Many factors can affect your ability to reconcile all the elements of your personal life with your studies. Because life is stressful enough as it is, we’ve come up with some strategies to help you not do more, but feel better, despite everything you’ve got to do! You’ll potentially find benefits such as better concentration, reduced stress, and increased well-being.

Does time management make us more efficient or happier?

According to a meta-analysis of the literature on time management, it has only a moderate impact on performance. Instead, the researchers found a strong link between time management and well-being. This is explained by the fact that time management enables people to organize their daily lives according to their values, beliefs, and provides a sense of personal fulfillment.

TIME MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES

Identify your time “SNATCHERS”

Time snatchers come in the form of requests or demands that don’t align with your priorities and deadlines. Of course, you don’t have to be perfect in managing your time, but taking the time to identify your time snatchers, or being aware of them, is a good first step.  Here are some “snatchers” that can absorb a lot of time and energy in a day.

  • Changing your mind frequently about your initial priorities and objectives.
  • Poorly managed conflicts that persist over time.
  • Lack of order and organization.
  • Incorrect time estimate it takes you to fulfill a task.
  • Perfectionism and unrealistic expectations.
  • Constantly putting things off.

LearnING to prioritize

When you’re studying, it’s normal to be faced with a lot of questions about what’s important to you and where to put your priorities. But one thing is certain: there will always be only 24 hours in a day.

  1. Prioritize your basic energy needs: lifestyle, sleep and diet.
  2. Use planning tools (diary, calendar, lists) and, if necessary, review your deadlines.
  3. Plan your tasks: numbering, segmenting, hardest tasks first.
  4. Learn to say no or to postpone without feeling obliged to justify yourself.

Planning for the unexpected

Many unexpected situations and events can disrupt your schedule and time management when you least expect it, and that’s stressful! While you can’t predict “when” the unexpected will happen, you can be pretty sure that it will. So, it’s best not to overload your schedule and, if you can, set aside one or two periods in your week to deal with the unexpected. Imagine the time you’ll be able to recuperate in weeks when everything runs like clockwork!

Balancing school and family

Studying or going back to school as a parent is a decision that requires rigorous time planning. There are many unforeseen events and daily challenges, not to mention the associated financial stress.

One strategy would be to inform your teachers, internship supervisors or teamwork colleagues of your situation as soon as possible. This will help them understand if there are any unforeseen circumstances. If possible, you can also consider the following strategies.

  • Choose your courses according to your family’s schedule
  • Aim for weekly rather than daily planning
  • Have a plan B for childcare in case of unforeseen circumstances
  • Plan a budget and call on available resources for help
  • Find out if your school has any policies, accommodations, or services specifically for student parents

You can also watch these two stories, in which Cassandra and Catherine talk openly about their experiences with mental health during their studies.

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References

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Université TELUQ. 3 trucs essentiels pour gérer son temps

Aeon et al. (2021) Does time management work? A meta-analysis

Université du Québec à Montréal . La gestion du temps

Credits

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Illustration : Mario Fontaine

Contribution to the article : Isabelle Queval, psychologist

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