Life Schedule Conflicts – the real deal.

This week I had planned to write about a conference I was really pumped to go to. But when the weekend hit and I assessed the work I needed to do for the week to come, I realized that the conference (which would take up most of the day) was a no-go if I wanted to get all my work done. So sadly, I bid adieu to the conference and threw myself into the embrace of the library, its winter-worn students, their haggard postures and hot beverages. I decided to reflect upon this moment of crisis, which I call a Life Schedule Conflict (LSC), because it’s a crisis we face over and over again throughout our time in university. The rigorous academic schedule at UofT seems to show its cruelest face around this time of the year, particularly the weeks just before and after Reading Week. Trying to juggle a fine balance of school, relationships and healthy living is definitely an art form. In fact, these priorities often conflict with each other, and jostle for our attention and energy. IMG_0323 Personal examples of LSC: As an International student, it is not easy, trying to schedule times to Skype my family, and lately most of those efforts are prevented by my visits to the library. Furthermore, as a soon-to-be-graduate, the relationships that sustain me span from university student to full-time working individuals, meaning that large study dates do not suffice for “social time” any more. Even within academia itself, the layers of deadlines for different course assignments means that sometimes I have to forgo readings for classes, in order to get assignments done in others, compromising my in-class engagement, and setting myself back. …and don’t get me started on laundry and dish piles… oh ya. and my PT job. that too.... The point is, we are always dealing with LSCs. There are many different parts of our lives that operate at the same time and sometimes we are forced to make choices. Over the years, I’ve learned that it is not necessarily that difficult to begin the process of facing LSCs.

First, decide on your priorities.

IMG_0325 What is most important at this moment? What am I most able to do right now? What can I change or cannot change? Ordering the tasks we have to execute, whether it be by urgency, by manageability or by functionality means we are actively thinking about the situation. These questions offer clarity into the state of our situation, and give us a chance to sort through the growing to-do lists and file our stress into a more manageable order.

Next, figure out an action plan.

IMG_0328 What should I do first? Set a deadline – try to finish each task by its given time. I usually post-it my daily tasks, and tick them off as they are completed. This gives me encouragement when I’m tired, and prevents panic attacks when I start thinking about the work I have to do and sink into a paralysis at the overwhelming number of thoughts that surface…. …

Lastly, constantly redo the aforementioned actions.

Assess your results at the end of the day, and reshuffle your schedule the next day. You shouldn’t feel the need to stick to a schedule or a list that you created yesterday because your body, your mind and your mood are in a different place today. Paying attention to where you are, helps you to know what you can do, and how you might go about doing it. IMG_0324 Above all, there is hope! Reading week is (almost) here! If there ever was an occasion for #joyatUofT, this would be it.  

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