A New Normal: Finding Balance With Responsibilities Post-Graduation

Life after graduation can be so refreshing! Due dates for school assignments and pulling overnights to finish assignments are a thing of the past. You do not have to worry about dedicating hours of studying for tests or finding a quiet place to study. All those stressors related to being a student are no more! I know for me, once I had graduated I was so relieved and eager to move onto the next phase of my life. At the same time I was not sure how life after graduation would look like or how I would structure my time. I mean school was a huge part of my life. How was I to move on with my life without it? After taking some to enjoy life without schoolwork and due dates, I had to come back to reality and face the next step of my life, getting a job and being an adult. Entering this new phase in my life was daunting! Once I was able to get settled into my job and find a new balance in my life with everything that demands my time, it made a huge difference. Finding balance after graduation can be complicated, regardless of what others might tell you. Time management and knowing what your goals are in life play a huge part into having a healthy life balance. You have to know how you want to spend your time and how you need to spend your time to achieve what you want. So, by being an Unbound student, you should be familiar with establishing goals and action steps, right? Now, you just to need to discover your goals and develop action steps for life post-graduation. Between work, adulting, family, etc., it can be a challenge to make sure you meet every responsibility and demand required of you. On top of that, it can be difficult not to let your schedule get swamped only with responsibilities. I have found a few things to help me stay sane and yet not neglect everything that needs to be done. Once I established my goals and priorities, set boundaries, and created a space outside of duties and responsibilities I felt like I had discovered a balanced life. When beginning to find balance in your life after graduation, make sure you establish what your priorities and responsibilities are. By establishing your top priorities and responsibilities in life, you will be able to focus more on what matters the most to you. When you have your priorities in place, you can then determine when those priorities and responsibilities need to be accomplished or completed. This step is important as it will help you stay on track with your life goals and stay focused on what matters to you. Trust me. When you lose sight of what matters the most to you in life, it can be a huge challenge to move forward and complete the day to day tasks. With your priorities and responsibilities determined, you have the power to decide how your time will (for the most part) play out. If your schedule is consumed by responsibilities to the point that you hardly have time to breath, you may want to see where you can cut back. If you find that you need to reduce the amount of responsibility you have, try seeing if you can give something up. Ask yourself, “How does this help me reach my life goal?” or “Does this help me to stay on path to reach my goals?” If you do not want to give up on something, try cutting back on your time investment or amount of responsibility instead. Time, as we all know, is very precious thus we need to make sure we use it wisely and to its fullest potential. Boundaries have been THE key to helping me stay self-disciplined and loyal to my schedule. Creating boundaries with your time ensures that you set aside time to address your responsibilities. When you have boundaries set in place, you are more likely to maintain a healthy, balanced life. You are probably wondering by now, “How does one determine how much time they need to dedicate to their responsibilities?” That’s a good question! When you sit down to map out your goals, make sure to note how much time each responsibility and priority will take out of your schedule. For example, say you have a goal of spending time with your family every day—you would want to dedicate about two to three hours each night for dinner and games. For you, you might want to schedule more or less time with your family, but I think you get the idea. To help me stick to my goals and responsibilities I put EVERYTHING on my calendar. I put in family time, work hours, dog walks, quiet time, etc. I schedule a time for everything, so I know that everything has a time and place and will get done. If I don’t have time for something on a particular day, it does not get scheduled for that day. I highly recommend making time to do something fun and not related to your responsibilities at least every week. When I talk about doing something fun, I mean something like hanging out with friends, going for a hike, or even just spending some time alone reading a book. Whatever it is, make sure you are allowing yourself to relax and enjoy a break from the demands of life. If you are constantly going and always focused on what needs to be done, YOU WILL BURN OUT. We want to avoid that at all costs! For me, I make it a point to do something fun or personal on Saturday mornings when the house is quiet, and my family is occupied with other activities. Here are some tools I use to help me stay focused and balanced: Apps:    Google Calendar: I find it extremely helpful to have my calendar and schedule with me where ever I go. I highly recommend you do the same thing, whether that be an app on your phone or a physical planner that can be accessed at a moment’s notice. This is helpful when you are scheduling appointments and get-togethers with other people. It helps you to stay within your boundaries and stay diligent to your priorities and responsibilities. The Forest App: https://www.forestapp.cc/en/ If you get distracted (like me) or need some motivation, try the Forest App. This app acts as a timer in the background and grows a tree as the time progresses on. If you decide to click out of the app at any point, your tree will die. On the desktop app, you can even block certain websites that distract you. This has been a great app for me! I love to gain points and watch my forest grow. These tools are what I have found to help me and what I would recommend. I hope these tips will help you to reach a more balanced life! What tools or tips have you tried to help you reach a balanced life? Written by Cheyanne Flerx

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