How To Avoid Spreading Yourself Too Thin
By: Vanessa Nyawabila, SDSU Chapter Member
A few months ago, a very close friend of mine asked:
“What do you do when you feel like you're spreading yourself too thin, but continuously have opportunities that are hard to say no to?”
This was a hard question to answer. As someone who is the queen of over-committing myself, I too had to self-reflect on this question. I tried to do it all, working myself until I would get sick and stressed because of how busy I was. And I realized there needed to be a change.
After pondering the question for a while, and talking to other friends, I realized a majority of the people I spoke with, felt the same. As science students, we are prone to over-committing ourselves. Juggling classes, committing to various volunteer opportunities, research, shadowing, extracurriculars, and having a social-life, it is hard for these activities to not consume all of our time. They are all important to our future, but how do we balance it all?
As humans, we are not meant to be under immense amounts of stress. Yet, we continuously put ourselves in situations where we feel overworked. To avoid burning out, I have compiled a list of ways in which we could get out from under the weight of the lists of things we want to do. Additionally, maybe you are doing too many things and you are not feeling content with all the things you are doing--this list is for you as well!
How to Avoid Spreading Yourself Too Thin
1. Say No
Just start saying no. To everything. Okay, maybe not everything. However, I find this step to be one of the hardest steps, yet the most important. You do not have to say yes to every opportunity thrown your way. You might need to prune from more activities than you would like in order to give yourself time to reevaluate your commitments. For me, after taking a step back and assessing the different roles in my life, I realized a good majority of them were not as great or meaningful as they promised to be. It is important to search for what you are interested in and put in the time into what you like. Granted, you do need a cycle of learning what types of experiences are worth your time towards where you want to go. But once you figure that out, stop saying yes to everything!
I used to say yes to every interview, every collaboration, every meetup, every volunteer opportunity… and it was exhausting! It quickly became aware to me it was way too much. Through practicing this technique, I have known exactly whether or not I should do something when presented to me. Even when people ask me out to lunch of coffee. If I said yes to everyone who asked me to do something when asked or hang out when they asked, I would never be able to get anything done. Adding on, it is essential to have time to yourself to recharge so that you can be fully present in the parts of your life that are important.
3. Stop Explaining Yourself to People
You do not have to conspire an explanation on why you are saying no to things. For me, this was one of my hardest to learn and got through with. I hate to disappoint people, but once I was honest with myself, I began to realize anyone who cares for me will not get upset with me for taking time to prioritize certain things in my life. And that is what it really comes down to. As long as your motives are genuine, you are going to do just fine.
Say yes to the things that make you ecstatic to get out of your bed in the morning.
Say yes to the things that you want to do before anything else on your to-do list.
Say yes to the things which align to your goals and visions.
Say yes to the things which align to who you are, who you want to be, and where you want to end up.
Do not be afraid of missing out by saying no. There are times where you will have fomo, but do not let those feelings avert your path to success. Opportunities will always be there. Put the important things first and start living a better life!