my evening, but we still get to spend time together. There are loads of situations that require compromise and several ways that you can do that. It’s just about working smarter, not harder, using your work time productively and wisely so that you can spend time doing other things, and learning what you can fit into your schedule where.
There are some sneaky tricks to making more time and getting several things done at once, and working together is one of them. I can hazard a guess that friends, family and partners are quite high on most people’s list of priorities, but there’s often not enough time in the day or the week to spend with them. A useful trick is to get them involved with the work that you’re doing, or take them along with you when you need to get stuff done. For example, if you need to do a photoshoot, enlist one of your friends as a helper or even as the model! If you need to go shopping for art supplies, take your Mum along! If your partner is creative too, collaborate on something fun and cool together! If you need to do some research, ask your friends to answer the questions for you! There are so many different ways that you can get people involved in what you’re doing which allows you to spend time with them, have some company along the way and maybe even get some help with what you’re doing!
This is not a straight-forward process, and it will take time to figure out what works the best for you and the people around you, but with determination, communication and probably a lot of patience, things will start to get easier. I hope that this has been helpful, and I’d love to know if you have any questions about anything that I’ve mentioned! If you want to see how I mange my relationships, especially with my partner, Sam, you can watch my latest vlog and subscribe to watch more in the future! As usual, let me know if you’ve got any tips and tricks of your own too, I’m always learning so I’d love to hear how you do things and what does or doesn’t work for you!
Much Love, Hollie! :D