Whenever people find out about how much I have going on, I’m often asked how I manage to do it all. Or if you’re my mom, you always make sure to remind me to not get burnt out and to not get behind in my schoolwork (and since I know you’re reading this – you’re the best, mom!). So between maintaining my Dean’s List status with a full course load, working part-time, fully involving myself with CSMMSS life, volunteering with whatever draws me in, loving my sweetheart of a boyfriend, and keeping up with my friends – I’m finding the time to write some of my tips in this blog. Because it really is possible to do it all.
Write It Down: The most important piece of advice I can offer to those who are struggling to keep track of their busy lives is to write it down. Personally, I have an old-school agenda where I write down every detail about everything, I use my iPhone calendar to generally remind myself of the things I have going on, I downloaded this amazing app called iStudiez Pro which keeps track of all my schoolwork (you can set alarms that remind you when you have big projects coming up), and sticky notes are my best friend (both virtual on my laptop desktop, and real ones which I stick almost everywhere). I’m not saying everyone needs all of these things, but find out what works for you and stick to it. I can’t remember the last time I missed an appointment or forgot about a homework assignment since I found the system that works for me.
Prioritize & Perspectivize: Although I made it up, you’ll realize that perspectivize really should be a word after I use it in a sentence. I have to admit that its a little overwhelming to look at a week in my agenda and see all of the red pen, highlighted notes, and exaggerated stars littering the pages (I should mention that I LOVE colour-coding). But as overwhelming as it may seem, after you perspectivize, you’ll realize that it’s really not as bad as it seems. Realistically, every assignment isn’t going take as long as the other, and believe it or not, you can really get a lot done in 2 hours! So take a look at your week and figure out what’s the most important thing to get done (a 35% paper vs. doing your weekly readings – obviously both important) but decide what’s more pressing, and make those your first priority.
Use Your Time Wisely: I think one of the biggest mistakes someone can make is wasting those 2 hour breaks you have in your schedule. If used wisely, these breaks can be used for catching up on some reading, or tackling a big chunk of that essay you have to write. You just have focus and cut the distractions. You’ll be amazed at how quick your mind works when you’re not constantly breaking your train of thought to answer text messages or refresh your twitter feed.
Take Breaks & Be Lazy: I think one of the main reasons why I don’t get burnt out is because I allow myself to relax. If I’m super productive during the day – that means I can have the evening to watch Netflix or go out, but if I’m not as productive as I originally planned…. well, then there’s no rest for the wicked. This is why To-Do lists are so important – you can easily see what you need to get done that day (and crossing things off is a great feeling), and when the list is done, you know you are too.
Do What You Love: Post-secondary students are constantly bombarded with messages telling them to get involved, network, build your resume, do well in school, etc. But going to networking events and joining extracurriculars are going to seem like a chore if you don’t enjoy them – and who wants to fill their days with chores? This year I joined the CSMMSS Exec Team, and it’s been a crazy ride so far – we always have a million things going on, and we always put 100% into everything… but I LOVE going to our meetings and events! I’ve met some wonderful new friends, and it’s so awesome to see our events and programs come to life. The same goes for my work life, my school life, and virtually everything else I put my time into. And although noone enjoys studying for exams, I think it helps that I love my program and am genuinely interested in the material I learn.
So while you’re trying to balance the excitement of Christmas, the stress of exams, and everything else in between, I’m hoping you’ll find that some, or all, of my tips work for you too! I love staying busy, but I find it’s so much easier to enjoy myself and live in the moment if I’m not trying to think of everything else I should be doing.