Balancing act: How to ride the waves of fun, work and academic success

University students are rarely ever just students. Most of them are also part-time workers, avid volunteers, social butterflies - the list goes on. Finding the right balance to manage all these roles seems to be one of the biggest challenges that students tend to face.

Me trying to excel meme

I had the opportunity to speak with UWaterloo’s staff success coach, Nasim Shojayi, to get her expert advice on how you can disentangle the chaos of everyday life and finally find your centre. Here are four tips on how to find the right balance in your life!

Manage your time

Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Thus, one of the most useful skills that anybody can have is time-management. The ability to plan ahead and organize accordingly is imperative for success.

Nasim encourages everyone to keep a scheduling tool. Create a “term at a glance” calendar in which you lay out your entire 4-month term. This will give you a visual overview of everything you plan to accomplish. Drawing out a schedule is where the balance begins! After all, you can’t get to your destination without looking at a map.

Prioritize competing tasks

When creating your schedule, it is important to class things based on high-to-low priority. This will help you remain engaged and focused on your end-goals. Identify what your fixed duties are – this may include your classes, shifts at work, due dates, or maybe even that family BBQ you were looking forward to. Once you identify what’s fixed, work around those times/dates to identify the things you’d like to make time for!

 Urgency time management chart

Take care of yourself

With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it becomes increasingly easy to forget the most important priority of all – you! Remember to prioritize things that make you feel good. Don’t forget the basics: sleeping, eating well, exercising - these are all fundamental for you to perform well and maintain concentration, which is key for your academics and mental health. Don’t be afraid to give yourself empty blocks in your calendar for some “me time.” Put yourself first!

And now i'll do what's best for me  Seek support

Trying to juggle so many things at once can certainly be a struggle and the University of Waterloo offers a ton of support for anybody looking for advice and stress-relief. For instance, the Student Success Office offers free peer success coaching, our campus provides many recreational programs such as Move Your Mind, and Campus Wellness also provides great advice on everything from nutritional to sleep advice, just to name a few.

Ultimately, the struggle to balance the surfboard of your life on a wave of responsibilities is as necessary as it is difficult. After all, have you ever tried surfing without keeping your balance? We need this skill to stay afloat, both literally and metaphorically. Use these tips to help you structure your life and find your centre! 

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