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Don’t wait until your senior year to master the art of balancing your schedule.

How Busy Is Too Busy?

Time Management 101

Don’t wait until your senior year to master the art of balancing your schedule.

By Lindsey Davis, Iowa State University


For some reason, American culture encourages bragging about how busy you are.

The more you have going on in your life, the more admirable you think you appear to others. In fact, it almost seems as if having less leisure time gives you a higher social status.

Why is this? Aren’t Americans, and people in general, supposed to value their free time? Shouldn’t having more occasions to pack up and vacation be seen as a symbol of status, as opposed to being so booked up you don’t even have a chance to visit your grandparents ten miles away?

I’m not so sure I’m one to talk about this topic at the moment, seeing as my planner is scribbled all over, and I can’t seem to say no to any opportunity that arises. Yet, for me, I’m not creating a never ending to-do list only to brag; I just want to be involved with as much as I can and gain valuable skills for my future before I graduate. At this point in my life, I’m not trying to be super busy just so I can go home late at night and brag to my roommates about how exhausting my schedule is. Maybe in the future when I have a real career and prestigious colleagues to impress, the situation will be different.

How Busy Is Too Busy?
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But, I digress. I’m here to talk about how busy is too busy, specifically for college students.

Let me start by saying, just like your mom keeps telling you, it’s absolutely crucial to involve yourself with clubs and organizations while in college. Whether it be related to your major, or something you simply do for pleasure, get involved. For most, your college years only happen once, and it would be a shame to waste those precious four (or two or six) years of higher education hiding in your dorm playing Xbox or binge-watching “Glee” all alone.

If you’re currently not involved with any campus activity, it would be a good idea to start with joining one club that would be helpful to your future career and one organization that would allow you to have fun and socialize with others. If you already belong to a group or two, consider how important they are to you and if you have time to add any others.

How Busy Is Too Busy?
Image via Berkeley

The key is to make sure you’re not overworking yourself. Do you have time at the end of the day to go on an ice cream run with your roommates? Are you able to catch a movie last minute with your significant other? If you’re so busy that doing random, fun college things (e.g. late night trips to Taco Bell, rollerblading through campus) on any given night or weekend is completely out of the question, you need to rethink your priorities.

Sure, college is about studying hard and building a stellar resume, but it’s also about—wait for it—making memories. Are you really going to look back on your post high school years and think of all the good times you had rushing from one meeting to another? Maybe, but I doubt it. You’ll want to reflect on these times as ones that helped you grow as an individual, but also as ones that made you feel alive.

If I’m coming off as cheesy and sappy, it’s because I already feel nostalgic for college even though I have eight or so months left of it.

I wish I had listened to my own advice well before I became a senior. When I started college as a freshman, I got involved with one church activity, but that was it. Sophomore year, I didn’t even do the church group anymore, I only worked. During my time as a junior, I started to work even longer hours and made no attempt to join any sort of club, until late in spring semester when I finally realized how much damage I was doing to myself by being a dud. I had made work my priority, even though the job did nothing to help me gain skills as a budding journalist.

I’m not sure if I finally kicked my butt into gear because the reality of graduation set in, or if it’s because I changed my major last semester to a field I’m actually excited to be in. Maybe I keep adding to my list of activities because I’m making up for lost time, but regardless, my schedule is packed this semester. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

You know why? It’s because over the course of the last three years, I’ve learned the necessary skill of time management. Yes, I’m very busy, but I can also go out to the bars with my friends on the weekends. I can make time on the weeknights to have dinner with my boyfriend.

I’m building my portfolio, but also having the best time of my life.

I encourage all of my fellow collegiate peers to be as busy as they can, or want, to be. But I definitely don’t encourage being so busy that you miss out on crucial college memories. Don’t get me wrong, being a part of different organizations has allowed me to meet so many new people, and some of my fondest memories have stemmed from these activities. Club activities are sometimes the most fun and will help fulfill a vital social life. Just don’t forget to keep plenty of open slots in your schedule to spend time with the people who mean the most to you and who will help you gain those oh-so-special memories.

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