Balancing School

Hi everyone, we are back for the second day of wellness week! The theme for today is how students balance school and volunteer/employment. Having a balance between academics, work and personal life can be difficult. Maintaining your well-being is important, especially during stressful or busier times. Today, we’ll hear more about student experiences and how they juggle their own schedules while prioritizing self-care.

How do you balance your schedule? How do you maintain your own self-care or well-being during these busy times?

Laura“Before COVID-19 hit, I had a really busy schedule! On top of school, I had a part-time job and volunteer work, all while applying to co-op. To help keep myself organized, I like to make myself a calendar of when I’ll be busy and block that time out in advance. I also like to write myself a to-do list for the week to make sure I’m keeping myself on track and I haven’t forgotten to do anything. This helps me plan out assignments in advance to avoid procrastinating and also lets me see when I have free time! Planning things out in advance helps me plan self-care like seeing my friends, working out or even just taking a night off to myself. I would say that planning things out in advance is even more important during a fully online semester when it can get hard to keep track of assignments”.

 - Laura Jimenez, 3B, Health Sciences

Since I’m doing both online class and working from home this semester, I try to prioritize and get work done during the appropriate hours. There are some days where I have to do overtime in my co-op. So I try to balance and do homework on the weekends. I use applications like Microsoft Teams, Outlook Calendar, and OneNote — using these digital apps can be helpful as they are all connected to your student email. 

AngelicaFor balancing mental health and awareness, I make sure that I don’t overwhelm myself. What’s great about co-op and supervisors is that they’ll approach me with a project and ask me if I have the capacity to do this. They ask me if I can fit this project into my schedule and they are very flexible about it. They know that we are co-op students that are capable of managing these tasks but that we also still have the freedom to refuse. When it comes to self-care, you need to know how to prioritize your schedule. (Coffee helps too!) 

In terms of projects, it’s important to have an open discussion between you and your supervisor where you can freely discuss your goals and what the company expects from you as a co-op student. Being able to tell your supervisor you are overwhelmed or have too much on your plate goes back to what is in your capacity and being able to be open with one another.”

- Angelica Sanchez, 4B, Honours English RMPC (Rhetoric, Media, and Professional Communication)

It’s extremely important to learn how to balance your time management and prioritize your mental health to avoid feeling burnout. Giving yourself the necessary time to recharge and then be able to complete tasks is also something that is valuable to include in your routine. Laura and Angelica highlight the benefits setting time-limits for yourself that will help you in the long run. Setting your own boundaries during your work term can be a challenge but it can be helpful to have an open discussion with your supervisor(s) about your wellness needs.

What are some ways/resources that have helped you manage your schedule? What has helped you stay motivated?

Some things that have helped me manage my schedule are actually taking time management courses on Linkedin Learning. Through the courses I’ve taken I have learned new skills that I can use to help with not only my time management, but project turnaround time, organization, thoughtfulness, and communication skills as well. I’m glad to have found these resources; I never knew about Linkedin Learning before my co-op. Some ways that I have improved my time management are:

  • Creating lists of to-do’s
  • Blocking off time in my Outlook calendar for specific things I need to get done
  • Filling in my physical calendar above my desk so at a glance I can see what is due that day and in the upcoming days
  • Keeping up with everything that is going on (whether it be in CEE or for my LEARN course)

Definitely keeping on a schedule has helped me stay motivated, so I know what I have to do and when I have to do it. But, I also know when I have down time. I am  a huge procrastinator, so keeping a schedule is very important to me. I also like to get ample outside time, this keeps me feeling less anxious and more willing to do work. I figured out through quarantine that if I don’t go outside I get very restless and can’t focus on work.”

 - Alicia Casaccia, 2B, Honours Sociology 

Finding resources that work for you is great, especially at the University of Waterloo, because the staff are dedicated to supporting you through your academic career. One thing we both have learned throughout our time as students is that it’s okay to reach out and ask for help when you need it . Furthermore, keeping organized and making lists can also help prevent being overwhelmed, by doing tasks a little at a time.


Be sure to check out Monday’s blog post!