Health and Fitness Blog: Balancing work and studies

For many students, going to university means living away from home for the first time. With that comes a truckload of adult responsibilities, like paying bills, which can be overwhelming on top of a university course load.

For about 50 per cent of Canadian students, working a part-time job during school is necessary to make ends meet. But, maintaining a healthy balance between school, work, and extracurriculars, while still having a social life, can be tough. Here are a few tips so you don’t get too overwhelmed and stressed out.

Manage your time

Time management is an important part of a work/school balance, and is a great skill to develop for adult life in general.

If you’re a student juggling part-time work and a full course-load at school, odds are you don’t have a whole lot of spare time. But there are lots of little ways you can use your time more effectively and get more done in a day.

For example, instead of just putting in your headphones and staring out the window, do your readings on the bus ride to or from work or school. You’re not doing anything during that time anyway, so you might as well learn something.


Something I find helpful is making a list of assignments or tasks I need to accomplish, and then organizing it in order of urgency or importance (if you’re a real freak you can even colour-code this list by class, like I do). So if you have a week to do a reading but an assignment due in two days, do the assignment first.

Get a planner, agenda or calendar

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably completely forgotten to do an assignment at least once. Having a place to write down deadlines is an important part of making sure you meet those deadlines.

Because my memory is garbage, I also find it helpful to put a bunch of alarms and reminders in my phone to help me remember assignment deadlines, tests and other important dates.

Don’t want to spend money on a planner that you’re not sure you’ll use? Keep an eye out for all the free stuff available during frosh week. The Rideau River Residence Association and the Carleton University Students’ Association usually have free agendas and notebooks available in their offices (did I mention that they’re free?).

Ask for help

If you’re feeling totally overwhelmed by your job and your courses, odds are your grades are going to be affected. So if you’re struggling academically, just talk to your professors! Most of them are human beings who understand what you’re going through and will help you out.

Say ‘no’

Maybe sometimes you’re just too busy with school to cover someone’s shift or go to that sports game. Maybe you don’t want to go to that frat party, and that’s fine. Sometimes you need to take time for yourself and recharge.

Take time for you

Self-care is important, but healthy self-care is even more important.

As good as it might feel to stay in bed all day or eat an entire pack of Oreos as a meal or drink your sorrows away at Ollie’s, there are so many other forms of self-care that are not destructive to your body and mind.

Go for a walk or run or bike ride, and just do something that gets you outside. Studies have shown that going outside can improve your mental health, boost your immune system, restore mental energy and reduce stress.

Get a good night’s sleep. Spend time with people you love. Spend some time with yourself. Drink good coffee. Eat good food. Listen to music that makes you happy. Do yoga. Call your mom. Drink water. Meditate. Jam out. Have a nap.

Photo by Angela Tilley