As 21st century students, our lives are filled with endless activities, from academics and sports to music and service in the community. Throughout this, maintaining a healthy work life balance is imperative to staying stress free and achieving success. Having recently experienced the (I)GCSE examination period, I have learnt several valuable lessons about how to balance one’s rather hectic lifestyle.
For many secondary students, achieving over eight hours of sleep may seem impossible. I thought so too; I sometimes slept under six hours and know of peers who consistently slept for only four. However, during my exam period – spurred by Head of Year Mr Hume’s wise mantra of ‘Eat, sleep, revise, repeat’ – I strove to sleep for nine hours every day. This change really helped to rejuvenate me daily and increased my concentration tenfold. It had a much more positive long-term impact than skiving sleep to study.
I often wasted several studying sessions procrastinating or reviewing information I already knew. I realised it is important to study smart: to set specific studying times and have a clear, achievable goal for your study period. When I didn’t do so, I would sit down to revise and find that, two or three hours later, I had achieved nothing but watched YouTube or scrolled through Instagram. This is something I am still struggling with. Clearly setting aside defined time to study and time to relax, is vital to ensuring you can concentrate. Doing so allows for shorter, more productive studying and, most importantly, frees up time for other activities like sports.
An often-overlooked factor of maintaining work life balance is the importance of setting aside time to spend with your family and friends. They are usually the ones that ensure you are working at a healthy and fruitful pace and having downtime with them really does help to destress and clear the mind. During the Songkran break, I went to the beach with my friend; we set ‘study times’ and studied extensively, but the holiday also allowed me to unwind and reinvigorate myself. The motivation and encouragement from family and friends helped carry me through the exams.
Exercise is also key to a well-rounded lifestyle. Personally, I think it is crucial to continue to participate in your activities, whether they are sports, music, or service, even when studying for an exam. Several of my friends believe that doing sports helps them relax, feel more confident in their abilities, whilst also allowing them to take a much-needed break from studying. I really enjoyed attending my ballet classes and practicing gymnastics as a healthy break from academic study.
As I now grapple with the International Baccalaureate, I have quickly realised that my work life balance is even more essential. The IB requires much greater time management skills so those life lessons learnt during the (I)GCSEs are even more valuable now! I plan carefully to make sure I sleep, study, exercise, keep up with my ECAs, and leave time for family and friends! I am already bewildered by the first term – I can only imagine what I’ll be feeling in a year’s time when I am just months away from final exams in Year 13. Mr Hume’s mantra is great and will stay with me for years to come, although I have added a slight revision – Eat, sleep, revise, RELAX, repeat.