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8 Ways to Stay Involved in College Life but Not Go Completely Crazy

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8 Ways to Stay Involved in College Life but Not Go Completely Crazy

I’m a college student. Maybe you’re a college student, too. Life is crazy busy. Like, extremely busy. Maybe you’re in the same boat as me. You are involved in classes, yes, but then there’s everything else: your job(s), internship, extra-curricular clubs, and various groups. Maybe you’re a member of a sorority or fraternity, as well. You and me, we’re involved in a lot—let’s just keep it at that.

Somehow, some way, we are expected to have our lives under control. Homework is due. Exams are practically every other day, not to mention the many group projects, club meetings, and study sessions.

When do we have time to get it all done, let alone breathe?

There are only twenty four hours in a day, which sometimes, feels like not enough. If you’re anything like me, you’ve tried to organize your life, you really have. You began this school year with a positive outlook on the semester, telling yourself that you’d sleep eight hours a night, get straight A’s, and have enough time for both your social life AND studying. But somehow, in the span of just a few weeks, that ideal image has begun to quickly fade out of sight. Now, reality has set in.

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If you’re on the verge of losing all the sanity you have left… if you’re on the crossroads between Crazy Town and Panic Road, you’ve come to the right place.

Here are 8 Ways to Stay Involved in College Life but Not Go Completely Crazy.

1. Check lists are your new BFF.

Check lists are your life preservers. Buy a notebook specifically for this purpose—it’s that important. Check lists have helped me in huge ways, and have literally saved my sanity multiple times.  First, write down everything you have to do that week. Everything, even the group meetings and the homework assignments… even the mall trip you hope to squeeze into your schedule somewhere. Then, break it up into days. Daily checklists break down the overwhelming To-Do lists into smaller, more manageable pieces. Write reasonable goals for yourself every morning, goals that will actually be completed by the end of the day.

Writing even the most mundane tasks down, like taking a shower, gives you a motivational boost of energy when you are able to check it off. There’s something empowering and encouraging about checking off an item on your To-Do list. It makes you feel productive, because you are! You’re getting things done in a more organized, less crazy way.

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2. Become Time-Oriented

Time is precious. There are only so many hours in a day to get everything done, so wasting it is a huge mistake. Becoming Time-Oriented is very easy to adapt, but it takes will power. Set time goals for yourself. Have to study for an exam? Give yourself one hour. Then take a break and do something else, something on your check list. Start writing a paper outline or respond back to a group project email.

Breaking up your time into smaller chunks helps create a more relaxed brain space. Focusing on one thing for too long is not productive. By giving your brain a break from one task, you are able to be more productive and complete more tasks faster.

However, becoming time-oriented does not mean that you become legalistic about scheduling. Allow for a little flexibility, in case something comes up or you accidentally sleep in a little too late. Be persistent in becoming time-oriented, but keep an open mind. If you under schedule yourself for a specific task, you will feel stressed, so make sure to keep your time limits reasonable.

3. The 10 Minute Cycle

This is one of my secret tricks. Piggybacking off of #2, the 10 Minute Cycle helps release the overwhelming stress you may feel between tasks. Walking to class? Put your phone away and listen to a few songs, instead. Taking a break from exam studying? Stand up and do 50 jumping jacks or 50 sit-ups (or both!). Group meeting done early? Check your email or call a friend. The 10 Minute Cycle allows you to do something different every day. Whether it’s checking Facebook, walking around campus, or listening to some pump up music, give your mind a re-boost of energy between tasks or meetings. The trick is: Keep your activity at 10 minutes or less. It’s just enough time to jumpstart your focus, but short enough to keep you on track.

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4. Write. It. Down.

Let’s face it. No matter how good you think your memory is, sometimes it fails you. You thought you’d remember your dad’s birthday, but you forgot. You thought you’d remember that the exam is next Tuesday, but you didn’t realize it until Monday night. Things happen. Write it down.

Buy a planner or put it in your phone. However you’d like to make record of it, do it. Stick to it. Always check it. Update it. By writing it down and keeping up with your plans, you won’t get everything confused. Write down the times next to your meeting dates. Write down the number of the classroom your sorority is having their weekly meeting. Whatever it is, write it down. Thinking you’re going crazy and actually going crazy aren’t that different. When you write your thoughts down, it’s a valid and visual reminder of what you have to do. Chances are you won’t go crazy when you don’t have to worry about forgetting something!

5. Change your scenery.

If you are stuck in your dorm or the library studying for yet another exam or meeting for another group project, I feel bad for you. Sometimes, the scenery is what makes us feel overwhelmed. Change it up! Head to Starbucks or a little café. Go into the student lounge or to a random window seat in an academic building. Changing up the scenery will change your productivity level, too, which will, in turn, keep you sane and focused. Your dorm and the library are great, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes, a little change is good for you!

6. Clean your space.

Mental stress is really the underlying factor beneath the hectic schedule. The mind is running a thousand miles per hour and you don’t know how to make it slow down. Clean your space. Organize your desk, make your bed, put away your laundry. By making your personal space clean and organized, you’ll free your mind, as well. Plus, when you go to study or have friends over, you’ll be able to focus on that instead of being distracted by everything around you. A clean space is a happy head space.

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7. Quotes on quotes on quotes.

As random as this is, quotes are lifesavers. When you have a bad day or are simply on the verge of a break down, quotes taped to the wall, written in notebooks, stuck to the mirror, hanging from the ceiling—wherever they are, they’re helpful. Write down your top 10 favorite quotes and post them everywhere. Read them whenever you can. Live by them. They’re there to save you from Crazy Town.

8. Relax.

Sometimes, we’re just so busy that we forget to relax. I feel like I’m always running around, going to the next meeting or studying for the next exam, that I forget to enjoy the day or give myself a break. At the end of every day, set aside time to simply relax. Watch an episode of The Walking Dead or Netflix an old episode of Breaking Bad. Read a magazine or scroll through Pinterest. Whatever is the best way you will feel relaxed, do it. You deserve it. It’s been a long day. Treat yourself to a little relaxation, because not losing your sanity is worthy of celebration.

Those are 8 ways to help you stay busy without going crazy. I hope they are helpful to you! Have any other tips you’d like to share, comments, or suggestions? I’d love to hear them! Comment below or Tweet me!

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Published on September 21, 2021

How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

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How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

The internet is flooded with articles about remote work and its benefits or drawbacks. But in reality, the remote work experience is so subjective that it’s impossible to draw general conclusions and issue one-size-fits-all advice about it. However, one thing that’s universal and rock-solid is data. Data-backed findings and research about remote work productivity give us a clear picture of how our workdays have changed and how work from home affects us—because data doesn’t lie.

In this article, we’ll look at three decisive findings from a recent data study and two survey reports concerning remote work productivity and worker well-being.

1. We Take Less Frequent Breaks

Your home can be a peaceful or a distracting place depending on your living and family conditions. While some of us might find it hard to focus amidst the sounds of our everyday life, other people will tell you that the peace and quiet while working from home (WFH) is a major productivity booster. Then there are those who find it hard to take proper breaks at home and switch off at the end of the workday.

But what does data say about remote work productivity? Do we work more or less in a remote setting?

Let’s take a step back to pre-pandemic times (2014, to be exact) when a time tracking application called DeskTime discovered that 10% of most productive people work for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes.

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Recently, the same time tracking app repeated that study to reveal working and breaking patterns during the pandemic. They found that remote work has caused an increase in time worked, with the most productive people now working for 112 minutes and breaking for 26 minutes.[1]

Now, this may seem rather innocent at first—so what if we work for extended periods of time as long as we also take longer breaks? But let’s take a closer look at this proportion.

While breaks have become only nine minutes longer, work sprints have more than doubled. That’s nearly two hours of work, meaning that the most hard-working people only take three to four breaks per 8-hour workday. This discovery makes us question if working from home (WFH) really is as good a thing for our well-being as we thought it was. In addition, in the WFH format, breaks are no longer a treat but rather a time to squeeze in a chore or help children with schoolwork.

Online meetings are among the main reasons for less frequent breaks. Pre-pandemic meetings meant going to another room, stretching your legs, and giving your eyes a rest from the computer. In a remote setting, all meetings happen on screen, sometimes back-to-back, which could be one of the main factors explaining the longer work hours recorded.

2. We Face a Higher Risk of Burnout

At first, many were optimistic about remote work’s benefits in terms of work-life balance as we save time on commuting and have more time to spend with family—at least in theory. But for many people, this was quickly counterbalanced by a struggle to separate their work and personal lives. Buffer’s 2021 survey for the State of Remote Work report found that the biggest struggle of remote workers is not being able to unplug, with collaboration difficulties and loneliness sharing second place.[2]

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Buffer’s respondents were also asked if they are working more or less since their shift to remote work, and 45 percent admitted to working more. Forty-two percent said they are working the same amount, while 13 percent responded that they are working less.

Longer work hours and fewer quality breaks can dramatically affect our health, as long-term sitting and computer use can cause eye strain, mental fatigue, and other issues. These, in turn, can lead to more severe consequences, such as burnout and heart disease.

Let’s have a closer look at the connection between burnout and remote work.

McKinsey’s report about the Future of work states that 49% of people say they’re feeling some symptoms of burnout.[3] And that may be an understatement since employees experiencing burnout are less likely to respond to survey requests and may have even left the workforce.

From the viewpoint of the employer, remote workers may seem like they are more productive and working longer hours. However, managers must be aware of the risks associated with increased employee anxiety. Otherwise, the productivity gains won’t be long-lasting. It’s no secret that prolonged anxiety can reduce job satisfaction, decrease work performance, and negatively affect interpersonal relationships with colleagues.[4]

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3. Despite everything, We Love Remote Work

An overwhelming majority—97 percent—of Buffer report’s survey respondents say they would like to continue working remotely to some extent. The two main benefits mentioned by the respondents are the ability to have a flexible schedule and the flexibility to work from anywhere.

McKinsey’s report found that more than half of employees would like their workplace to adopt a more flexible hybrid virtual-working model, with some days of work on-premises and some days working remotely. To be more exact, more than half of employees report that they would like at least three work-from-home days a week once the pandemic is over.

Companies will increasingly be forced to find ways to satisfy these workforce demands while implementing policies to minimize the risks associated with overworking and burnout. Smart companies will embrace this new trend and realize that adopting hybrid models can also be a win for them—for example, for accessing talent in different locations and at a lower cost.

Remote Work: Blessing or Plight?

Understandably, workers worldwide are tempted to keep the good work-life aspects that have come out of the pandemic—professional flexibility, fewer commutes, and extra time with family. But with the once strict boundaries between work and life fading, we must remain cautious. We try to squeeze in house chores during breaks. We do online meetings from the kitchen or the same couch we watch TV shows from, and many of us report difficulties switching off after work.

So, how do we keep our private and professional lives from hopelessly blending together?

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The answer is that we try to replicate the physical and virtual boundaries that come naturally in an office setting. This doesn’t only mean having a dedicated workspace but also tracking your work time and stopping when your working hours are finished. In addition, it means working breaks into your schedule because watercooler chats don’t just naturally happen at home.

If necessary, we need to introduce new rituals that resemble a normal office day—for example, going for a walk around the block in the morning to simulate “arriving at work.” Remote work is here to stay. If we want to enjoy the advantages it offers, then we need to learn how to cope with the personal challenges that come with it.

Learn how to stay productive while working remotely with these tips: How to Work From Home: 10 Tips to Stay Productive

Featured photo credit: Jenny Ueberberg via unsplash.com

Reference

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