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How to Cook in Your Dorm Room, First Apartment and Beyond

Category: Food & Drink,Lifestyle

Let’s Figure It Out

Laura Masgula, a recent graduate from N.Y.U., sent us a problem to figure out this week:

I’d love to hear how people just out of college are balancing work, friends, family, exercise, extracurriculars, etc. while still attempting to eat well, sleep and budget. It’s been a challenge trying to manage everything personally so getting some advice or just being able to hear from others would be valuable.

Several contributors to The Edit are recent graduates. Here’s what they had to say.

Nushrat Rahman:

Having been out of school for over five months and I’m now realizing how all-consuming school was for me. I juggled community organizing, internships, friendships and family commitments along the way. All of this took a toll on my physical health — my acne was out of control — and my mental health spiraled to the point where I was in a perpetual bubble of anxiety. People around me noticed. My spirituality took a hit as well.

Now, I’m careful not to fall into the habits from a few months ago. Some good advice I got from a mentor once was to undercommit and over-deliver. I’m trying to live by that mantra daily. I try my hardest to nail down the basics in my day, like food, sleep and five daily prayers. I then prioritize everything else around those three elements, whether it’s work, freelancing or community organizing.

Robbie Harms:

The biggest thing I’ve learned since I graduated in 2015 is to carve out some daily, uninterrupted me time. For me, that takes the form of running. Every day, no matter how much stuff I have to do and how much time I don’t have to do it, I try to run — around seven miles a day. Sometimes it’s gloriously mind-clearing, and other times it’s not very fun at all. But without fail, I’m always glad I did it.

Maybe you like to draw, or read or watch TV, or just simply sit and talk. I’ve learned that the most important thing with whatever you choose, though, is to do it as consistently as possible — every day if you can. That way it becomes as ingrained in your daily routine as brushing your teeth. One more thing: I deleted my Facebook account on Jan. 1, and I haven’t missed it yet.

Karina Balan Julio:

I’ve accepted that in some weeks I’ll be more effective in some areas than in others, and that no matter how much I plan my days, some things will take more time than I originally expected. For instance: There are weeks where I have to work a little bit longer to get everything under control at my job, so I end up exercising less and postponing other activities I planned for myself. In others, I’m super healthy and everything is fine with my extracurricular studies and at work, but my apartment’s a bit messy, and I may have some unexpected expenses. Sleep, though, is not negotiable for me. I feel like I need to sleep at least six hours a day, otherwise everything else won’t work.

Ian Caveny:

I’ve been out of undergrad (though not out of school) since 2013, married since 2014, and a parent since 2016, and I am beginning to understand that one of the truths of this stage of life is learning how to “surf.” Having a balanced life does not look like trying to make my life still, it’s about learning the skills necessary to stay on the surfboard when there’s a big wave.

Some of those skills are structural, like planning a weekly or monthly budget, or using task-managing apps (like Wunderlist) to keep track of things. Some of those skills are internal, and you have to learn them by failing time and time again.

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