If you're anything like me, saying "no" doesn't come too naturally. I like to keep myself busy (as if college isn't busy enough as it is). The truth is, it makes me feel more valuable, useful, worthwhile. Many college students today don't simply attend college and that's it. I, among many people I know, am a full time (18 unit) student with a part time job, an internship, extracurricular activities, and oh yeah, a social life (sometimes). Life can get a little crazy- don't look at my calendar.
Here are five things that have kept me afloat in this crazy season of life. I hope they'll help you!
1. Buy a Planner.
I'm biased when I say this, because I like to be organized, but organization really is a key to success- not just now in college, but in the professional world you're about to enter into. It doesn't have to be a paper planner, but the point is to PLAN. Keep track of when you're in class, when you're at work and when you're at coffee with one friend so you don't continue to double book yourself, losing another friend in the process. Also, HOMEWORK. I would literally forget to turn in everything if I didn't write it down and keep all the due dates organized (and I truly am not a forgetful person!).
2. Set Goals.
I know this probably sounds a little too formal of a to-do item, but setting goals brings clarity and priorities to your assignments (personal, scholastic or professional). I set goals in my job because that's what we're asked to do, and I realized that that should be a normal thing because it clarifies what I need to be focusing on while also reminding me to get it done. Make a list, prioritize it, mark in your planner when you'll do it, and then follow through. It really isn't rocket science (and thank God, because I am no Scientist).
3. Schedule Connection Time with Loved Ones.
Okay, what? Yup. You read that right. Nowadays, I can't tell you how many people my age I come across that NEVER respond to text messages, or are just impossible to hold a conversation with via anything except for face-to-face. Obviously, our technological world of social media is overwhelming us, and we're neglecting the people we love the most. So, I'm serious. I have to set reminders for myself to text a friend, even if it's just to tell them they're awesome. If we happen to schedule coffee while we're at it, double-win! It's not petty. It's not sad. It's reality. And again, it's prioritizing.
Family and friends should be priority, but our too often excuse is "I'm so sorry. Life has just been so busy." What you really mean is that you'd rather spend time on homework, work, and (let's be honest) watching Netflix than cultivating and keeping our friendship healthy? Yikes.
4. GET SLEEP.
I don't know what it is with our age group, the "college kids," and choosing to do literally everything else other than getting a normal amount of sleep each night. I honestly don't even understand it. Maybe I'm just someone who enjoys sleeping, but I have honestly never had to pull an all-nighter of homework (mostly because I know it would be no good), and I hope I never have to. The recommended average night's sleep is between 7 and 8 hours a night, not a week. Use a sleep tracker if you haven't been sleeping well to see how many hours your body needs. I promise, if you sleep through the night on a regular basis, you will be less cranky, more productive, and generally, more happy. And who doesn't want to be happy?!
Don't skip over this final step! I know you probably just scoffed, laughed, turned your head and wanted to click your back button to go back to scrolling social media. This isn't a joke, and as someone who says "YES!" far too often when asked to commit to something, hear me out. This has been something that God and I have been wrestling with for a couple years now, but I'm finally getting the hang of it. Rest comes in a couple different forms. Sometimes Netflix is all you need, and sometimes you need what I call productive rest (doing something you love, pursuing a hobby, going on a walk). Either way, you can't neglect the basic needs of your body, spirit and mind; they need regular rest in order to function properly.
If I had to prioritize, I would say THE most important thing to do while in college, working, maintaining a social life and more, or even just maintaining a busy schedule in general, would be to prioritize. What is most important in your life? I'd bet that your answer probably doesn't receive the most amount of attention and love. Doesn't that seem a little backwards?
Steven Covey, author of many books, my favorite being 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, says "The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities."
I hope you find some space in your life to plan, set goals, love on your loved ones, sleep and rest. No matter what season of "busy" you're in, don't let your life spin out of control. "This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind."