How do you earn a living and still have a life?

  • Thread starter Astro
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  • #1
Any thoughts or recommendations from those of you who have succeeded?

(And if you’re young like me, feel free to reply also; I’d just like to make sure that I don’t just get replies from only one age/experience group—it’s less biased that way.)

Allow me to elaborate:
-- How do you manage to have time for hobbies?
-- How do find the time get out and enjoy the flowers (figuratively and literally). (eg. exercise, clubs, hiking, etc.)
-- How do you NOT spend all day every day and weekends doing homework or (once you’re past post-secondary) working?
-- How do you relax?
-- How do you avoid living vicariously all the time?
-- How do you avoid rushing? How do you avoid a hectic lifestyle?
-- For the wiser people: Looking back, what do you know now that you wish you knew when you were younger? Also, did you learn anything that surprised you?
-- Etc…

I think you get my drift.

Frankly, this is a huge problem for me because for the last several years my lifestyle has been as follows:

Junior High & High School:
(a) Monday-Friday, 6:30 wake up, 6:30-7:30 = bathroom + dress + eat/read paper, 7:30-7:35 get ready to leave, 7:35-7:48 walk to school, 7:48-8:00 locker + homework and/or relax in library, 8:00-8:05 bell rings/go to first class, 8:05 start school, 8:05-11:00 classes and/or homework, 11:00-12:00 lunch break = 11:00-11:17 have lunch + 11:17-12:00 homework, 12:00-2:30 classes and/or homework, 2:30-2:50 locker + walk home, 2:50-4:00 break, 4-9 homework (insert 2 or 3 15min breaks + ½ hr supper around 8pm), 9:00-10 TV break or book + snack, 10:00 bed, (b) Saturday, spend about 7 hours overall doing homework, (c) Sunday, repeat Saturday.

Much busier. (* Took one year of University, so I have an idea what it’s like.)

Friends, holidays, etc.—yeah, I wish!

Without going into any other details let me say simply that I’m freaking out. I **cannot** go through life like that! How do you deal with this realistically?

It really aggravates me when people say things like ‘well, you just make the time’, etc., etc.. I mean, really! Advice like that doesn’t tell me anything I don’t already know. It’s not so much a matter of ‘what’ needs to be done as ‘how in the heck I am going to be able to do these things’?! And yes, I do know you have to prioritize, I do know you should focus on the most important things, go to bed on time, etc., etc..

Now, I am not expecting miracles (although I've no objection) here since (a) it’s doubtful anyone here is omniscient or (b) perfect, furthermore (c) you don’t know me and vice versa so I realize that you can’t exactly give me so-called ‘tailored’ answer to my predicament, and (d) I realize you all have your own lives to take care of which, I imagine, is probably enough in and of itself.

If you have a story from your own life that relates and you think that might help then by all means, please, post it. In fact, that might be more helpful then any other kind of advice you could give. General, specific, whatever—it doesn’t matter as long as you’re actually trying to help and you have something meaningful and constructive to contribute.

Lastly, I am fully aware that any occupation I choose to pursue should match my interests—I AM trying to do that you know. Help in choosing an occupation is really a topic for another thread—probably my next one—but don’t let me stop you if you feel that you must write a little about it here. In this thread, I’m more interested in advice that you can apply to any occupation/block-of-life. If you also want to give advice specific to a particular discipline, please, go right ahead. Don't feel shy! Contribution is the key!

Thank you.
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
I just can say one all is time Management....

However busy yours time schedule is ,,if you have proper Planning you can find time For everything...and these works must go in series of Priorities.....that is if you will try to give more importance to less important work,,your Time management will fail and Frustation and all that will Come
That alll i had to say
  • #3
Give up sleep. And consequently your sanity. 6 all-nighters in 2 weeks and you get used to sleeping every other day. You know the saying. Sleep, social, or school: pick two. (Disclaimer: Don't do it.)

And how did you do 7 hours of homework every day in high school...? Even if I wanted to, I wouldn't've been able to manage more than 2 hours a day, excluding weekends. There just wasn't enough work to go around for 50 hours a week. And then if college is even busier, I'm not sure I even want to know what your schedule now is.

  • #4
For me, I just do a little bit of hw every day. It seems like you're doing 5 hours of hw everyday, so it almost seems like you're doing to much or you are falling behind.

If I were you i would start slow. Go to a basketball court once a week, or sign up for some ultimate frisbee with a friend. Talk a walk. Schedule it ahead of time so your work schedule can adjust.
  • #5
Gold Member
Astro said:
4-9 homework (insert 2 or 3 15min breaks + ½ hr supper around 8pm), 9:00-10 TV break or book + snack, 10:00 bed, (b) Saturday, spend about 7 hours overall doing homework, (c) Sunday, repeat Saturday.
Simple answer: THERE IS NO HOMEWORK IN REAL LIFE :D or well... thats a bad generalization... a majority of the jobs one can have in life do not have "Homework". Your paid to do stuff at your work and in only a few cases are you expected to do otherwise.

Every single person i can think of that has a job does not do anything for their job on the weekends or after work hours. Of course, the higher up you get and the more money you get (especially if you have hundreds of people under you or own a company or something of the sorts with a lot of responsility), the more work you will be doing late at night or during the weekends.
  • #6
If you feel like you don't have time to do anything and your scared to do anything except just studying/working then I suggest that you go ahead and do something you enjoy,( a hobby, excercise, social time whatever) everyday or fairly often. If you make enjoying yourself a habit, then it will be alot easier. Just break the cycle.
  • #7
I would highly recommend NOT giving up sleep. I think that’s terrible advice. Maybe some people can handle a tiny bit of sleep each day, but most people need the approximately 8 hours recommended. If you’re like me, giving up sleep will actually make you feel more stressed out, less likely to do well in school and other tasks, and more likely to fall ill or crash.

I can relate to your situation. In high school especially, what you described was my life. School, homework, sleep, repeat. The good news for me is that I adjusted to college well. College is much harder and much busier, but somehow I was able to triple the amount of extracurricular activities I became involved in, find plenty of time for a social life with friends and my boyfriend, and still do well in my classes as an Astrophysics major. Admittedly, I could be doing a little better in classes, and that’s what I’m going to focus on next year. I even found time for a decent night’s sleep every night – the joy of being able to choose your own schedule.

It’s hard to pinpoint what changed. I changed, and so did my attitudes about school and life. School changed – classes were much tougher, but I was taking less of them at once. I think back to my days in HS doing homework for hours and I honestly can’t remember why I was spending so much time every night. Maybe HS hw was all busywork, while college hw isn’t. I really can’t remember, it’s all a blur.

As for avoiding a rushed, hectic lifestyle, I’m still struggling with that. If anyone had figured that one out, please let us know.

Good luck to you!
  • #8
Gold Member
If someone knows where to find time (is there a time tree somewhere?), let me know. Planning can help, but if, after planning, the time for all of your activities in a day still add up to more than 24 hours, the only thing you can do is drop some of them. I managed a restaraunt when I was 19, and I never left the store! I worked 80+ hours, 7 days a week. Many times I would only leave the store to go home, possibly sleep for 20 minutes, shower, change, and go right back. Seriously- I'm not exaggerating; I sometimes set my alarm to go off exactly 18 minutes later (or whatever- 21, 32 minutes). Of course, I was pulling the store out of a bad situation, so there was a lot of extra work to do. The store did fabulously and broke records, but I was burnt out within 6 months- just couldn't do it anymore.

Looking back, I would have been better off today if I had been able to stay and make it work. I also got nothing else accomplished the whole time and lost touch with friends and family. Pushing yourself until you break isn't the way to go. If you don't believe me, just try to stay awake and not eat for 4 days (well, hopefully you won't really need to do this!). You have limits, period.

If you've taken on more than you can handle, you just need to give up some of your responsibilities or find people to help or share things with you. For instance, you can share running errands (shopping, post office, etc.). Make a list of what you need, let one person go one week (or whatever), another go the next time. Do you really need to be taking so many classes, or can you stretch them out over a longer period? Hurting yourself to try to impress others isn't wise. Knowing your own limits and abilities and having the courage to be your own judge and do what you think is best is what's wise, at least in my book. Are you doing favors for people? If you don't have time, you just don't have time. You don't need to feel bad about saying no.

As for relaxing, lumping relaxation and sleeping time together helps me. If I have 4 hours to myself, I take them all at once before or after I go to bed, rather than splitting them up over the day; I can really relax more this way, and it's easier to fall sleep. Trying to relax by "doing nothing" doesn't relax me- it's just boring, and I usually just end up thinking about everything else I need to do. Doing something I really enjoy works best, even if it's a lot of work. The enjoyment aspect is what's relaxing and invigorating. So when you figure out your schedule, don't count something as relaxing time unless it actually relaxes you. If you aren't going to enjoy eating, eat while you work. If you want to enjoy your meal, really enjoy it. It sounds like you don't have time for half-relaxing. Squeeze in as much work as you can during work time and do what you enjoy the rest of the time. :approve:

Oh, I should stress this part more. It sounds like your problem is "psychological" rather than "physical". If you get enough sleep, you shouldn't be physically tired; And being physcially tired should help you sleep better anyway. You are talking about being psychologically stressed.? The solution to that is pretty easy. You have a set amount of work you need to do. Say you have 2 hours to fit in work and relaxing. If you work at an easy pace, you can finish work in an hour. If you work at a more intense- but still manageable- pace, you can finish in half an hour. You aren't relaxing while you work- it's still work no matter how long it takes! So just get it over with as quickly as possible and start relaxing. Even if it makes you a little tireder, since you finished faster, you have more time to rest! :biggrin:
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  • #9
Yeah it is quite tough to answer such a question. You have a few choices, give up your social life (what I would do), give up sleep, give up school. You could of course mix things up: Take fewer classes and have a better social life, but that is up to you.

Personally, I plan on being a loser for the next two years, as I have been for the past two years. Because, even though I may be a loser for the next two years, I will easily graduate when I am 21, and from there I can have fun for the rest of my life. Small price to pay if you ask me.
  • #10
I know what you mean Astro, things can get a little rushed. But when people say 'just make time for it' - well, it's true, it's the only thing you can do. When I was at school it was like that. I got up at 6:30 in the morning and often returned home at 10:00 at night and then still had homework to do, because after getting out of school at 5:30 I went to the local newspapers for a meeting and then straight on to do sport until 9:00. I needed that sport to balance things out, you should take up a sport too, even if it means you end up with little time for 'work'. I'm sure you were more diligent in doing your homework than I was. I had 12 subjects, and only really cared about Maths and Physics as those were the ones I needed for uni - I started off with a lot of ambition and wanted good grades in all subjects, so I worked hard to achieve good grades in all subjects, but in my last year I let things slip a bit and concentrated on the important subjects, so I just did the minimum amount of work for the other subjects. I think that is generally the thing to do at uni too. Work out how much each exam will count towards the end result, which courses are basic knowedge that you need and which courses interest you and which don't at all - and then work out which courses you can afford to learn only a minimum for and if the next exam coming up is really all that important. You have to do that, you can't go through uni revising for every single test they'll throw at you or for every single unit, it'll mean that you just won't have time to socialise.
When you do start work, I guess it's easier, well, depending on your chosen profession of course. If you work in a school, you will still have to work outside of 'school hours', but if you work in most firms you can just shut off after you drive home and the rest of the time is free for you to what ever you want to in it. A managerial job will require a lot more time, a lot of your free time, but the pay will be better - it will be hard to find the time if you take on a lot of responsibilities. The less responsibilities a job comes with, the more time you will have for your hobbies - that's how I see it, but people are free to set me right, I'm aware there may be exceptions, but in general that's how I think it is.

Personally, after my last year of school, which I thought was hell in terms of stress levels...(I didn't do much revising during my free period - I slept on the common room sofa I was so tired - oh, and I even looked forward to latin lessons :uhh: (because I could sleep through them too :zzz: )) I think don't think I want a high-paid managerial job, I don't want cash, I want a life. I only have one life and I don't want to waste it. So right now (my plans may change in the future of course ;-) ) I think I will go for some job that will end when the office or lab closes, in order to keep my free time 'mine'.

edit: this topic has made me think of a book we read in school once. Herman Hesse - Unterm Rad (Beneath the Wheel) - good book!
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  • #11
Jesus, you are one hell of an overachiever if you spend 38 hours a week on homework in junior high & high school. I spent barely 10-15 hours a week outside of class on homework last semester and I'm a chemistry major who did 3 science courses (calculus, physics & organic chem) and 2 non-science courses (18 credit hours total). People in grad school barely/rarely put in 38 hours a week of homework and studying unless they are at MIT. Then again my GPA was 3.1 last semester. Not terrible, but not great either (not that it matters honestly). I may be considered lazy and a sorry student for such a small amount of (relative) effort, but at the end of the day I have alot of free time and am not burnt out by any means.

Honestly, it sounds like you are not studying very effeciently. That or you are a really strong overachiever. Fixing one or both of those things could be a good idea. In the real world does it matter what grades you get in junior high? Hell, it doesn't even matter what grades you get in college or where you went to college once you have some work experience.
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  • #12
I used to have same problems when I was doing a Job as a employee, but since I started my consultancy , All thoes problems are a thing of my past.
  • #13
I've been told several things about GPAs and engineering, etc. And it amounts to this: a 3.1 is not "competitive" enough to get the internships required for a nice engineering/physics job out of college. The work you put into college now translates into less work getting where you want to be in the real world.

So, I would force some recreational time into your schedule at the expense of studying. Don't slack off enough to earn < 3.4. In fact, consider it all into terms of GPA, figure out how much work you need to get a 3.5 every semester (or better) and commit that time. The time left over is for socializing and the like.
  • #14
I say nobody can answer that question for you. Once you have a good job, you will have to figure it out on your own.

EDIT: Keep in mind that you won't be working 16 hours a day. In school you had school AND homework(that you supposidly did for 38 hours a week).
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  • #15
" I needed that sport to balance things out,"

Same here. I usually come home at around 10pm from school since i go to sports directly after. It was a big decision to do school insted of sports so i need to at least do them a few times a week to keep me happy.
  • #16
ktpr2 said:
I've been told several things about GPAs and engineering, etc. And it amounts to this: a 3.1 is not "competitive" enough to get the internships required for a nice engineering/physics job out of college. The work you put into college now translates into less work getting where you want to be in the real world.

So, I would force some recreational time into your schedule at the expense of studying. Don't slack off enough to earn < 3.4. In fact, consider it all into terms of GPA, figure out how much work you need to get a 3.5 every semester (or better) and commit that time. The time left over is for socializing and the like.
Fair enough. But there are other things a person can do to improve their job prospects. They can do independent research as an undergrad with a professor, or they can volunteer at a firm, or they can network. My CGPA is 3.5 right now, but I was told by my advisor that GPA was not a huge concern for internships, at least for chemistry.
  • #17
Gold Member
I think what you need (other than what everyone said here -- which basically covered it all nicely) is to prioritize so that your weekends are completely free. Not even a thought about school! Even better - if you can have a Friday off - go for it! Bunch up your classes (2-3 classes per day), do most of your work in school or during evenings, and make sure most of your Friday is off - that way you have time for socializing on Friday and Saturday, fishing/running/hiking on Sunday. Live your life a week at a time. You can keep a calendar on your computer (like ADC Calendar - ), and for lab reports/projects just put them in same week and keep them active until its done.

Oh and if you are doing 5 hours of homework there is something wrong with either your way of studying or your education in general. I'm assuming you are a sophomore - dont put the projects off and homeworks/assignments/lab reports to tomorrow. Do them same day of the lab or assignment. As for test cramping - it doesnt work. You need to study the material same day for maybe an hour for every 2 hours of lecture, and you'll remember it by the test time, and wont need to prepare. There is plenty of hours in the day for any workload - and cut an hour from sleep - down to 7 hours.
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