A new quarter is always exciting. It’s a fresh start that you can fill up with classes that excite you, with new memberships and student organizations, and with new jobs and internships. Like many other college students, I took advantage of all the opportunities available to us, applying to a bunch of organizations, getting extremely involved on campus. But as the quarter progressed and deadlines began stacking on top of each other, I realized that I had been deceived by the inability to realize that burnout is real. And it’s tough to deal with.
Plunging into a wide variety of organizations definitely has its advantages, but it can also be disadvantageous to have too much on your plate. And I knew that I had definitely taken on too much when my behavior started to change.
Sleep? Idk her.
I spent a great deal of my waking hours talking to my friends about how tired I was, how I couldn’t wait to take a nap. And yet, when it was time for me to sleep, I was either busy trying to catch up on meeting deadlines, or stressing about assignments to the point that sleep just wouldn’t come.
Social life? Out the window.
Although getting involved with organizations did give me a chance to meet new people, being able to spend time with friends is difficult when every minute of the day is spent trying to catch up with all your work. It became more and more difficult to keep up a social life when I felt constantly swamped with work.
I always felt behind.
It’s true that the quarter system moves quickly and makes it difficult for anyone to feel like they’re on track, but I felt even more behind with everything going on in my schedule. I found that my schedule was always filling up, and it felt like all my assignments were on a time crunch.
The combination of lack of sleep, lack of social life and constantly feeling behind all pointed to the same thing: burnout. Burnout was taking all the fun out of my involvements, instead making every obligation and responsibility feel like a chore. Burnout is real and tough, but there are also some real ways of dealing with it.
Make use of a planner.
When you’re busy, it’s important to know not only what’s on your to-do list, but also what is highest on your list of priorities. A planner can help you determine what you need to be getting done first, and it will help you structure your time in a useful way.
Social Media Detox
Social media definitely has its upsides and advantages, but when you’re swimming in deadlines and assignments, it can also be a tool that eats away your hours and leaves you off feeling even worse than before. By showing you the smiling faces of all your friends reveling in their early spring break, or taking a weekend trip to a theme park, social media can make you feel even more lonely. Dropping social media for just a day or two can give you more motivation to push through and finish your work.
Talk to people.
Talking to people—friends, family, peers—can help you ease the constant buzz of uneasiness that being much too busy can bring with it. Also, if worse comes to worse, it might be necessary to talk to the leaders of the organizations you’re in. By explaining yourself and how busy you’ve gotten, people will usually understand and give you a break. These leaders can help you extend deadlines, talk through your responsibilities and just help you free up some more time.
Burnout is a serious issue that can arise from getting too involved and putting much more on your plate than you can handle. By addressing the symptoms of burnout and learning how to deal with it, we can all do our best to get through college peacefully.