School-life balance: It’s different for everyone

Posted on Monday, September 20, 2021

Author: Samantha Perry, fourth year student, Communications

Notepad with pen

Every year, we tell ourselves, “This year, it will be different. This year, I’m going to plan and have everything done early.” Right? At some point, we’ve all realized that there are too few hours in the day to do everything we’re supposed to.

I’m sure many of us are familiar with this meme:

 good grades, social life, enough sleep.

If there were a secret formula that could give us the perfect balance, I would share it with you right now. But it doesn’t work that way. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for someone else. We must find our own balance through experience — and sometimes, through trial and error.

There are some steps, however, that everyone can try.

  • Know (and be honest with) yourself: What are your strengths and challenges?
  • Determine your priorities (not your friends’ or your family’s).
  • Establish realistic goals.
  • Plan how to best use your time. There’s only 24 hours in a day!

 

Know (and be honest with) yourself

Which aspects of your life are easy for you? Which ones require more attention?

Let’s use the 7 Pillars of Wellness as an example. Most things related to academics will fall under Intellectual Wellness. It’s great to learn new things and challenge yourself, but your wellness can’t be solely dependent on succeeding academically. Being social, being in tune with your environment, getting exercise, practicing your beliefs and values — these are all important pieces to consider too.

Knowing the Pillars that come easy to you, the ones that are most important to you, and the ones you need to work on, will help you prioritize and allow you to be proactive about maintaining school-life balance.

Determine your priorities

The next step is to prioritize the multiple aspects of your life. This can include school or work, friends and family, health, hobbies, etc.

Priorities can, and usually do, change quite often. Your priorities may look very different this time next month, next week, or even tomorrow! One way to ensure you are prepared for these changes is to set goals for yourself.

The process of goal setting is crucial to being productive. It often helps to tackle the biggest things first, the ones that you can’t change, like class times and work schedules. Once you’ve defined the big ones, the smaller things can fit in around them.

Establish goals

Once you’ve established your priorities and know your strengths and challenges, set yourself some goals. Write them down and leave them somewhere visible so you can be reminded of them. This will allow you to always keep them in focus.

If you’re looking for a hand in establishing goals, the counselling team is running a Goal-Setting Workshop on October 1! A counsellor will guide you through a goal-setting process during this hour-long session with a small group of students.

Make a plan for your time

The next step is to plan. The goal of planning is to reduce anxiety surrounding deadlines and their urgency. We all have deadlines, but there’s a difference between importance and urgency.

That 20-page assignment is important, but if it’s due next month it may not be as urgent as meal prepping for the week. If you can structure your time ahead of the deadline, it no longer feels as intimidating. One way to tackle this could be to break up the work into sections that you can assign to certain days and build in mini-deadlines to keep yourself on track.  

There will come a time, however, where something is both important and urgent. This is when it’s good to consider your priorities. Does this have to do with your physical or mental health? If so, it should always come first, and other urgent matters can be dealt with later. In order to do well, we must first be well. That’s something we sometimes need to remind ourselves.

These steps will help you avoid procrastination and free up more time in your schedule that you can spend on yourself, your priorities, and your interests.


If I can leave you with some final words, it’s that there’s a huge difference between working hard and working a lot. Work smarter, not harder!

 

Adapted from a text by Laurent Currer-Briggs

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