First semester reflections

Hello! My name is Shirvin and I am currently a graduate student at for counselling psychology as well as the Clinical Program Manager for an outpatient alcohol treatment program. The past few months has been full of change with added stress and work from starting my Masters program along with more responsbility at work. A question I'm often asked is, "How do you juggle everything?" This is something I'm constantly trying to answer and improve on and I hope to share some of the strategies I've learned.

1. Being busy vs. being productive

Often times, many people will say that they're busy or don't have time for things - but is that actually true? Are they being busy being busy or actually being productive and meaningful with their time? I like to physically write down how many hours I spend on certain tasks every week to get a sense of how I use my time. For instance, I spend approximately 45hrs working, 15hrs on school work, 10hrs commuting, 49hrs sleeping, 7hrs eating, and 5hrs on physical activity each week. So what am I doing with the remaining 37hrs?

When you calculate and actively engage in being meaningful and productive with your time, you'll find that you have a lot more time than you actually thought you did.

2. Writing a to-do list

I started a simple bullet journal this year because it allowed me to practice my brush lettering and customize my agenda based on what I needed. Every month, I create a calendar and I usually have tasks or school assignments that I need to complete for each day. I find that this kept me more accountable and I learned how to be productive with two hours. This was a huge improvement from my undergraduate days because I used to think I needed more than three hours to accomplish any school work and would spend my entire weekend just to work on assignments. Study smarter, not harder!

3. Practicing self-compassion

With the current health news we are facing from the pandemic, many conversations about implementing self-care have been popping up. While self-care is important, I want to bring attention to self-compassion. Self-compassion can be understood as acting the same way you would to a friend who is sufferring but to yourself. To prevent burn out and to ensure I wasn't working all the time (either at my second job or on school work), I "scheduled" in time to watch Netflix, play games, or to hang out with friends. By doing so, I didn't feel guilty that I wasn't focused on my work or not doing something "productive." Instead, I watched Netflix meaningfully and graciously accepted the comfort and relaxation it brought me. It's okay to step away from work!

As I step into my next semester in a week. I'm excited to continue learning and growing my skills as a future clinical counsellor. Until then, I hope everyone continues to stay well and to find moments of rest and comfort in the way that best suits you.