Understanding Your Overscheduling
Lectures. Tutorials. Study groups. Volunteering. Hangouts. Part-time job. There are so many things that a post-secondary student can do. You might even tackle all of those in a single day. The problems with overscheduling yourself can sometimes be obvious. Other times, walking the fine line between seizing the opportunities each day offers and not overstuffing your schedule can be a delicate balancing act. In a world where technology moves everything along at a breakneck pace, it can convince you to push yourself harder, with subtle side-effects.
The hectic nature of a busy schedule spreads through every facet of your life and permeates in unsuspecting ways. Part-time jobs and volunteer shifts look great on a resume and will help you in the future. If they are cutting into your studying time, your grades are sure to suffer, and now that work experience is ironically harming your future prospects. With less time to complete an essay, you are likelier to rush it in order to hand it in on time. You may not even notice you are doing this with so many things going on.
When an overscheduled person does finally have time to relax, whether it be on their own or with friends and family, it can be harder to truly enjoy that time. With the mind focused on work already completed and tasks that are coming up ahead, the present moment is robbed of its joy. This can cause issues with the family and friends who may feel hurt when you seem distracted.
Grades and relationships are far from the only negative repercussions. University College London researchers found that people who work in excess of 55 hours per week are 33% more like to experience a stroke, as well as 13% likelier to fall victim to a heart attack. This damage to your cardiovascular health is a slow killer that may not affect you today, but will slowly and surely sneak up on you. Even before a heart attack or stroke, the strain on your body is going to manifest in other ways, such as trouble sleeping or overeating.
Overscheduling is unhealthy, but so is an empty schedule. This leaves us with a conundrum: When is one’s schedule busy enough? At what point are there one too many things to do? Take a look at your own schedule by making a list of the different tasks that occupy your time. For each item, analyze exactly how it benefits you and how happy it makes you. Do the same for new tasks, classes, or work you are considering. The only activities that belong on your schedule are ones that provide very clear benefits. They should either make you happy now, such as time with friends, or will contribute to your happiness in the long-term – courses may be stressful, but that education will lead to great things. Finally, the deadlines of each item should not cause great conflict with one another, and should all be achievable.
By taking time out of your busy schedule to critique that very schedule, you can determine current activities that need to be dropped and potential ones you need to decline. Tackle that revised schedule, and then decide if further changes are needed. This is a balancing act that will not only continue to be tricky, but is bound to only grow in complexity as you progress in life. The sooner you start practicing a better life balance, the better and longer lasting the benefits will be.
Ross, John. “Only the overworked die young.” Harvard Health Publications. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/only-the-overworked-die-young-201512148815
Tran, Havannah. “3 Questions to Ask If You’re a Chronic Overscheduler.” PayScale. http://www.payscale.com/career-news/2017/09/chronic-overscheduler-take-back-time-3-questions
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