Dear Barb – Going Back to School

Dear Barb:

I work full-time and I am the mother of three young girls. I plan to cut down my hours and return to university. My husband is very supportive, but I’m still wondering if I’ll be able to manage everything. My plan is to get my degree through Athabasca University’s distance education. I’m hoping to be able to do this without my family having to suffer. However I’m not the most organized person. I really need some time management tips. Can you help? Thanks

Emma in Newmarket

Congratulations Emma for making the decision to follow your dream. It will be a challenge, but with the right mindset and determination I’m sure you will be successful.

Choosing Athabasca University is a step in the right direction. Your circumstances make you an excellent candidate for distance education because of the flexibility it provides. By becoming a student at AU, you will have access to a wealth of resources. Check out “Counselling Services for Students” on AU’s Website. You will find free publications that you can request which include “Improve Your Study Skills” and ” Mastering Exam Anxiety.” You will find additional resources at:

Following are some general suggestions for managing your time:

Make lists, don’t rely on memory. When we have a zillion things to do, it’s very easy to forget something. Make “to do” lists for today, tomorrow, next week, even next year. Then refine your lists. Choose your priorities and rewrite your lists accordingly. Most likely you will not get everything done, but by prioritizing, you will at least have completed some of the most important tasks.

Next, take the time to plan your day. For example if you are going to drop your children off at school in the morning, check your list. Is there anything you have to pick up or do that is near the school? Planning to do these things at the same time will save you another trip and, considering rising gas prices, save money.

An invaluable aspect of effective time management is remembering that it is okay to say no. You will not be able to accomplish what you have to if you are always doing for others. You may have to say no to your sister about babysitting or running an errand. Even though you are saying no, you must be considerate of other people’s feelings. Reschedule activities with friends and family to a more opportune time.

Most importantly, take time to reflect on whether you are accomplishing what you set out to. Are you still taking time for yourself and your family? If you are not achieving the results you expected, perhaps you need to take a step back and reassess your “to do lists.”

Finally, Emma, always remember what is truly important in life and balance your goals accordingly.