Let's face it, the phrase “work hard, play hard” is outdated, discouraging, and a recipe for both physical and mental burnout. Prolonged hours of work directly followed by intense binge drinking and little sleep is NOT healthy. This seemingly simple phrase is actually one of the leading causes of anxiety in college. No, not the literal phrase itself, but the concept of balance in college. Whether you have been in college for two years, going into your freshman year, or starting your first job balancing partying and academics/work is a continuous struggle.
As a Tulane student going into my junior year of college, I can’t say I have this so-called balance down to a science. The anxiety of missing out (aka FOMO) can be a factor to blame in the handful of times I chose a party overdoing my schoolwork. It took me until I received my first “F” on an exam (don’t tell my parents 😬) to realize I needed to make some profound life changes. First, I had to accept that no one would tell me the perfect balance; I had to find out which strategies worked best for me.
For starters, I tweaked the old fashion, “work hard play hard” phrase to “work smarter, play better.” This gave me a more balanced mindset. Having the word “hard” in a mantra doesn’t necessarily give off good vibes for productivity. To say it simply, I broke my life down into three categories: academics, social, and health. By taking control over these three major elements in my life, I provided myself with a balance that felt good for me.
For academics, I started to focus on planning ahead. One of the things that helped me most was taking every Sunday to look at my week ahead. I then dedicated a certain number of hours each day to all the assignments I had due for the week.
Next, I focused on how I could still have an active social life while not going overboard. To me, this was much more difficult to break down compared to my academic life. Unlike my canvas page that laid out all my assignments for the week, there was no calendar telling me what social events were going on every night. This is where the mantra, “worker smarter, play better,” came into play. I decided to use the first half of the week (Monday-Wednesday) to get the bulk of my significant assignments done, so I could enjoy my social life the remainder of the week.