Many students are familiar with the feeling of having too many things on their plates. We’re all told to get as involved as we can on campus, to make the most out of our college experiences by contributing to organizations and developing our strengths. This is all fine and good in theory, but when the due dates, meetings and extra hours start consuming our calendars, it can be an overwhelming and frustrating place to be. I have personally struggled with the stresses of holding multiple offices in different clubs and organizations while trying to be an active, contributing member, all while balancing two or three jobs and a heavy course load. I started to fall behind on homework, struggle with meeting deadlines for obligations to my organizations, miss meetings, and ask for time off of work to try and catch up on it all. Not to mention, my personal life was receiving close to no attention and I was unable to find time for even the most basic tasks (think a whole lot of dirty clothes). It was at this point that I realized that I needed to take a step back from my own life, take a personal inventory of my priorities and the things that mattered most to me, and take some of the commitments in my life off of my plate.
You can’t be all things to all people. When you feel yourself being consumed by your responsibilities, sometimes all it takes is writing a list of everything you do, taking a long, hard look at it, and making the tough decisions of what to let go. Think to yourself, “Is this a value-added experience?” Sometimes you might be hindering or hurting your causes more than you’re helping them because you’ve spread yourself too thin. Think about the activities that matter the most to you and the responsibilities you have to others that you can’t break. Whatever is left might be something that is okay to let go.
This isn’t an easy process, especially for ambitious students eager to prove themselves and find their way in an ever-competitive world. Remember as you go through it that turning something down or having to say no isn’t a failure; it’s a learning process that is invaluable for anybody. We are all human and are not superheroes; nobody expects you to be able to do everything at once. Don’t let your responsibilities consume you, because doing mediocre work in everything means a lot less than doing great work in a few things. You’ll quickly see your full potential starting to emerge as you gain more time to devote to less projects. We all hate disappointing people, but saying no and explaining that you are thankful for the opportunity and would love to revisit the idea in the future, if possible, will gain you respect among your peers and networks and is a great way to keep a contact for later. Here are some tips from Michael Hyatt on how to say no that I found useful. So go home, do some soul searching, write that list, and start crossing things off. You will feel an immediate weight being lifted off of your shoulders as you gain the invaluable treasure of time.
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