Balance, How-to, Student Life

Juggling Commitments

The hardest part about university is learning how to manage your time. University is a bit different than high school due to the fact that the course load is heavier, you are away from home (if you are international student such as myself), and you have more freedom than you usually do through out the day. In high school, you would generally have class back to back and you are constantly in a work flow. In university, you can have classes back to back on one day, but also have 2 classes another day or even no class. What does one do with all that freedom? The obvious answer is to study and review class material, however, that rarely turns out to be the case. In reality, we either use the time to sleep in (unless you are very disciplined), do a bit of studying or no studying at all, and participate in extracurricular activities such as going to the gym, club commitments, or just simple socializing. It’s important to build time management skills because it will prevent stress in the future and prepare you for the job market after you graduate. Here are some ways that I do to manage my time.

Planners & Calendars
The first step in trying to stay organized and manage your time is investing in a planner or a calendar. I personally own one yearly planner and two calendars. I know that may be a little excess, but I need to constantly see what events, commitments, or deadlines are approaching in upcoming weeks and months. By having a planner and two calendar, I can plan my day in order to meet deadlines before it becomes hectic as it nears. Believe it or not, even as a third year I’m constantly refining my time management skills.

A picture of two calendars that I use

I have two U of T calendars. One shows my schedule for the month and the other shows the upcoming events for the next 3 months. This really helps me stay on track of my work and on what to expect.

A picture of my planner

These are my yearly planner and journal. I write my To- Do Lists in these.

To-Do List
After knowing my weekly schedule and upcoming deadlines, I create to-do lists for the day and rank them in priority. Additionally, I tend to create weekly goals that I’d like to achieve by the end of the week. However, To- Do lists can be tricky. Listing all the things you have to do can be helpful in knowing what things need to be done by the end of the day, but it sometimes can be unrealistic. Sometimes I create long lists that I never finish by the end of the day because I have a physical and mental limit. Additionally, certain things can pop up uncontrollably during the day that can disrupt my initial plan. Therefore, when making To-Do List it’s best to create lists that you know you are able to do within a day and spread the list throughout the week.

A picture of my planner with my To-Do Lists

I create lists of tasks that I need to accomplish for each day.

Discipline
Discipline is the most crucial aspect of staying organized. You can have a plan made for the entire week in order to stay on top of your work, but if you are consistent with the plan, then you will start to fall behind on your deadlines. This can eventually lead to stress and feelings of being overwhelmed as work and commitments pile up. It’s hard to stay consistent, but by giving yourself short lists that are actually achievable can help make accomplishing a task less of a burden.

Time management is a skill that everyone needs in their toolbox. It helps keep your everyday activities balanced and ensures you are taking care of yourself as well. Despite classes and extracurriculars, don’t forget to give yourself downtime. By using a planner or calendar, creating to-do lists, and staying disciplined you will be amazed at how much you can achieve while maintaining close relationships and staying healthy.