Balancing Extracurricular Activities With School/Uni/WorkBy Louise Nice in HSC
16th of May 2018
Life. School. Uni. Work. I know it gets hectic. Add in a few extracurriculars and you constantly find that there’s no time for yourself. I know how it feels. I currently have a very hectic full-time university load that changes each week. This is on top of several extracurriculars I do currently – including peer mentoring, sitting on a couple of uni club committees and volunteering. Here’s a few pointers as to have to balance the time you have, and to reduce stress when it comes down to the crunch!
Make sure you’re passionate about the extracurricular you’re interested in doing.
If you’re not passionate in what you’re doing, spending a few extra hours doing the new extracurricular in your life will start to feel a bit like a chore. Being driven will allow you to keep going with your extracurricular in the long run, even when the going gets tough! Ask yourself if you’re really interested in being involved in all the activities that you get to do in the extracurricular and think about the time commitment.
Make sure that there is time to commit to the extracurricular.
There’s no point in committing 15 hours a week when you have only 3 hours a week to spare. Be aware of your time constraints, and make sure that it won’t cut into any work/study/class time you have. Remember that the activity is extracurricular. If you’re passionate about doing something related to your activity of interest, ask around to see if there’s something that can accommodate you around your availabilities – they’d be more than likely to accommodate you, if you’re willing to give them a go! I know this from first-hand experience, with some of the volunteering I do, and they slotted me into a time and place that suited both them and myself; a win-win situation for all!
Use a calendar, or a diary.
Or at least your phone calendar, which you’re more likely to use. You’ve probably heard this tip a million times by now, but it is such an important tool. Using a calendar or diary is great for keeping on top of knowing where to be and when. Calendars are especially great to give the overview for a week, or a month, so there’s no excuses in not being forewarned about anything that’s going on. Diaries on the other hand allow you to have an in-depth plan for each day and are uber useful if you need to schedule something in at short notice. Organisation is key to not being swamped over, and it helps you organise your availabilities, as well as when you have to say no. If I didn’t use a calendar or my diary, I’d probably somehow have a 20-hour day full of activities that I have no way of weaselling myself out.
It is also a good idea to keep track of meetings and any other events that might happen with any extracurriculars you have, especially if you have more than one, as times, places and events can vary for each thing you do.
Make sure you have time for yourself and your study/work.
It is important to have a healthy balance. School or uni should be 100% your top priority. Make sure you have enough time aside from attending to your extracurricular to attend class, do work, or relax. There’s nothing worse than having a hectic day that finishes late due to your extracurricular, only to realise that you didn’t study for that test that’s the very next morning. To help with this, alongside using a calendar (see tip 3), you could also have a whiteboard with a day plan, or maybe even a week plan with all your upcoming assessments, to remind you that you must do something about them before it is too late.
Alternatively, if it’s been a long day, and you are tired, but again, you must go to do something for your extracurricular again for the third day in a row, it’s also not ideal. This is where you’d likely need to take a step back, examine if it can be done later, and take some time for yourself. Some good suggestions to take some time out for yourself are: go for a walk or exercise at the gym, read a book, spend time with your family, or even take a nice warm relaxing bubble bath and go to sleep a little earlier than normal. This way, you maintain your well-being, whilst being the best that you can be during each activity you do throughout the day, as well as not being extremely overwhelmed by any assessments you have that are coming up.
It is okay to say no, or (temporarily) pass a duty onto someone else if need be.
If you are busy, stressed or unable to do something for your extracurricular, it should be okay to pass on a few duties that may need to be done, or to say no to any new opportunities you may have been given that you just can’t commit to.
For example, if you are pressed for time and you have a million assignments due by the end of the week, and you’ve just been asked to make a poster for an event next week by a club you’re apart of, there shouldn’t be any judgement in passing that job onto someone in the club that is less busy at present. Similarly, if you’ve just not got the time for the opportunity to become part of the new student representative group, even though someone offered you the opportunity, don’t be afraid to say no.
I know it is hard to temporarily pass on duties or say no to anything that sounds fun to do as an extracurricular, but as mentioned, spending time for yourself and your studies is equally as important, if not more.
Extracurriculars are a bunch of fun, and I highly recommend doing one or two in your spare time. However, keeping track of time and understanding that your main priorities are your classes and assessments is the main trick to making sure you don’t swamp yourself in, hence it ensures that you have the most fun you can with an extracurricular!