What to Do When You Have Too Much on Your Plate

At the activities fair, people are thrusting flyers at you from all directions. Assorted sports balls are flying overhead. People are shouting to communicate. It’s all a blur and somehow by the end you’ve signed up to be on the mailing lists for a dozen clubs. A couple of weeks later you get a job on campus to help pay for school, or just for some spending money. By now labs and recitations have started and you find you’re skipping meals and not getting enough sleep. This is no way to live! Here’s how to limit your commitments when you have too much going on.

Sunny quad

Evaluate what’s most important to you

Make a list of your priorities, values, and goals. How do your commitments fulfill those things? Cut the ones that don’t. Still too busy? Streamline your extracurriculars to most efficiently fulfill the things that are most important to you.

For example, this semester I chose to quit yoga club because I’m taking a yoga class that meets twice a week. Yoga is a form of physical activity that helps me relax and that I enjoy. However, in the interest of eliminating commitments, I don’t need to do both things. If you’re a mechanical engineer in both BAJA SAE and UR Makers, you can probably quit one since they both contribute to your hypothetical goal of gaining practical experience outside of the classroom.

Unsubscribe from mailing lists

Hop on Campus Club Connection (CCC) and click “unsubscribe” for any club you’re not committed to. Even if you’re ignoring the emails anyway, it’s helpful to just stop receiving them. Getting those emails reminds you of all the other things you want to do, which can create stress. If your rationale for staying on the mailing lists for clubs you’re not active in is that someday you might have time, know that you probably won’t. You might as well just check the club’s CCC or Facebook page to get updates on events you may want to go to rather than getting reminders for things you definitely don’t have time for.

Be mindful with your free time

Sometimes students do technically have free time, but they spend it doing mindless things that don’t really help them relax. It then doesn’t feel like free time. Watching Netflix is fine, but if you’re binging it and then freaking out about not having any time, you’re doing it wrong. Instead, consider more mindful, fulfilling activities such as exercising, cooking, or calling a family member.

Switch up your classes

If the add/drop deadline hasn’t passed yet and there is some flexibility in your schedule, rearrange your classes. If you’re taking four classes that all have mandatory labs and you can afford to drop one in lieu of a class without a lab, that can help. As a last effort to free up your schedule, opt for courses without labs or recitations or classes that reportedly require less work.


College is a very exciting time and you can easily be overwhelmed by all the things you want to do. If you find you’re chronically too busy, take a step back and cut down on your commitments. It’s so freeing once you’re done.

About the author

Kayla Zilke

I'm a member of the Class of 2021 from Seattle, WA majoring in psychology with minors in business and environmental humanities. I'm involved with Quidditch, GreenSpace, EcoReps, intramural sports, the Student Association of Vegan and Vegetarian Youth, and Hatha Yoga.

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