Growing up, I adored movies such as Pitch Perfect and Legally Blonde. They gave me the impression that university would be less stressful than high school. Not only would we be free from the tight and uncomfortable uniforms, but nagging teachers would also be a thing of the past.

After my first semester in university, I can tell you with 100% confidence that neither did I join an acapella group nor am I blonde.

Jokes aside, I did not expect university life to be such a huge change. I knew that hard work and hours of cramming would still be a part of my life, but I realised that I would have to work harder without the structure that high school provided to maintain a work-life balance. Or should I say study-life balance?

So, here are three essential things that I learned about work-life balance in my first semester at university:

#1 Sleep Is King.

Just like how a king can influence the people of his nation, sleep can impact every part of your life. It affects your emotions and your ability to focus, exercise and pay attention in class. I realised that without at least 7 hours and 30 minutes of sleep, I would not be able to do anything except lay in my bed and look at my kryptonite, my phone.

I also realise that sleep quality is essential because even if I got eight hours of sleep, but I was turning and tossing in bed all night, I would not feel my best in the morning.

Yeah, yeah, I know you know this, but the age-old question right now is how do I improve sleep quality? My answer is sunlight and exercise.

#2 Schedule Activities That Make You Happy

Stress is a constant unwanted companion in university. Even if you are not aware of it, stress may be why you are not producing quality work or are procrastinating on that assignment. Therefore, I always schedule something that I love to do every week. It may be a badminton match with my friends, or something as simple as watching a movie.

I never fail to schedule this into my weeks, even if I have exams or have a busy week ahead because, to keep myself going, I need to make sure that I am in the best shape to continue my work. Plus, it prevents burnout because you give yourself time to relax without any guilt because you have precisely carved out time to have fun.

#3 The 2 Minute Rule is AWESOME!

Dishes? I’ll do them after my next meal. Is my bed not made? I’ll make it later. My laundry basket is overflowing? I’ll do laundry tomorrow.

These thoughts often come to me, and I am sure I am not the only one who has them. I realised that I had been putting these simple tasks into my daily to-do list, and the list became so long that it looked ridiculous, and it stressed me out.

So, I tried out the 2-minute rule. If I can do the task within 2 minutes, I will do it now. There are no excuses, and after almost six months of practising it, it has significantly reduced my stress. My to-do list currently consists of the essential tasks for the day! Although it is not something dramatic, it has changed my life.

That’s it, my first blog post on The Inside Word! I hope you liked it 😉