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When you get to college, figuring out which organizations and clubs to join can be difficult. Between involvement fairs and mass emails, you hear about so many groups that could all be amazing. Though joining clubs and getting involved on campus is great, it’s important to know when you’re overcommitted.

The first way to figure out that you need to cut back on the extracurriculars is if you don’t have time to eat. Staying active on campus is important, but so is keeping yourself healthy. If you find yourself sacrificing meals or sleep to keep up with your schedule, it’s time to cut back. This was a struggle I faced my freshman year, mostly because I came from a smaller high school. In high school, students were encouraged to be involved in many things, and organizations worked together to create schedules that didn’t overlap. This way, students could attend multiple meetings for different organizations without overloading their schedules. In college, I quickly realized that many organizations held meetings at similar times. I had to learn to prioritize and decide which organizations were most important to me.

Another clue that you’re too involved is not having time to do homework. Though college is an experience, it’s also still school. Your classes are the reason you are at college, even if it doesn’t seem like it at times. Classes should always come first, and if you don’t ever have time to finish assignments, you need to dial it back. Personally, I had trouble with doing work for extracurriculars while sitting in lecture classes. While the professor went over notes, I would update the organization’s Twitter or write up a proposal for campus events. I found myself more focused on the clubs I had joined than the classes I was taking. I learned that although extracurriculars in college are important, there is no substitute for going to class and paying attention. One way of reconciling the need to stay active on campus with maintaining grades is getting involved within your major. Many schools have pre-med or pre-law societies and clubs for different degree programs. Devoting your time to these groups can put you in contact with other students who understand you and what you love to do. As a bonus, some of these students are probably in your classes. When difficult tests and finals week come around, you will have built-in study groups.

Figuring out that you’re overcommitted can be easy. Sometimes, the tricky part is figuring out what to do with that information. Since you’re now in all these great organizations, it seems impossible to leave one. However, you need to understand that doing everything, though it seems totally realistic at the beginning of every semester, is actually not possible. I have a problem with devoting all of my energy to whatever I am doing at the moment. If I spend too much of my time in meetings about extracurriculars, I run the risk of burning myself out before I can get to schoolwork. I had to learn how to whittle down my list of activities one by one. I invested in a detailed planner, and I use it to not only manage my various assignments and activities but also to hold myself accountable. At the beginning of each semester, I look ahead to see how busy I will be. If it looks like I won’t ever have time to relax and rest, I know that I need to cut back. If it seems that I won’t be busy, I know that I can dedicate some more time to different activities.

Staying organized can help if you are struggling with commitment, but if you are doing too much, all the planners in the world won’t be of much use. Overcommitment is a hard truth to face, but picking what you truly love and focusing on it is a great way to clean up your schedule and do the things you love to do.

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