By PLA Peter
Too often do I find myself in positions where I am spread too thin… And I mean WAY too thin. For example, here is what my last Monday originally looked like prior to making extra commitments:
02:00-03:00 Hot Yoga Class
05:00-09:00 Study for Midterm in 2 days
And this is what it looked like when I decided to stop breathing and please everyone in my life:
09:00-10:00 Breakfast/Coffee date with friend
10:00-11:30 Training a new volunteer at the hospital
02:00-03:00 Hot Yoga Class
03:30-09:30 Shifted to work at Part-time job
09:30-10:15 Group project meeting at Stauffer Library
10:15-12:00 Study for Midterm in 2 days
12:30 Get in bed ASAP!
So, where did all my time go? Does this ever happen to you? Do you ever feeling like you don’t have room to breathe? I know I do! And to be honest, I really don’t have anyone to blame except myself. Too frequently I’m trying to please person A without letting down person B. And above all, I cannot disappoint person X, which is typically myself.
The issue is that we often take our time for granted. We think we have loads to spare and that we can “dish” it out as we please. However, it’s a fact that there will always and only be 24 hours in a day, and a good chunk of it is/should be devoted to sleep.
It took me a very long time before I came to 3 “realizations” when it comes time to… Ummmm… Well… Basically finding more time, especially when final exams and assignments are creeping up on me:
1. Using my agenda and planning ahead
I generally think I am a very organized person. I like to know what I’d like to do and accomplish each day. However, my strength quickly becomes a weakness when I’m overwhelmed and “attacked” from every direction. I start making promises to have things done and be at certain places at certain times, when in my head, everything is just a jumbled mess and I don’t really know whether or not I have time to fulfil these promises… Which is why I HIGHLY recommend getting yourselves a good and reliable agenda! It will save you like it saved me!
My agenda helped me figure out when I was actually available, when I had deadlines coming up, and when I could commit myself to the extra “little things,” such as a random party here and an extra shift at work there. It’s honestly better to prolong a long-due coffee date than it is to cancel the night before.
And one final plug about agendas: if you got it, use it! Having an agenda doesn’t help you in anyway if you leave it buried at the bottom of your backpack. So, make an effort and habit to fill it out. You’ll thank yourself later!
2. Learn to say NO
Sometimes, you just have to learn to say ‘no.” Why I say this is because I’ve realized how frequently I get distracted while working, not only by others but by myself. For example, when I’m writing a lab report on my laptop, I can’t help but log onto Facebook every 10 minutes or so to see what’s going down on the online “hood.” By no means do I discourage taking breaks, maybe for 10 minutes after every 50 minutes of solid work (i.e. 50/10 rule), but when I take a break every 10 minutes, I break my train of thought and find myself having to get into the mindset of my work again, which typically brings me back to square one. I end up getting very little done in a day and feeling stressed.
I know it can be hard when your friend comes rushing to your door to chat about the latest showbiz news, or to turn the WiFi off on your laptop when the entire world is only a click away, but you just got to learn to say: “Sorry, I’m busy right now. I will catch up with you later.” You’ll end up getting a lot more done and having more time to rest and relax!
3. Ask for help
I don’t only mean asking your classmates and friends for help, but I mean asking your profs and TAs as well! They are a resource and they’re ready to help you! Make use of them! I know they seem intimidating at first, but if you start talking to them, you’ll come to realize that they’re just like you and me; they also take showers and sleep at night! It’s hard to believe, right?
Too often do I hear about prof’s lonesome-ly sitting around waiting for students to stop by during their office hours. Their enlightening words, however, may help/save you from hours of trouble trying to solve what appeared to be a daunting physics question in less than 2 minutes!
So, ask your questions, raise your concerns, and when worst comes to worst and you feel like there’s no way you can hand in your assignment on time, ask for that extension! I felt rather guilty the first time I ever asked for an extension in my life, which was for my 4th year research proposal. To my surprise, my prof was completely okay with it. It actually worked out better in her schedule that I presented a week later.
All in all, when you feel overwhelmed and stressed for time, don’t be afraid to pull out your agenda, say no to distractions, and ask your TA’s and professors for help. Again, there are only 24 hours in a day. Let’s make the most of them without going bald!