Ask a counsellor-I can’t work!

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I’m trying to get my work done, but my brother/partner/parent/dog keeps bothering me! What can I do?

Typically, when this comes up, there are two issues at hand. The first is around your work and study habits; you need to be in a “work-friendly” environment. This means that you are in a room or area with lots of light, away from your bedroom, distanced from unwelcome noise, and, unless you are doing group work, alone. Keep in mind that being alone includes not being on Facebook or other distracting instant messaging forums. Many students find it helps to set specific schedules and hours for studying and academic work. If you choose to do this, make sure that you hold yourself to those hours, even when your workload is light. Above all else, remember to share your schedule with close people in your life, so that they can help in keeping those hours free from distraction!

The other issue is your loved one, and how to tell them to basically bug off, while at the same time ensuring that they will still want to talk to/be with/hug/lick you in the future. Assertive communication is the key. Start with acknowledging how your loved one is feeling, (“Gee, Rover, it looks like you’re really excited to be humping my leg”). Follow that with addressing your own needs, (“I really need some time on my own to finish this assignment right now”). Finally, propose an alternative solution, (“Here, hump this stuffy for the next little bit, and then my leg will be all yours”). Try to be as clear and concise as possible; if more time is needed to discuss the scenario, make some time to talk with your loved one later.

As per usual, feel free to talk with a counsellor about any issues you may have! If you have a question for a counsellor, you can also e-mail it to, and see it featured here!


Emily is in her fourth year of Political Science. She loves studying and academics which follows into her research work. She's a stern black coffee drinker and is a proud Acadienne. When she's not working or doing school work, you can find Emily listening to 70s music on vinyl and watching Parks and Recreation. If you ask her about parliamentary institutions, she won't stop talking.