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Managing school, extra-curriculars and life

By Tess Kuhelj, 4th-year Concurrent Education student (French and Geography)

One of the best qualities of Queen’s is the numerous clubs, groups and teams that are available to students. Maybe you’re thinking about what to sign up for next year.

However, if you’re one of those people who loves getting involved, having all those opportunities available to you probably means you’re part of three clubs, six groups, four intramural teams, have a part-time job and taking a full course load. Although you may love everything you’re involved in, sometimes you have to take a step back and prioritize.

Now I’m not saying you should stop getting involved, but the only way to manage all your activities, stay on top of school work and maintain good health is with moderation and excellent planning.

Picking and choosing

Getting involved in extra-curriculars is often the best and most memorable part of people’s university experience because you meet new friends and get exposed to wonderful opportunities. In fact, having commitments other than schoolwork can help your study habits because if you have a meeting or shift that day, you have a time frame for how long you have to complete your homework.

However, this is only applicable if you are in a manageable number of extra-curriculars. My recommendation is to pick only a few extra-curriculars that you are really interested in so that you will still have time for schoolwork and rest.

Each person is different and knows their limit, but I recommend starting with two things (it can be one job and one club, two clubs, one club and one intramural, etc.). If you find that you are managing well with your 2 extra-curriculars and still have a burning passion to join more, go for it!

You can keep doing this with an increasing amount of extra-curriculars as long as make sure you are monitoring how well you are balancing everything and know when enough is enough.

This way, you are choosing the extra-curriculars that mean the most to you and are still giving yourself time for school, “me time” and social commitments.

Making a schedule

Being a master of schedule-making is key when you have a very busy schedule. At the start of each month, input your class times, any static meetings or shifts you have, and your bedtime on your calendar. Then, on a weekly basis you can go in and add any extra meetings, games or shifts as needed.

Make sure you are inputting enough time to complete all your readings and assignments; just because they are not at a concrete time does NOT mean you don’t have to schedule time to do them! Otherwise the time is takes to complete the work will be taken up by something else and you will find yourself needing to pull all-nighters before things are due.

Your schedule will keep you organized and help you remember that you do have enough hours in the day if you use them all properly (or … possibly realize that you are over-booked and should take something off your plate!).

Prioritizing

Even though you may have only picked a few of the activities you are most interested in and have made a killer schedule, it is still important to have priorities.

To do this, write down everything you are a part of and make sure to include school and you-time. Then, starting at “1 – most important”, rank how important each activity is to you (hopefully you-time and school are 1 and 2!) until each extra-curricular is assigned a number.

With this ranking in place, on really busy weeks you’ll know which meetings you may have to miss or shifts you may have to trade. If you find it hard to choose one single activity to always put on the back burner, try switching it up between two or three extra-curriculars so that you’re staying relatively committed to all of them.

Remember, busy is good but too busy is not productive in any way! Hopefully this blog has given you some helpful tips on how to balance school and everything else. Good luck!

Photo courtesy of cea + under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license 2.0.