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Wellness

What To Do When You’ve Overextended Yourself

If you’re anything like me, you assumed that quarantine was the best time to say “yes” to everything, because you had nowhere to go and nothing better to do. Now, you’re struggling to uphold all of your commitments, and you barely enjoy any of them anymore.

If this sounds like you, don’t worry; I’m here to help. As we get closer to the next term, implement the following 5 steps to ease your end-of-term stress, and set yourself up for success next time.  

Assess how many things you’ve committed to

Make a list of everything you’ve said “yes” to. This list should include classes you decided to take, chores you promised to do, clubs you joined, jobs you work, and personal projects you have. Maybe you’re writing a book, or maybe you’re building a social media empire — who knows! Add everything to one central list and keep adding to it if you end up forgetting something. 

Find the dates that each of your commitments end

For each item on your list, add the date that the commitment ends in a second column. For school, this date will be the last day of classes or your exam date, while clubs or jobs might end at different times. Personal projects might have specific end dates, but may also continue for a long time, so use some discretion to pick a reasonable end date for the phase of the project you are working on right now. 

Choose your priorities

Now that you know your commitments and their timelines, you have to prioritize. They will be different for everyone, but for most of us, academics will be the priority. The reason why you have to choose your priorities and make an ordered list of their ranking is in case one priority asks you for extra commitments or demands more of your time than it is worth. If this happens, you will have a clear system to regulate your response. If one of your lower priorities tries to take precedence over your number-one priority, you should be able to say “I’m sorry, but academics is my priority right now” in order to set proper boundaries.

Make a spreadsheet or wall calendar

Now that you have all of the facts in order, make yourself a little calendar with each commitment and its end date. I would recommend a spreadsheet so that you can track your progress on all of your commitments to ensure that they get done before their end dates. This way, you can hold yourself accountable and keep track of everything. 

Promise to never do it again

The goal of all this planning is twofold. Not only does it mean that you will be able to manage the rest of your semester, but it also means that in the future you will have a way to rein yourself in before things get too complex. As you add commitments, you will be able to notice your commitment list getting long and unmanageable before the commitments themselves become unmanageable. Promise yourself that you won’t do this to yourself again!

Emma Schuster

Waterloo '24

Emma Schuster is a second-year student at the University of Waterloo, pursuing a Joint Honours in Environment, Resources, and Sustainability and Biology. She sits as a member of the UWaterloo Senate and works as the Social Media Coordinator for Habitat for Humanity Ontario Gateway North.
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