Why It's Okay to Lighten Your Workload During a Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted college students across the country in several different ways. If you’ve tested positive or a friend/family member has and you need to quarantine, it can be so isolating and take a huge toll on your mental health. College in general is just so different now, too. As students, we’re used to walking from class to class, going to the library and dining hall with our friends, and having tons of opportunities for socializing on the weekend that help us maintain a healthy balance between school and our social lives. Everyone has been coping with this change in routine differently. Personally, I dealt with the shut-down and being at home by burying myself in schoolwork. I told myself that if I couldn’t see my friends and live my normal college life that I missed so dearly, at least I would make sure I had good grades. This mindset has continued into the fall semester, even though I’m back on campus. I constantly tell myself that I should do more, not less, during this pandemic. However, I’ve noticed that both my friends and I are suffering from an extreme case of burnout this semester. It’s like everyone has been saddled with a larger workload and less opportunities for socialization. But, considering that we’re in the middle of a pandemic that can affect your mental and physical health, I think it’s time that as college students, we learn to be easier on ourselves.

Some of my friends have taken less credit hours this semester, and I always tell them, “that’s such a good idea, you can’t be expected to do it all considering everything that’s going on right now.” So why don’t I let this same logic apply to me? I’ve come to the realization that because life is so far from normal right now, I can’t expect my grades and academic life to be normal, either. It’s okay to recognize that you can’t do it all. There are less job, internship, and study abroad opportunities right now, and most of us are at least in some online classes. Everything concerning school has been changed quickly and drastically, and it more than makes sense for us to feel fatigued and burned out from staring at a screen and doing work all day. Zoom fatigue has been proven to be real – it’s harder to focus and absorb information over a video call than it is in a real class. If you’re exhausted from this semester of mainly video-based classes like I am, it might be helpful to reduce your workload a little bit and focus on yourself. 

There are several ways in which you can lighten your load during the pandemic. One easy way is to just take less credit hours than usual. Maybe you have a class that you don’t have to absolutely take now and can wait a semester. You can also change one of your courses to pass/fail and take some of the pressure off. This can also mean taking a step back from some of the organizations or extra-curriculars you participate in, if you feel that it’s getting hard to balance them with school. If you tend to be an introvert and social activities – even zoom calls – can be draining for you, it might be good to allow yourself to opt out of those and take time for yourself. I’d also suggest avoiding multitasking and giving yourself lots of breaks. It can be hard to recognize that you need to stop and take a break, but it’s likely going to improve your work performance if you’re not as hard on yourself. It’s okay to not be able to everything to the best of your abilities. Allow yourself time to rest and focus on one thing at a time. You’ll be glad you did farther down the line, and chances are, it’ll help you be more productive!