This post was written by Aditya Mahesh, founder of AMBeat.com, a complete resource for entrepreneurs complete with advice articles, start-up profiles, interviews, news analysis, and more.
Common wisdom suggests that academics are always chief in importance. Students, at least those here in the United States, are told time and time again that extra-curricular activities, whether it is a sports team or clubs, always come after academics. Student entrepreneurs and bloggers have a tendency not to follow this rule of thought.
Throughout my high school and college experiences, I have always been more dedicated to and more passionate about my business and my blogs than I have my schoolwork. I was recently going through my Algebra notebook from 11th grade and noticed that for every page of Math notes were three pages of business ideas, future blog posts, marketing strategies, etc. Still, while I always placed more emphasis on my business, I was always able to balance my work with my academics, allowing me to excel in both.
For those of you who are not students, the information in this post is still applicable for balancing a blog/work balance of you blog part-time and work at another job or a blog/life balance if you are a full time blogger.
The key to managing my business work and my school work is time management and planning ahead. It is absolutely vital that you do not procrastinate, because all procrastination does is lead to a great increase in personal stress and a great decrease in work output quality.
Throughout the course of my high school education and now in college, I maintain two separate calendars, one for school work and one for business. In my school work calendar I plot out all assignments that have been assigned and when they are due. Typically, I have as much as three weeks lead time for major papers and projects and know of testing dates at the beginning of the semester. Once I have established my calendar, I plan out my time so that I have a final product completed, whether it is an edited version of my essay or completely developed and analyzed study guide for a midterm, one week in advance. This way, I can ensure that all assignments will be completed in time and that I will not be scrambling at the last minute to get everything done. There are no surprises. It also leaves me a week to take my paper to my professor for additional editing or time to review for a test instead of cramming, allowing me to ensure that I excel in my academic work.
Sticking to this schedule is by no means easy. It requires hard work and dedication amidst all the distractions there are in the life of a student, especially in college dorm life. Yet sticking to this schedule is definitely possible and you will find that it frees up more of your time for recreation. Instead of sleeping in until noon or wasting time pointlessly surfing the web, take control of your time and get some work done. This way, you miss out on nothing, have your work completed, and can still relax or go out at night and during the weekends.
Once you have an academic calendar finalized, it comes to creating a work/blogging calendar and matching it with your academic calendar. You will tend to notice that despite even a rigorous course load, there is still plenty of time for business if you manage your time efficiently. I do the same thing for my business calendar that I do for my academic calendar; make a list of what all I need to get done and when. For example, as a blogger I need to write posts and market my blog so I create an editorial calendar to plan out which pieces I’m going to post when and a marketing plan to schedule when I am going to execute certain elements of my marketing strategy.
I schedule this work into time I have not dedicated as “academic time”. You will see that you begin to develop a routine as with blogging and school the same tasks have to be completed over and over again, whether it be writing posts or studying for weekly quizzes. Over time and with practice it becomes easier.
However, you must take into consideration the fact that there are certain times when you need to spend more time focusing on school and more time focused on business and you need to plan ahead for these times. For example, during finals week I need to be 100% focused to studying for my exams, yet I can’t just let my blog or business sit idle. In these cases, get help from the outside, getting guest posters, paid writers, or pre-scheduling posts. Remember, planning is very important.
While a blog/school balance is definitely doable, you have to be careful how many things you are involved in. There are only 24 hours in the day and you need to rest and take time to enjoy life, so make sure to not overextend yourself getting involved in too many different activities at one time. I have gone both routes, doing a little bit of everything and a doing lot of fewer things and have found that when I focus on fewer activities, I can fully dedicate myself to them and actually accomplish something meaningful. Prioritization is also very important. You have to do some research and soul searching to find what is MOST important to you. Personally, I recommend focusing on academics until your business or blog begins to take off and earn revenues. Even once you find professional success, I strongly recommend staying focused academically and achieving to the best of your ability because I am finding that academic effort and success and constantly opening new doors for me in my personal and professional lives.