In college it’s rare to not be busy - busy studying, busy working, busy attending class. We’re all so busy I bet most of us don’t even notice how busy our classmates are! Busy isn’t necessarily bad, it’s good to be productive and involved; but too busy means you’re overcommitted, neglecting important priorities, and constantly feeling exasperation and anxiety.
One of the ironies of being too busy is wanting to cut back and change, but not having the time to figure out how to do it! I want to help you avoid ending up a frazzled mess by Thanksgiving break, by giving you a check-list of 5 signs you’re too busy. Do any of these signs fit you? If so, make the necessary changes now!
1) You Spend A Lot of Time Worrying About Your Time.
Do you find yourself endlessly cycling through your to-do list in your head, arranging and rearranging your schedule, or wishing throughout the day that you had more time? Try this: Take a mental break. Remove one thing from your schedule for today that is the least important—it might be putting off doing the laundry or postponing watching a TV show, and instead do nothing! Just lay down and listen to a favorite song or take a bath. Disconnect from “timing” your life for at least an hour.
2) Spontaneity? What’s that?
The movie “Yes Man” comes to mind when I think about this sign; you used to say yes to a impromptu fun event or get together with friends, but now the idea just seems ridiculous. Spontaneity fills your head with anxiety about trying to schedule one more thing into your day. While there’s definitely a limit to being able to handle surprises in your routine, some amount of spontaneity is important to add spice to your life.
3) You’re Sleep-Deprived and You Know It.
Do you find yourself dozing off in class, at work or at the wheel of your car? Do you oversleep on weekends to make up for weekday deficits? Time to hit the brakes! Skipping the recommended 7-8 hours a night may seem like an easy way to gain extra time in your day, but you’re actually cutting into precious time for our bodies to repair and restore. Getting good sleep improves memory, boosts your ability to empathize with others, and heightens your problem-solving skills by two-fold. Try making sleep your #1 priority; schedule your bedtime (like you do everything else) and guard that appointment fiercely! When time’s up, time’s up! Hit the sack.
4) You’re Ecstatic for Cancellations.
Ok, so it’s definitely not unnatural to be a little excited about a class getting canceled or having a paper deadline pushed back. They key here is to think about how you plan to use that extra time as soon as you discover a cancelation. You immediately think, “Cool I can call __ and catch up on their weekend away.” This response is positive and relaxed, and fills the free time with a meaningful activity. Here’s scenario #2: You immediately think something like: “Great, now I can edit that paper… finish that homework…email my professor… If your mind immediately floods with a whole new overwhelming to-do list then you’re overbooked! I know it’s difficult to actively cancel things yourself, but try this: take your schedule for the next two weeks and cut at least three appointments each week. Be ruthless. See how those weeks feel as you live them out with more breathing room.
5) Can’t Remember Last Time You “Took Time For Yourself”
A schedule without joy is a joyless schedule! We all have something we love to do, maybe its painting, or playing video games, or hunting. It’s easy to bench these activities from our schedule’s starting lineup because they’re “frivolous,” but making time for these “time indulgences” is very important because they nourish us, get us to slow down, and help us actually enjoy life! Write down a list of activities - be specific about where you want to go, what you want to do, and who you want to do it with. Now, pick at least one activity to do each week for the next few weeks. I promise you’ll find more joy in life and less stress!
If you start to hear a lot of off-hand comments or complaints along the lines of: “You’re so busy,” or “You’re wearing yourself thin,” or “I never see you anymore,” it’s one of the surest signs that your time needs an overhaul. You are no help to anyone else and no fun to be around if you’re a frazzled, stressed out mess! Thanksgiving break is coming up and I urge you to take a real break. You’re doing fine kid :)