To me and a lot of other people I know, extracurricular activities seem to be like potato chips: you can never have just one. When I was in high school, I was involved in a lot of different clubs, a sport, and honor society at my school. During my first semester of college, I did the same thing. I quickly involved myself with four clubs, became a pledge in a co-ed fraternity, took a volunteer opportunity and signed up to do this, along with my fifteen credit course load. Although I was happy to be involved on campus, I soon realized I was getting worn out by my busy schedule. I also couldn’t fully commit myself to some of the activities. The last straw was when I got sick and had to miss a day of class. I didn’t want to overwhelm myself and risk my health, or my grades so I set up rules for myself so I wouldn’t get overwhelmed.
1. Set Priorities
I made a list of everything I was involved in or giving time to and ranked them by importance. First came my health, of course, second came my coursework and third my work-study. My volunteer opportunity is also very important to me because it helps me gain experience in my aspiring career field. I make time for these things first, even if it means missing a meeting or outing with one of my clubs. For example, if I have an optional fellowship event going on in my fraternity one evening, but I also have a test the next day, I will stay in my dorm to study.
2. Set Commitments
I found myself getting involved with so much stuff at the beginning of my semester, but I wasn’t able to focus on any them to the extent I would have liked. I didn’t want to be in a bunch of clubs but not be doing anything in them. I decided to compare my clubs and the time they all required to be effectively a part of. I decided to drop out of one of my clubs because I knew I wouldn’t have the time or energy to be an effective member. It was the right decision for me. On the other hand, I am very involved with the clubs I am in and making a big impact on my campus and my peers.
3. Set Boundaries
I always remind myself that I don’t need to do everything, even in the clubs I am committed to. I don’t need to volunteer myself for every task that is going on, especially on an already busy week. I love helping others, but I remind myself it’s okay to say no. For example, I was going to help with a bake sale one of my clubs was having, but I was very tired and mentally not feeling well. I told them that I couldn’t work at the table that day, which wasn’t a problem because there were already a bunch of people working it.
I set limits for myself on how long I can spend on a project for a club and how much energy I put into worrying about it. I do this to make sure I don’t get too distracted from my coursework, which as I stated before, is my second top priority. Making sure I am focusing my energy on my priority makes me feel better, and that way I don’t feel like I didn’t study enough for a test or work well enough on a project. Setting limits also helps me to not get too stressed out about a club project, which is especially important when working in a group.
So now that I have set up these rules in my life my semester is going much more smoothly and I am a lot less overwhelmed. I hope these help. Thanks for reading.
Do you find yourself taking on too many activities? What signs of burning out do you look out for? How do you say no and set boundaries for yourself in the things you do for school, work, and other extracurricular activities?