As some of you know, I am a busy bee constantly and I have a ton of commitments. Since high school, I’ve always been very involved in extracurriculars and club activities. College is no different: I think I’m a part of five organizations?
Everyone tells you how important it is to get involved; from sayings like “You’ll meet your best friends in clubs!” to “Colleges love it when you’re a part of XYZ!” it can be very tempting to just join… everything. Colleges often have way too many clubs and organizations to join and, when you’re interested in everything, you may find yourself signing up for, well, everything.
It can get very overwhelming, really quickly. When events and requirements just start piling up, I often feel like I’m being buried by everything I have going on. (I think I average eight good cries a week over how stressed I am.) But, even though it can be very difficult, it’s absolutely doable.
Only do the things you really love. (Or really have to do.)
You should only really be part of organizations you really care about. Like really care about. But sometimes we find ourselves joining clubs that we don’t really care about. Maybe a friend wanted to join and you promised to tag along to the meeting. Or, you’re part of something because it looks good on a resume. Whatever your reason is, consider cutting some commitments out of your life if they don’t really interest you.
How to figure out which commitment you’re actually a part of:
- List your commitments. Anything that regularly takes up your time should be evaluated, be it a job, regular volunteering, or an organization you’re a part of.
- Find out which commitment is 100% necessary. You can’t just quit a job, for example. That’s a necessary time commitment if you need the money. Mark these commitments on your list as a priority; they must be scheduled first.
- Figure out a few reasons (maybe three or four) why you’re in the organization in the first place. Be honest; write about why you first joined (get rid of clubs that you’re only mildly interested in because your best friend is passionate about it!), why you like it, what benefit you’re getting out of it, and anything else that make it worth your time. By doing this, you get to see which time commitments truly reflect your passions and interest and which should go.
- Determine which commitments are worth keeping and which you should get out of.
There are certain organizations that I dread going to. I’ll whine and complain to my friends about a meeting I have to go to or a mandatory event, but I just never quit for some reason? It’s definitely very hard to cut some commitments out of your life, but it’s not impossible. And, it’ll make your life so much easier and enjoyable when you do.
Understand what you can and can handle.
As a kid, all I ever heard was “Don’t bite off more than you can chew.” But I never listened and I ended up with way too much on my plate. (I just want to do everything!)
Some commitments are small and no big deal, but others– like a job or some organizations– take a lot out of your time and efforts. Learn how to balance these time commitments well. I like balancing out all my organizations into piles of “big” commitments and “small” commitments. This lets me see what is and isn’t too much for me to handle.
Remember that you still need time to:
- Relax and unwind by yourself.
- Hang out with your friends outside of an organization.
- Study. I can’t tell you how often I’m too busy to study; don’t do that to yourself!
- Do leisurely activities.
- Eat! This is a biggie, don’t schedule your commitments so you never have a break to grab some food. And not a quick snack either; at least one “real” meal a day.
Know your limits, it’s the best way to make sure you can still do all the things you want without stressing out too much.
Keep a calendar.
Every club has meetings, it’s just a part of life. But spare yourself the trouble and don’t join two organizations that meet on the same day. That’s just a recipe for disaster right there. (Been there, done that. Apparently, Wednesdays are popular days for meetings.)
Keep a calendar to make sure that all your events and meetings don’t fall on the same day! It’s also a great way to make sure you don’t miss anything important. Because I’m in so many things, it’s really easy to miss a social event or a meeting: it happens to everyone. I’m big on writing things down, so I love using planners, calendars, and my bullet journal to make sure I remember every meeting.
But if you’re more of an on-the-go person, check out some apps that allow you to schedule events and organize your commitments better. I’ve listed some that I’ve used and liked in the past (until I found out I’m more of a pen and paper kind of gal).
Some awesome (and free!) planning/scheduling apps:
- Pocket Schedule
- Schedule Planner
- Cozi Family Organize
- Tiny Calendar
Carry a binder/notebooks specifically for your commitments.
I get a lot of papers from the organizations I’m in, along with a lot of information. From training manuals to informative flyers, I used to throw them all away (and realize that I actually needed to save them) or leave them scattered all over my room.
To make sure I don’t lose something important, I compile all those handouts and information into one binder that holds everything for all the organizations I’m a part of. It’s easy to forget uniform code or the emails and phone numbers of the executive board if everything you do is all over the place.
(This also keeps my desk more organized! It’s a win win!)
Talk to someone if you’re having trouble managing.
It can be overwhelming. Sometimes, too overwhelming. And it can also be difficult to reach out and admit how hard this all is for you. It was for me, at least. Reach out to your supervisor, director, president, or executive board and tell them if you’re having difficulties. Chances are, they’ve been exactly where you are right now and can tell you how they managed everything.
It’s very unlikely that they’ll kick you out or force you to drop or anything. Most likely, they’ll be very helpful and supportive towards your situation and decisions.
Another great resource if you’re ever feeling overwhelmed is your school adviser or counseling center. I’ve become a huge proponent of letting others help you through your struggles lately, no matter how small or trivial they seem. An adviser can probably help you realize what extracurriculars are worth staying in (I almost gave up a pre-med club, but was talked out of it after my adviser made me realize how many opportunities it can bring me!) and what you should cut.
But, most of all, feel free to come talk to me about your issues! As your friendly neighborhood Hot Mess, I’ve been there– trust me– and I survived.
How are you managing all your commitments?
It’s a hard life for all of us over-involved college students. We’re always told to join organizations and find our passions, but that usually translates into getting involved in everything and ending up with a too hectic schedule. If you’re over-involved like I am, how are you managing everything on your plate?