“How are things going?” “Busy! Busy but good.”
If you’ve answered the above question like this before, you’re certainly not alone. Americans in general—but college students especially—are busier than ever before. College campuses are right up there with airports and train stations: busy hubs with lots going on. Between homework, classes, extracurricular activities, ministry opportunities, roommates, dorm-room cleaning, hang-outs with friends, group projects, and coffee dates, it can feel hard to catch your breath at school.
The tough part is that many students tend to bring the busyness upon themselves. While homework and classes are unavoidable, there’s simply a lot of fun stuff happening at college, and it can be tough to discern what one should get involved with and what one simply wants to get involved with.
So, how do you know if you’re too busy? Is there a good way to filter your activities? What’s the best way to to rid yourself of the plague of busyness and take control of your schedule?
1. Warning signs
There are a couple different warning signs that present themselves as signals that you might be getting too busy. One sign that crops up in many a schedule is activity overlap. Do you find that you’re accidentally double scheduling activities or that their timing is overlapping? If you’re not able to start and finish a particular happening—a class, a sports practice, a church service—because you have other activities knocking on the door, you’re clearly not leaving yourself enough margin in between your undertakings.
Another warning sign is involuntary sleep. Do you find yourself accidentally drifting off while you’re studying in the evening? Is it tough to turn your alarm clock off in the morning? Did you accidentally drool on the notes you were taking in science class yesterday? Sleep is incredibly important, and college students rarely get enough of it. If you’re not making sleep a priority, consider cutting something out of your schedule so you can get to bed on time.
Finally, are you able to spend time with the Lord? If devotions and time in Christian community are being thrown by the wayside, think twice about how you’re spending your time and what you’re putting first.
2. Consider the root of your busyness
Behind any person’s busyness is a root that stretches deep down into the soul. It can be tough to figure out what’s causing you to choose busyness over a more peaceful schedule, but solving the mystery is possible. Start by asking yourself some questions: “Why do I like to have a full schedule?” “What would happen if I had more free time?” Once you have an answer, ask more questions until you get to the underlying reason beneath it all.
Some people fear being alone, so they fill their schedule up until there isn’t one moment to be lost in thought. Others struggle with people pleasing and want to be on excellent terms with everyone, so they avoid saying no—even if their schedule is filled to bursting.
At the root of much busyness is pride. Pride in one’s accomplishments, pride in one’s relational abilities…the list goes on. If you’re afraid to drop the ball or loosen up your commitments because it will appear that you’re failing, consider your definition of success. Whatever the root of your busyness is, it’s important to take a deeper look and solve that core issue rather than just continuing on. Busyness is a choice, and as a college student, you’re an adult who is fully capable of creating your own schedule.
So how do you figure out what to say yes and what to say no to? One thing that can be helpful is making a list of your priorities. Write down everything you’re involved in and then start ranking things from most important to least important. Weed out unnecessary tasks, and do the hard work of quitting one or two things that you simply don’t need to be spending time on.
Calendar your schedule out, so you’ll know exactly how much time you’ll have to accomplish things each week, and don’t forget to schedule in rest and play as well.
Ending the glorification of busyness is difficult, but it’s life giving to steer clear of an out-of-control schedule and adopt a peaceful agenda instead.