Student Blog: Trying to Manage 'Doing It All'

Rediscovering your "why" and finding how AI can work to help you succeed!

By: Mar. 18, 2024
Student Blog: Trying to Manage 'Doing It All'
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My Instagram feed is currently full of the latest "tips and tricks" for conquering the fine balance of academics and just regular life.  I save every video I see in an attempt to try and be as productive as possible, however my efforts usually end up fruitless.  I feel that may be a common story for many and I have come to realize that you cannot adopt them all so what is important is truly figuring out what works best for you.

Whenever life feels overwhelming, I find it best just to take five minutes and just sit.  My stress usually comes from inflating the importance or duration of different tasks to the point I feel completely out of control.  However, taking just five minutes to sit and remember how grateful I am to have the opportunity to be busy with things I love pursuing.  For example, last semester I was in Pippin which required rehearsals every day of the week from 6 pm to 10 pm.  On Thursday, however, I had chemistry lab from 3:30 pm to 6:20 pm.  I spent the whole time praying I would make it to rehearsal on time because if I didn't I feared I would be cut from a number or miss out on extra opportunities.  Yet, just taking a few minutes to stop and appreciate how amazing it is that I can conquer chemistry and musical theatre put everything into perspective.  I decided I cared more about offering my greatest effort in both cases and that being anxious over a few minutes once a week was not worth it.  This may be different for each person, but whenever you feel overwhelmed I highly recommend refocusing on your value and your "why".

The first thing I recognize is I do not enjoy breaking up tasks.  If it is an essay or a reading, I must get the whole thing done in one day or else it will continuously bother me.  This makes crafting my schedule so much easier.  In my planner, I choose to divide by tasks and not time blocks (as some do) within the boundaries of a day.  I find this to be fulfilling and less stressful.  It forces me to complete tasks efficiently (and thoroughly) because if I do not, I punish myself the next day.  I like that I have realized this about myself because sometimes it is easy to listen to others and feel you are doing it the wrong way.  Usually, you're not doing anything wrong, though, because there are so many ways to approach task completion.  Start by noticing what gives you a boost of confidence and what makes you feel more overwhelmed.

AI used to be (and sort of still is) one of my greatest fears because of how many people would say it is going to take over every operation and leave us to be a bunch of sitting ducks.  This may be true (except for all of my performers out there!), but I have found it to be so very helpful.  No, I am not talking about cheating on essays or assignments (booooo) but rather using it to help you be more strategic.  I often will put my required tasks to complete, the duration for completion, and any exercise I may want into ChatGPT and it will spit out an idealized daily schedule for maximum efficiency and least time possible.  I use it to brainstorm healthy meal prep ideas or snacks, what musical theatre songs I should add to my book for my range, or even ask for other tools to help me with my school work (like apps, books, or podcasts).  I could spend hours discovering how it can assist me in tasks beyond academic dishonesty (because we don't support that!).  If you're ever stuck on how to approach something, see if ChatGPT can help!

My final thought is that I always operate on a reward system.  For me, this could be anything from earning a 20-minute walk or longboarding around campus to seeing if a friend wants to meet for lunch.  Sometimes it can be easy to get into the zone and stay in it, but often I come out feeling like a dead machine and not a balanced human.  I recommend finding a few things you love doing in your downtime and planting them in your schedule to motivate yourself just to maintain momentum.  I often do the 1 hour on, 10 minutes off method with an hour break every 4 hours or so.  This offers a guide to how much time I have to work on something before I have to take a break.

School is all about balance and it is important to find what works best for you.  There are plenty of people willing to suggest what may be the most terrific method, but ultimately it is up to you to decide!  Make it enjoyable because that's probably why you started in the first place, but if it wasn't, go back to your "why" and try again!


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