Finding time for school and life during COVID

The world has thrown us a curve ball with the pandemic. Here are my three tips for making sure you can balance school, work, and life during these weird times.

Person in hourglass Photo:

With no strict class or tutorial schedule to follow, it can be all too easy to fall into the endless Netflix spiral we all know and love, and end up wasting a lot of time. Once things started to open up here in Halifax, I got a job and began taking some summer classes, but I immediately was falling behind because I’d been “on vacation” for two months and out of practice! In order to get back on track, I came up with a 3-step system to help me tackle work, school, personal goals, and a (COVID-friendly) social life. I sincerely hope it helps you handle the beast that is university during a pandemic.


1. Make a list of your top priorities this term or school year. These could be work-related, school-related or personal goals! Here’s an example of my list:

  • Get at least a B+ in all summer courses
  • Start studying for the MCATS
  • Learn more about XX topic at work
  • Go running three times a week


2. Once you have your priority list, organize all the things that are set in stone—those things that need to get done by a deadline. Again, here’s an example of what I set out to do within the first week of classes:

  • Grab my class schedule and put this information into an editable calendar (e.g., Outlook) or a paper or erasable calendar (I buy these in the Dal Bookstore)
  • Review each class’s syllabus and write down when everything is due this term
  • Mark down any work shifts currently scheduled
  • Mark down all personal appointments (because you can’t miss those either!)


3. Create a plan to get work done. Remember, you’re planning for a month so don’t overschedule any day if it’s not needed. Mental health is the name of the game during quarantine, folks. Here are my tips for making a plan:

  • Take time to think through how much time each project/assignment needs to be done properly
  • Block off time in your calendar to get these things done, here’s an example:
    • Work on assignment three today (2 hours)
    • Work on midterm prep (1 hour)


Take into account when you are most productive! I’m most productive between 8am and 2pm, so I schedule my “heavy hitter” items during that time and saving things on my previous list like running, for later in the afternoon when I might need a break from work.

Commit to your schedule but make adjustments if you need to!

If, at this point, you’re looking at your proposed schedule and thinking, “this is way too much,” take a second to breathe. Are you just nervous? Have faith in yourself—you can do this. Are you signing yourself up for a workload that requires you to do work 16 hours a day every day? Talk to an academic advisor, a faculty tutor, your manager, or even your mom to gain insight as to how you can eliminate the stress while achieving everything you want to this year.

Remember, no one wants anyone to burn out. Spending time with your friends (if you can) or family is so important. So, make plans when it makes sense to. If you’ve been working hard all week, plan to do something fun Friday night. Just be realistic as to how much work will need to get done so that you, at the end of the term, feel accomplished, happy, and ready to tackle another semester here at Dal!