When I made the choice to go back to university after working full-time for the better part of my twenties, it upended my normal routine. As any student can tell you, finding a balance between schoolwork and job work (and getting enough sleep, and having a social life, and making efforts to exercise and eat healthy, etc.) is a Herculean task. Not to mention that I've been living through a pandemic for most of my university life!
Finding that balance can be overwhelming, and it’s a constant juggle between work and school responsibilities and living a fulfilling life. I’m truly fortunate to be working at Scriptorium, where I’m able to work remotely and build my work schedule around my classes.
Three years into my degree, I don’t claim to be an expert, but here are five strategies that I’ve used to maintain that delicate balance between university, work, and personal well-being:
Plan, Plan, and Plan Some More!
Planning will help you use your time and energy more effectively and give you a more manageable grasp of the semester ahead.
Identify your goals and deadlines for studying, work, and any other tasks that need to get done.
Break large tasks into smaller, more manageable segments. This makes them a lot less daunting!
Experiment with different planning methods to find one that works best for you. I like to use a physical to-do list and calendar to track and schedule my tasks.
Set Your Priorities
I remember one of my instructors saying (somewhat jokingly): “Good grades, good sleep, good social life. Pick two.”
I like to think that I can have it all, but sometimes you’ll need to decide which of your endeavours are the most important, especially towards the end of the semester crunch.
Take some time to reflect on your priorities at school, at work, and at home, and consider which will take the highest priority during the semester.
When deciding between tasks to complete, consider the Urgent-Important Matrix: if it must be done now, has clear consequences, and affects your long-term goals, do it first!
Though planning and prioritizing are wonderful, it’s inevitable that unexpected circumstances or shifts in priorities will occur at some point.
Embrace a flexible mindset and be prepared to adjust your plans accordingly.
Practice Self Care
Your mental and physical health should always come first. Neglecting your own well-being will inevitably negatively affect your academic and professional life.
Make time for activities that nourish your mind and body, such as pursuing your hobbies, practicing mindfulness or meditation, exercising, and spending quality time with your loved ones. Take regular breaks and give yourself time to relax. And—I cannot stress this enough—get enough sleep!
Self-care also involves cutting yourself some slack. Remember to be kind to yourself, and understand that doing everything perfectly all the time is simply not possible.
You don't have to shoulder all of your responsibilities alone. Though it can feel uncomfortable, asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Reach out for support from classmates, colleagues, friends, or family when needed. Don’t be afraid to communicate openly with instructors or supervisors about schedule conflicts or upcoming deadlines to explore alternative solutions.