7 Ways to Improve your Robotics/Life Balance

7 Ways to Improve your Robotics/Life Balance

Imagine for a moment that you’re not some super genius that does robotics. You’re a typical teenager. All you have to deal with are typical teenager things: school, friends, parents, job, homework, chores, social life, sleep (yes, you really do need sleep, don’t kid yourself). Somehow typical teenagers handle it all. Now, let's come back to reality. You have all those things, PLUS robotics. 

Here’s what a typical person might do: PANIC!

Here’s what you will do: balance your responsibilities.

But, how are you supposed to do that? Good question.

Let me outline seven things that will help you have the perfect robotics and life balance.

1. You will hear me say this a lot, but that’s only because it’s important. Breathe. When you breathe and take deep breaths, your body naturally relaxes and you can focus better. Often in times of stress, we forget to just breath and relax. Take a moment now to do that. 

2. Stay organized. If you’re one of those people that can magically stay organized, kudos to you. I’m not one of those people. But if i’ve learned one thing, it’s that organization is key. Planners help and lists help. Everyone has their own method. Personally, I use a digital calendar. Everything goes in there, color coded. This way I know what I have to do for what. School is one color, work is another, FIRST, and so on. This prevents me from missing any deadlines and panicking.

3. ‘Me’ time. Yes, ‘me’ time. It’s important. This is when you stop doing your work and do something that relaxes you - movies, books, bubble baths. This allows your brain to decompress and refocus. And it’s necessary.

4. “Work smart, not hard.” I don’t remember who first told me this, but it’s helped me a lot in the past few years. Working smart starts with being organized and it prevents you from doing tasks over and over. For example, when I am writing something, like this article, I would make sure to plan out what I am wanting to communicate before I just start writing away hoping that something good will come to mind. Work smarter. 

5. Learn to say ‘No’. This is SUCH an important lesson to learn. You can’t do everything. Sometimes you just have too much on your plate. You might not have a lot of responsibilities in robotics, but you still might have too much. Learn to pace yourself and say no to things, even though I know you really want to. 

Learn to pace yourself and say no to things, even though I know you really want to. 

6. Prioritize. Continuing with what I was saying in the previous point…Some things are inherently more important than others. There will come a time when you cannot do everything. When that time comes you prioritize. That means looking at everything you have to do and listing them in order of importance. Seems simple in theory, right? In practice… I’ve found not so much. It takes practice.

7. When you fall, get back up. This is something I’m sure you’ve been told your entire life. But sometimes it's harder done then said. You will make mistakes in your life trying to balance everything and may make the wrong judgement call. It has happened to the best of us. What differs those at the top from those at the bottom is their ability to get back up when they fall and learn from their mistakes. I have the confidence in you to learn from your mistakes and to press on. 

Written by Mackenzie Valdez


Mackenzie spent 3 years on the FIRST Team 4343 where she held all sorts of positions, ranging from head of pit crew to assistant director. She currently studies Mech Eng at Lakehead and mentors FIRST Team 4732. Robotics (and her amazing mentors) are the reasons why she is where she is now.

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