Your latest Welcome Crew mentor tip: ‘Don’t be shy to schedule time to relax’
Hesham Abdelrahman is a graduate student in the Department of Building, Civil and Environmental Engineering and a Concordia Welcome Crew mentor with the Student Success Centre.
We often hear the term “work-life” balance,” but as a university student I’m constantly juggling my “school-life” balance.” Managing your studies and your social life can sometimes be really challenging. With the multiple assignments, quizzes, group projects and class deadlines, you can quickly feel overwhelmed and like it’s impossible to do anything other than study.
In my experience, though, it’s always worth finding a way to include some extracurricular activities in your schedule. Swimming is my escape. But no matter your favourite hobby, it can help get your mind off university stresses, improve your physical and mental health and even allow you to work on your interpersonal skills.
It’s not always easy to balance it all — especially when part- or full-time employment is in the mix too — but here are some tips that I find really useful to promote a healthy balance between school and the rest of life:
1. Plan ahead
With every new term, try to make a plan of all the things you want to do. If you only start your plan by mid-term, that’s OK — better late than never. Make use of the calendar apps on your cellphone, your student agenda or this term planner to track all your classes, assignment deadlines and important appointments.
Once you’ve done that, identify times you can reserve for non-university activities. Review and update your schedule one week or at least one day ahead to avoid waking up in the morning with no clue of what you need to do — that’s a major time waster!
2. Identify your priorities
Through trial and error, I’ve learned to always determine my highest and lowest priorities among all of my activities for the week. It helps me decide the amount of time and dedication needed for each to-do item.
I believe that setting your priorities, not only for the week but also for the term, is crucial to help you maintain a good balance between your school and social life. By prioritizing your assignments, projects and studies based on the level of difficulty and due dates, you avoid wasting time on the daily debate about which things to work on first.
3. Know your limits
Don’t overwhelm yourself with a very busy schedule that you won’t be able to maintain. Use your priority ranking to identify some things to cancel or remove from your schedule. Having too many activities and commitments that are beyond your limits and abilities will often result in higher stress and, sadly, you won’t be able to give enough time or attention to any of them.
4. Try not to procrastinate
Allowing your work to pile up day after day can make it really hard to motivate yourself to get started. Plus, distractions like social media, video games and Netflix can easily block you from doing any school-related tasks and make catching up that much harder.
In my experience, studying week by week and always keeping up with your professor during class is key to maintaining a balance that allows you to fit all your social activities into your schedule.
5. Plan time to relax
Don’t be shy to schedule time to relax. I even recommend writing it down in your term planner. After a busy week of schoolwork and social activities, you’ll likely need some time for yourself. Watching a movie, going for a walk or just relaxing at home can all be great ways to improve your mood and release some of the week’s stress. And never underestimate what a good night’s sleep can do!
Find out more about Concordia’s Student Success Centre.