Balancing Act: Keeping up Without Getting Overwhelmed

Written by Emma Polefko – Program Advisor, IPJ

wake up. metro. work. class. metro. sleep. repeat.

The daily grind can be overwhelming at times. Sometimes it becomes such a routine that you don’t even realize the days have passed, and other times you’re so busy you feel like you can barely keep up. How do you balance it all?

Most of us are overachievers in one way or another. We did, after all, volunteer to give up our summers to intern full time, take classes, and attend countless other events. But, overachievers are only human. And we inevitably need help to balance it all – whether or not we ask for help is another blog post for another day. Without having to ask, here are some tips and tricks to keep everything in balance. Even if you’ve heard them or read them before, they bear repeating.


Buy a planner or utilize the calendar on your phone or email. They are quite helpful. There’s something to be said about rote learning, and the nice thing about technology is that it can send you reminders – even for little things like picking up your drying cleaning or writing a blog post.

That said…

Put down your phone.

Constant interruptions make it harder to accomplish your tasks in a timely fashion. Do yourself a favor and put your phone down. Snapchat, social media, news blasts, sports updates and texts can all wait. The more focused you are on the task at hand, the easier your life will be.

Books before bed.

Between working, commuting, watching another episode of your favorite show on Netflix, staying in touch with friends, and keeping up with the news, we all stare at our screens far too much. Here’s an interesting concept: read a book before bed. Something that is so simple and obvious that is forgotten too often. It’s easier on the eyes, and it’s a nice break for the brain (depending on what you’re reading). Develop a better vocabulary, learn something new, start a great conversation.


Beware of the black hole that is Netflix. During finals one year, I watched a whole season of Scandal. That’s almost 24 hours. Those 24 hours could have easily been put to use in a much more productive way.

Good company.

Call home (or FaceTime). Write a letter to a friend. Eat dinner with friends. We’re all busy and we all get tired, but¬†sometimes good company is all you need. Be present (read: put down your phone, again). Be grateful and enjoy the little things.

Make time for things you enjoy.

Go to your favorite museum and stare at your favorite painting. Take time to go on a run or do yoga. Go sit in your favorite park or on the National Mall. Call a friend. Try new food. Go grab a cupcake or gelato. Drink a cup of coffee because you like the taste of it, not because you need an energy boost. Take care of yourself, and everything else will fall into place.

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