finding a work (or school) / life balance
Updated: Jul 1, 2021
Imbalance can sneak up behind you without you even realizing it. If you’re not aware of it, it will continuously drag down your performance, causing you to feel more and more discouraged...because no matter what you do, you can’t seem to hit your stride.
As a student, something I have consistently struggled with over the past 3 or 4 years is striking a balance between school work and art. On off days, I’m exhausted from school and have absolutely zero motivation to pick up the pencil and draw something. On good days, I’m so inspired that all I can think about is my next piece...even in classes.
So the real question is, how do I keep myself in the green zone? How can I prevent creative and physical burnout, while also making sure I'm staying on top of everything?
Tip 1. Set Priorities
Human beings need structure to function to the best of their abilities. You can't build a castle on a crumbling base, after all.
Ask yourself: What is most important to me? And then, What provides the most value to me?
[ Quick Interjection: But what exactly makes a task valuable? Value can come in a lot of forms.
Informative Value. Taking a course provides value to you because it's giving you information.
Emotional/Social Value. A chat with a friend provides value because it helps you emotionally.
Restorative Value. A nap or TV binge-session provides value because it helps you rest. A session at the gym provides value because it boosts your fitness.
Be careful not to overwork yourself by getting rid of "useless" things that are actually not so useless. Lazy nights on the couch with a bag of potato chips? Useful if you're tired. If you already feel fine, then maybe going for a run will provide more value. ]
For me, my priorities go something like this... First come my studies. No matter what, school is always going to come before art and business, even if it's not the more enjoyable of the two. Then, comes the social side of my art. Upkeeping Instagram, interacting with the community, etc. Third is the actual creative exploration. (For a lot of people, those last two are switched).
Maybe for you, family is your first priority. Or your job. It doesn't actually matter what your priority list looks like, as long as you have one.
That way, when you have some time on your hands, you don't need to feel like you're closing your eyes and pointing at a random thing to spend that time you. You just go down the list and find the best use for that time.
Don't forget your priorities once you've set them! They can always be changed, but if you stray from your priority list too much, there's less of a point to it.
A word of advice... It's nice and jazzy to have your priority list in your head, of course, but it's even BETTER to write it down. I often forget what my own priorities are when I'm feeling frazzles and busy. Just take 5 minutes out of your day to jot down all your tasks and responsibilities in a nice ordered list, and save yourself future hassle!
Tip 2. Clean Up Your Schedule
Us humans like to think that we're being efficient, but chances are, there's loads of stuff in your schedule that's just wasting your time.
For example, do I really need to spend time mindlessly scrolling through hashtags on Instagram? (No, so I cut it.)
Only do what actually makes you feel a) fulfilled, b) happy, c) productive, d) well-rested.
You can even make a list of all your daily tasks (and when I say tasks, I mean LITERALLY everything that you do regularly in a day, including things like meals and calls with a family member), and order them from most fulfilling to least.
Cut those little, more useless things out of your day. If that's not enough, consider making some sacrifices and cutting bigger things.
(For example, let's say I run an active Instagram, YouTube channel, blog, online shop, and podcast. That's bound to make any student go out of their mind. At this point, I would ask myself: which one of these things brings me the least amount of value? i.e....Which one makes me the least happy? Which one is the least successful?
Let's say I always put hours into writing my podcast scripts, but it wasn't getting any listeners. I Maybe only tens of listens per episode. And I don't even enjoy working on it that much. Is it really the best use of my time? Is it worth stressing over?
Cut it. Just drop it. I'll probably thank myself, and I can always pick it up again when I have more time, or a larger audience.)
If you clean up your agenda, you'll have more time to do what you love or what you need to do, and most importantly, that daily schedule will feel a lot less overwhelming...and this is all about making yourself happier!
Now, AFTER you've done these two tips....
Tip. 3: Multitask
Before I dive into this one, let me just say that multitasking is not for everyone. Regardless of who you are, multitasking degrades the integrity of whatever you're doing.
Even watching TV while drawing, for example, distracts you from at least one of those tasks-- either you're not paying as much attention to the show, or you're mindlessly doodling.
So, it's best to be smart while multitasking.
(Once, I was working on a piece in class and ended up botching it because I wasn't paying attention to my colors. Now I only allow myself to draw digitally or sketch in class.)
Multitasking is a great way to make the best use of your time. Maybe you have some mindless shop work to do (cutting stickers, for example). Why not do that while you listen to a podcast from a course you're taking?
As long as you can accomplish both tasks to a satisfactory level, multitasking is a great way to get more done in less time, leaving you (once again) more time to breathe and relax. (Or, you know. Hustle.)
Tip 4: Take Breaks
So, let's say you've done all of these things. Yet, every day, you wake up feeling groggy and unmotivated.
Chances are...you need a break.
We're not superheroes and we don't have endless stamina. Sometimes you really do need that day where all you do is call your best friend and binge watch Netflix.
Allow yourself to recharge when you need it!
A lot of artists think that if they disappear from Instagram or YouTube for a day, the algorithm is going to smack them off the grid into oblivion and they'll lose everything they've worked for.
Trust your community more! You have supporters for a reason and they're not going to pack up and leave because you need a break. Keep people updated about how you're doing and always put yourself first.
(That said, don't get carried away. It's easy to enjoy taking a break so much that it becomes your regular schedule. Sometimes, instead of taking a step back, we need to push ourselves to grow. I.e. if you haven't drawn in 2 months and you find yourself getting sucked into hours of TikTok scrolling every day instead of doing your homework, chances are that a "break" isn't really what you need.)
at the end of the day, work life balance is something that you will probably have to find on your own.
Everyone is built different, after all!
But if you're tired of feeling burnt out all the time, or maybe you feel unsatisfied with how you're spending your time, that's an indicator that something needs to change. Hopefully these tips will help you take the first step to finding a better balance for you!
Do you have any other tips that help you juggle everything in life? Comment them below!
Take care of yourselves! Love,
P.S. Boy oh boy am I behind on blog updates. Sorry for going MIA for so long! I hope to get some more posts out, but I'm not about to make promises I can't keep. As most of you have probably guessed, this blog is one of the things that falls into my tip. 3 category of "things I will cut if I have to". I love writing my blog posts though...so I can't bring myself to fully drop it.
Thanks for being understanding everyone, and I hope you enjoy reading my posts, no matter how irregular and scarce they may be!