Completely honestly, the process of staying on top of things can be quite the challenge here at Cal. With so many opportunities at our fingertips, it’s easy to overexert oneself, bite off more than we can chew, and in general, become stressed and worried. My second year here has been a journey for me in finding ways to stay grounded and on top of all of my commitments, in order to truly invest all that I have into them.
There are 3 main strategies I employ in making sure I get everything done throughout the semester: prioritization, organization, and balance.
One important strategy in managing a busy schedule is being able to prioritize aspects of it and letting go of what may be too much. For me personally, I was overly ambitious with signing myself up for extracurricular activities and classes my freshman year. A bit overwhelmed with my commitments, I promised myself I’d cut back for the next semester.
After a less hectic summer, I answered this reasoned plan by, rather than cutting back, joining a new organization and continuing to subject myself to a strenuous schedule. After a semester of almost burning out, I finally was able to cut back for the second semester of this year.
Making this change, while I was sad at first to be giving up some commitments that I liked, was ultimately so important in protecting my mental health and the integrity of my performance in other opportunities. Being able to prioritize what is most important is such an important skill.
The second method I try to employ in navigating a busy schedule is being organized. Using tools like Google Calendar (with which Berkeley emails are synced through bCal– an easy way to share one’s schedule with others,) a physical planner, and setting reminders on my phone has really helped keep me on track.
With so many little appointments and dates to keep track of, having an efficient, easily accessible, and streamlined organizer like Google Calendar is invaluable. Even having an organized system for my school supplies for each of my classes has really paid off and resulted to higher overall performance in each of my courses here.
Lastly, balance is one of the most important things to find in the process of meeting deadlines, achieving goals, and conquering each day. For me, it is important to find time in each day to eat a complete meal, make a cup of tea, and listen to music to find groundedness in the context of a hectic day.
I also make a point to not only commit myself to that which sounds impressive or on paper is most competitive, but rather, to activities that allow me to explore my passions and express myself. Being involved in dance on campus has allowed me a productive outlet to physically exercise, express artistry, and find community.
With these three main driving forces keeping me on track, I have begun to find a new normal in the face of an ever-dynamic, at times overwhelmingly stimulating college experience. It is with these methods that we students create experiences and memories that go beyond just four short years here.