Thompson Rivers University

Sparkes Notes: When all you’ve got sorted is your laundry

January 24, 2019

Communications Coordinator Co-op Amy Sparkes, a Chilliwack Secondary School grad who dreams of working self-employed as a social media marketer, shares her tips on managing a busy student schedule.

Amy Sparkes is in her third year of her BBA program with a focus in Marketing and Communications, and is currently working as a Communications Coordinator Co-op for the Faculty of Student Development. She is using her experience at TRU to help other students take advantage of everything student life has to offer. 

 “It’s a good week when I get my laundry washed.” This was a common phrase I found myself saying in my first year of university. And now, well into my third year here at TRU, I’m still learning what ‘adulting’ is all about. While living on my own, cooking for myself, and buying my own groceries, those infamous words of mine still slip out all too often. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Three years of practice and I still haven’t perfected managing my busy ‘uni-life’ schedule. But I have learned some tricks that might help you to save some time and skip some steps in your own adjustment to adulthood.

1 – Write down your responsibilities for the day/week. It’s easy to fall behind in your classes and feel overwhelmed by the never ending list of assignments, quizzes, and tests that lie ahead of you. The thought of all the work ahead of me can be enough to make me feel crazy. The endless work load causes my heart to pound so loudly I feel as if my chest might burst, my head to spin so quickly and feel so light it’s as if it might spin right off, the anxiety takes over and it feels like there is nothing I can do to stop it. But there is. It’s all about being proactive, and finding a way to manage your work that works for you. Invest in an agenda, and write everything down. I’ve found that breaking down each task into manageable pieces helps me to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s a great way to see all of your responsibilities laid out in one place and see what to begin working on next. Whether it’s getting an early start on that book report, or studying for a calculus quiz, there’s always something. A well-organized life allows space for socialization and self-care. Knowing my schedule provides a starting point, and highlights the progress I am making along the way.

2 – Create a meal plan for the week. Planning your meals on a weekly basis means that you always have healthy, delicious food on hand. It also helps you avoid that last minute, late night breakdown that usually results in a 2 am call to Dominos for a hot, cheesy, pineapple, mushroom and jalapeño pizza, extra olives (ah, pizza delivery man, no one understands me like you do). At the start of your week, write a meal plan, make a grocery list, and stick to the plan. Purchasing everything you need for the week in one grocery shopping trip will save you time and money, and reduce those last minute Dominos orders and late night drives to McDonalds. A little bit of planning each week can even help you to eat healthier, more balanced meals. My weekly list includes lots of fresh fruit and veggies including big, juicy pink lady apples, lots of sweet potato and crispy red peppers, as well as rice and beans for a great source of protein for those active, busy days, and of course, fresh everything bagels with strawberry cream cheese to start each morning off right.

3 – Give yourself a school free catch up day. It can be easy to get so caught up in the groove of school and feel like it is taking over your life. With some planning and time management, you can clear a day of your week to put away the books, and get caught up on laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning up, and some self-care time. It is important to give yourself a day to relax, give your mind a break from the busy week, and make time for the things that you love to do. This is always my favorite time of the week to get up to the ski hill, go for a hike and take some photos, or anything else that gets me outside and enjoying nature.

4 – Spend time outside. Make a weekly appointment with yourself, and don’t skip or miss that date! It could be a 20-minute walk or run, or 30 minutes of reading in the park, or a day at the ski hill. Being active in the fresh air and sunshine works wonders on a busy stressful lifestyle. The outdoors have a way of forcing you to slow down, be present in the moment, and remember to enjoy the little things. This is also a great time for reflecting on your week and brainstorming the answers to the questions and assignments that you’ve been stuck on.

5 – Find support through The Faculty of Student Development. Don’t let those smiles of social media fool you – every student you know is dealing with adulting dramas and academic anxieties. TRU is here to help with whatever issue you are dealing with. There are many different services offered by our school including, the Wellness Centre for holistic support, the Writing Centre and Math Help Centre for academic support, and so much more. Check out the Faculty of Student Development to see all the other services that are available to help you be your most successful self.

The fast paced life that comes with being a student doesn’t have to be all that hectic. Follow these tips and you’ll find the extra time you need to start each week with a wardrobe full of clean, folded, clothes, fresh bed sheets, and time to spare.

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