For as long as I can remember, keeping myself busy has always been my preference. I would rather have a full plate to keep my mind occupied than a bunch of downtime. When it came time for college, I was honestly feeling excited for the opportunity to take on a new challenge, and again, keep myself busy. In essence, I believe that’s a good thing — my drive is what allowed me to graduate a year ahead of schedule and have the nerve to apply for law school. Lately, though, I can admit I spread myself too thin while trying to accomplish those goals.

My summer was swept away with summer classes, LSAT prep [Law School Admissions Test], a summer internship and a part-time job. I quickly realized I had hardly any time for myself, my friends and my family. While I originally felt upset realizing what I had done, I now look at it as a lesson not only to myself, but for anyone who also relates to the love of staying busy. Sometimes, it is inevitable to be incredibly busy; for me, it was the only way to achieve my goal of graduating early. I will never advocate for giving up, but instead, I thought I would share some helpful tips that I followed to keep myself in check!  

Set an alarm for anything you actually need to do 

For me, this meant setting an alarm to remember take birth control, do my laundry or make an important call. It may seem a bit extra, but when you’re constantly running around trying to catch up, a loud reminder is typically what it takes to get stuff done! 

Make a realistic to-do list

We all love making to-do lists, but joke about not being able to cross everything off. In my opinion, for school, there needs to be a line. I would set unrealistic goals for myself, and as a result, I didn’t sleep until 4 or 5 in the morning. I also believe that part of finishing a to-do list is the sense of accomplishment, or feeling like you’re doing enough! A major point of these tricks is to feel more empowered! 

Give yourself the appropriate dinner-time setting, and take a break while you eat.

One of the worst mistakes I made was coming straight home from work, grabbing something quick from the fridge and beginning to cram in my homework. We absolutely need time to decompress, and I believe it makes the most sense to be enjoying the food we eat. Instead of trying to multitask something as important as fueling your body, give yourself 20 minutes to enjoy dinner without shoving your face in a screen.

Keep a calendar with only your homework assignments on it

This summer I was taking four classes online, which left me basically on my own to learn. The best way for me to keep track of my assignments were to download printable calendars and only list my school assignments on them. Instead of listing the due dates of assignments, I would put them on my calendar one day earlier than they were due. Not only did I keep myself ahead of schedule, I also kept myself from becoming overwhelmed by looking at each commitment’s due dates individually. 

Don’t neglect your relationships

It is so important to maintain steady relationships with friends and family. At the beginning of my summer, I found myself canceling plans with everybody so that I could sit at home and do homework. Yes, homework is important, but as mentioned earlier, we need a break. Being happy alongside good company reduces stress, which ended up positively impacting my grades when I took my own advice. Having fun every once in awhile is important! 

Don’t be too hard on yourself 

Most importantly, cut yourself some slack. I remember getting a less than fabulous grade on an assignment this summer and hating myself for days over it. Because of that, I got less accomplished because I was so consumed with my mistakes. Instead, take a step back and breathe. Remind yourself that what you’re doing can be intense and you’re bound to make mistakes — we’re only human, after all. 

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