Do more by doing less
As the final weeks of the school year approach, many of us are entering crunch time. This crunch is not just due to exams and projects, but also due to trying to finalize summer plans. As the usual grind becomes more grinding, take a moment to think about how to free yourself from being ground down.
The usual grind is so grinding because of the relentless amount of time spent working. Even if the material is interesting, four hours in, it becomes tedious. After weeks of this, being burned out is the common feeling on campus. The circles below peoples’ eyes grow so gradually that we hardly notice.
Some people even revel in how overworked they are. They casually mention how few hours of sleep they got, how many hours they studied for an exam or how long they worked on their club’s event. There is a bit of pride in being so productive that everything is sacrificed for that productivity. It’s enough to make students with fewer obligations feel guilty.
Don’t feel guilty. Having free time means having time for chance. So many things in life are controlled by sheer chance. For instance, many of our college friends were on our freshman floor, which is something we had no control over. Free time means the ability to take a chance and go to that party where you only know a few people, or having the time to read more about a subject that interests you. Both events could change your life in a way you could never predict.
The pursuit of happiness is a fundamental right that this country was founded on. Ask any burned-out student if they are happy, and you probably won’t even get a response aside from a blank stare. Ask anyone who just got back from a party or just finished playing games, watching a movie or just relaxing, and you’ll get a smile.
America as a people is overworked. We have longer hours and less time off than many nations in the corporate world, and this rat race filters down to the collegiate level. The best example is the pre-med students’ focus on grade-point average, recommendations and getting the “right” internships. This excess of work is really productive, but in the long run, productivity’s value is questionable.
This summer break, take time to put work aside and just relax. Enjoy being around your friends and family. Have fun going somewhere new. In the long run, you’re not going to remember all those nights you spent in the library nearly as fondly as those few great parties or those short trips that turned into long adventures.
When you consider overloading your schedule next semester so that you will always be busy, consider doing less. Doing less and doing it better can be infinitely more rewarding than doing just the minimum needed for an overloaded schedule. You’ll avoid those huge crunch times, and the relaxation time will keep the studying from becoming a grind.
While those overworking students will be constantly busy and their résumés will be filled, they might be so busy that they miss what they really wanted to do. Instead of just plodding through the work put in front of you, taking the time to enjoy it and explore a bit can show you something you will be truly inspired by.
By exploring, you’ll meet people unlike yourself. So when it comes time to finding a job, these acquaintances will know people you don’t. The Career Center is fond of telling us that 80 percent or more of jobs are found through friends. So really, taking a night off and partying with some new people could be your best career move.
This summer break and next semester, make some time for yourself. Don’t feel like you aren’t getting “the most” out of college, because the best lessons of college often happen during your free time.