For a college student like me, life can be a balancing act. During the course of a regular school year, I’m constantly trying to juggle my academics, my extra-curricular activities, my church activities, my family life, and my social life. There are times when everything is in balance, and my life seems to be running like a well-oiled machine. But there have been times when I’ve felt drastically disorganized and everything seemed to come crashing down on top of me. It goes like this: a missed homework assignment here, a missed reading assignment there, forgetting about papers that need to be written until the last minute, forgetting about social commitments, etc. After a while, you realize you have lost control over everything, and your last hope is to flounder about, awaiting the end of a semester to relieve some pressure.
Too many college students (and people in general) have fallen prey to this syndrome, caused by procrastination, lack of sufficient organization, and lack of discipline. I, for one, have been all too familiar with this condition. My first few years of college followed similar patterns: they would begin well, but would end in disaster, stress, and anxiety. Had I been a little better organized and disciplined, I could have avoided many unnecessary headaches. Of course, I have grown older and wiser, and have taken a few simple steps to rectify this situation.
1) Don’t over-extend yourself. You are not a superhuman. You have limits. Recognize them! Remember that in order to be able to give your best effort to your commitments and duties, you need time to rest and recuperate. Otherwise, you’ll never be able to give 100% to anything.
2) Get a planner, organizer, or calendar. If you truly are a busy person, this is crucial. At some point in time, your memory will fail you. Use this planner or organizer to keep track of everything: homework assignments, appointments, and time that you promised to spend with your friends or family. Color code it if need be. You can also use Google Calendar.
3) Learn to say “no.” Again, you are not a superhuman and you have limits. Therefore, it’s ok to say “no” every now and then. I understand that you’d like to help other people or you’d like to be a part of a new organization that’s starting up, but you cannot give your best effort to anything else with umpteen other things already on your plate.
4) Make a plan, stick with it. Now that you’ve bought your planner, start writing in it. And don’t ever neglect it. Once you’ve decided how many activities you can handle, don’t take on any more. It’s time to develop a little discipline. It might be hard at first, but as do most things, it becomes easier with time.
Now that you’ve taken these steps, you are on your way to an organized and successful life free of unnecessary stress. I hope these tips work for you as they worked for me. Remember, “An idea can only become a reality once it is broken down into organized, actionable elements” (Scott Belsky Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality).