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Take Time to Make Time! The Life of a Very Busy Student

By Jessica MacNaught, 3rd year Con-Ed Linguistics/French students

My favourite part about Queen’s is how many opportunities there are to get involved. With all of the different organizations on (and off) campus, you’re sure to find something to pour your heart and soul into – and I’ve found so many different groups that call to me!

The small problem with this is that with so many ways to get involved, it’s really easy to over-commit. Sometimes, between classes, clubs, and committees, I find myself a lot busier for a lot longer than I ever thought  I would be. After a 15-hour day on campus without touching any of my homework, I realized that I was spending a lot less time on school than I need to. Whether you are involved in one extracurricular or five, it’s all about balance – you need to find a way to make time for school, and, most importantly, for yourself.

Here are some tips and tricks that I use to find extra time!

Believe it or not, investing a little time to make yourself a schedule will actually save you time in the long run. Using a weekly schedule – whether it is digital, on a calendar on your wall, or in a planner – is a great way to budget your time and see where you have some free time to work, play, or rest. The weekly schedule template provided by Student Academic Success Services, which can be found here, is a great way to get started! I like that it is separated into half-hour blocks, so it is easy to divide time down to small chunks. The half-hour blocks also fit perfectly into how classes at Queen’s are scheduled. To make your weekly schedule, add in all of your fixed commitments – classes, homework, volunteer time, and extracurriculars – as well as the time you take each week to be active and take care of yourself (ie, cook, eat, and clean). You can also add in a goal for when you want to sleep and wake up, because sleep is so important! After you do this, you can see a visual representation of your free time in all of the blank parts. This is your flex time – time to devote to studying, socializing, or just relaxing. A weekly schedule also means no surprises – when a new activity comes up, add it in right away so you are prepared!

Another way to make time for yourself is to use “flex time” for doing work. Flex time is free time that comes up unexpectedly, for example, time spent riding on the train or time that you gain when your class is canceled. Using this unexpected free time to be productive saves you time to relax or catch up on work during your usual free time.

Another way that I save time is through meal prepping. While this isn’t an academic tip, I find it super helpful to not have to worry about cooking dinner on those nights I get home late from meetings, or spending money to grab a quick lunch on campus. A great way to meal prep is using a one-pan meal, like this one from Buzzfeed. You can add any type of sauce or seasoning to jazz up the chicken, and sub in or out any veggies you like! Adding a grain or starch like rice or quinoa helps to stretch this meal out even farther. You can easily pack it for lunch, too! Just portion it out into a Tupperware container after cooking, and throw it into your bag to eat for lunch!

Something that really helped me put my time use into perspective is this handy sheet from SASS. This time use chart helps you to count out how much time you are using towards a specific task, whether it’s socializing with friends or working at your part-time job. At the end of the sheet, tally up your hours. There are 168 hours in a week, and I was surprised to see how I was spending them – maybe you will be too! This sheet helps you to prioritize the time you spend.

After all, just remember: you have the same 168 hours a week as Beyoncé. It’s how you use them that matters!


Photo courtesy of electrictuesday under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license 2.0.