We all know it’s important to study, but are you missing out on other essential aspects or have you found a way to live a balanced life? We’ve come up with some tips on how to live a balanced life and why it’s so important!
Let’s face it, most of us who are undertaking tertiary study want to do well. But studying at the expense of doing other things in life may actually hinder your academic performance.
Students should include sport and social activities to their routine to live a more balanced life. Research shows that those who do, are more likely to get better results than their fellow counterparts who focus too heavily on studying.
Keeping your head out of the books (for some of the time) seems to have many benefits.
According to a 2011 paper on the extra-curricular activities of students, key research findings noted that students who engage in extracurricular activities are more likely to:
• be more disciplined, responsible and proud of their achievements
• have higher self-esteem and confidence
• have a more positive attitude towards studying
• gain higher grades
• complete their studies
• have better networks
Other benefits for those taking time away from study include better leadership and teamwork skills, better organisation and time management skills, and increased problem-solving.
How to study and still have a life
So then, if taking time out is so important, how can you still juggle the demands of study with the need to ‘have a life’?
Part of the answer may lie in scheduling blocks of time dedicated to different areas of your life. For example:
- time to attend lectures
- time for studying
- time for paid work
- time with friends
- time with family
- time for sport/exercise
- personal time – and don’t forget time for sleeping and eating, because they are important too!
You may find using a diary or a planner helpful to facilitate this. Just as you wouldn’t skip a lecture (would you?), you shouldn’t skip the other areas in your life. Make a commitment to make time for other things in your life and stick to your plan.
What’s that? Are you saying that doesn’t leave much time for study? Well, that’s a good point.
However, it’s often not the amount of time you spend studying that is important, but the quality of that study time. Some tips on making the most of your scheduled study time include:
• have a designated space for you to study and ask that your friends and family respect your space
• close the door
• switch off your phone
• decide when your study time will end and stick to it
• map out a rough plan for your study session. Allocate tasks to blocks of time (e.g. 5 minutes on planning your session, 15 minutes to review relevant information, 1 hour for reading, 30 minutes to work on a project, etc.)
The importance of taking a break
As tempting as it may be to ‘pull an all-nighter’, the quality of your study time is likely to suffer.
A US study published in 2011 found that even taking short breaks from a task could improve your ability to focus on tasks for prolonged periods. The study showed that participants who performed tasks without a break demonstrated a decline in their performance.
Similarly, a 2014 study by the Draugheim Group found that the most productive group of workers were not the ones who worked the longest hours, but the ones who took regular breaks.
So study hard, but don’t forget to make time for other things in life. It may just make all the difference to your academic outcome.