A semester in limbo

Graduating early, yet staying in the same town calls for a lot of adjustments and a good sense of balance to stay on your feet. If you have ever worked in the food, drink or leisure industry, you know that means that your days off aren’t on the weekends anymore. The busiest days for companies specializing in making life more fun are Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Throw an early graduation into the mix and you get a weird sense of still being in college with your mates, but having different weekends, work instead of class and the feeling of being stuck between two worlds.

That being said, having a different schedule doesn’t have to mean you can’t do anything fun anymore, it just means prioritization of time is crucial. There are a few things that I have found helped me a lot, so this post is to share what I’ve found, but mostly so that the information is in a place I can find it in the future. The following tips should apply not only to people who don’t have weekends off, or people who graduated early, but to anyone who feels like they are struggling to use their time correctly.

1. The mornings are your friend. Get up early, stretch, work out, eat breakfast, prepare your lunch for the day, maybe go to the bank and do whatever you can early so you don’t have to worry about it throughout the day.

2. When you go to work, hit the ground running. Have a cup of coffee and a bottle of water, and don’t take a break from what you’re doing (except to use the restroom) until the two are gone and you’re well hydrated. Come prepared and get as much done before lunch as you can, so the post-lunch drowsiness doesn’t hit you too hard. It’s normal to lose a bit of steam as you go throughout the day, but if you get your work done early, you can make sure you don’t have to stay late.

3. If it will help your stress levels, feel free to take some work home, but don’t be a workaholic. A good way to tell the difference is to ask yourself whether you can actually finish the work at home. If you take work home, spend an hour and get it finished and off your plate, great. It will relieve some stress and is one less thing you have to do tomorrow. However, if you take work home, are busy the whole night and you still aren’t finished, save it for the office. Never-ending projects should be imprisoned in office buildings, not homes.

4. If possible, run errands on the way home. It’s so easy to get lazy and go straight home after work, but getting little things off your to-do list is still another check mark on the list. Basically, don’t just travel between work and home. Look at your commute as an opportunity to do other things, too.

5. Make plans. In college, especially if everyone lives on campus, it’s easy to walk over to a friends and just hang out whenever you feel like it. People are generally free in the evenings when classes are over, and if they aren’t home, you can just walk back. No driving necessary, just a little exercise had. Once you move off campus it’s harder to see people and easier to just stay home. So make dates to hang out with friends. Have dinner (eating is a necessary bodily function anyway, no time wasted there), watch a movie, go to the farmers market together–there are too many things to do, and most experiences gain quality with a friend along for the ride.

6. Mostly, what has helped me is finding a basic routine, which fits in everything that needs to get done on a regular basis. Once you know your general schedule, you’ll know where to fit in some fun, where work needs to stop, and you’ll pick up on whether you are spending too little time doing something important (or too much time doing something unimportant).

So there you have it. An essay/article/ramble from someone fresh out of college, trying to figure out how life is supposed to work in the “real world.”

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