Imagine the scenario… 7:45AM, the alarm buzzer piercing on a Monday morning… You run quickly to brush your teeth and throw on the first pair of jeans and shirt you see in the dresser… Hop into the back row seat in your Psych class just as the clock strikes 8:00… You gather in group discussions to review the most recent lab assignment, but all you are thinking about is the presentation you have to give in your Spanish class later that afternoon. After 2 morning classes, you run to Purnell to meet with your advisor about whether you want to stick with your Accounting major and add an MIS minor, or if you would be interested in taking some Marketing classes instead. Just a few minutes later, you get a text from your club president saying that not all of your members have paid their dues, and it is your responsibility as treasurer to be the one to ensure that payments are made. All the meanwhile, your résumé is under critical review as you are preparing for your two job interviews for summer internship opportunities on Thursday and Friday.
This may sound strangely familiar to many college students who have seemingly packed schedules week-in and week-out. Some of us have learned how to schedule and multi-task effectively, while others are still learning through trial by fire. It is easy to get caught up in the little details that pop up in our everyday lives, so learning how to manage our schedules and find balance in our activities is vital for survival not only in college, but great skills to carry us through our professional careers.
The truth is, loading up our schedules in college teaches us early on how important it is to be organized. To some of us, this means writing down all our assignments in our weekly planner or keeping track of our classes, meetings and work shifts on our electronic calendar. Others work better slapping together sticky notes, and everyday to-do lists. The lesson here is not to get caught up in “how” we stay organized, but to ensure that we are consistent and stay on top of our schedules – that way we are always prepared for the curve ball.
When considering the juggling act of trying to make it to class on time, putting in our hours at work, committing time to our organization and preparing for our professional careers all at once, balance is key. Balance, as well as taking pride in our work, often brings us the greatest sense of accomplishment. Getting the experience of prioritizing many tasks and responsibilities helps us prepare for the future – which, we can only imagine, will present us with more of the same challenges. Have you ever noticed how much easier a seemingly difficult task is once you have done it two or three times? Things like writing a paper for a history class, approaching a professor with questions about the homework assignment, or having to interview with four executives of a single company in one day!
The good news is that the more we experience, the further our multitasking and balancing skills develop. In turn, the more effective our skills become, the more responsibility we accept. Another crucial pattern that develops is our ability to become more aware of our limits and how many tasks we can allow ourselves to accept. So it is easy to see that this presents a never-ending cycle – but it has to start somewhere. So the next time you have three papers, work piling up, extracurricular commitments and job interviews all at once, just take a deep breath… and know that the more you take on, the more you adapt, prioritize, accept your responsibilities, and most importantly, know where to draw the line.
Mike Barugel is a Graduate Assistant at University of Delaware’s Career Services Center where he studied Information Systems as an Undergrad and is currently studying Counseling in Higher Education at the Master’s level. Mike is excited to work with students in helping them to use their skills and experience to find exciting internships and careers.