Monday, April 22, 2013

Overbooked and overbusy

Lindsey Treffry | blot
Meredith Metsker is a journalism major. A pep band and marching band member. An acapella-playing KUOI DJ. An editor and member of the Sigma Alpha Iota women’s musical fraternity. A 20-hour minimum, part-time education reporter at The Moscow-Pullman Daily News. She does yoga twice a week and goes to the gym a bit more. Currently on a co-ed basketball team, she plays intramural sports when she can.

Hayden Crosby | Blot
Busy-bee Meredith Metsker DJs
in the KUOI radio station studio.
“Sometimes, I regret that I fill up so much of my time,” Metsker said.

Her part-time job takes up most of her schedule, since the amount of tasks for a reporter constantly fluctuates.

“I like the busy life, I guess,” she said.

Sadie Grossbaum knows the story.

The outdoor recreation leadership major and psychology minor also serves as an ASUI Senator, a member of the Alcohol Task Force, an Outdoor Program staffer, a Free Thought Moscow member, and she dances her Wednesday nights away with the UI Swing Dance Club.

When Grossbaum made the switch from biochemisty to recreational leadership, it wasn’t to lighten her schedule.

“When I told (biochemistry students) I was changing my major, they said ‘So you’re giving up?’” she said. “I had a 4.0.”

Recreation is what Grossbaum likes.

“Since I’ve been in Moscow this semester, I haven’t spent a single weekend in Moscow,” the skier and hiker said.

But there are downsides to such a busy schedule.

Grossbaum noticed a decline in her personal health.

“I don’t have time to go to the gym,” she said. “I don’t have time for basic human needs. Sleep doesn’t come often.”

This year, Metsker finally realized she had overbooked her schedule.

“I have no time to take care of myself,” Metsker said. “I had to bail out on people … I hate being a flaky person.”

UI Psychologist and Professor Sharon Fritz said there are consequences to an overbooked schedule, including lack of sleep or poor eating habits that can lead to irritability or tensions in relationships. 

“Not taking care of yourself, not eating right, sleeping right, not engaging in physical activity — accumulatively, that will catch up with you,” Fritz said.

Stress can cause gastrointestinal problems, upset stomachs, back aches or headaches, she said.
“You’re worrying a lot, have racing thoughts, not being able to quiet the mind or turn it off emotionally,” Fritz said.

This matters now, Fritz said, because busy students are potentially establishing life-long patterns, just as she has in her life.

In college, Fritz wanted to do well academically. She had a part-time job, she volunteered, held internships, had a boyfriend, was part of sport clubs and wanted to get all As — 99s to be specific. Flash forward to last month and Fritz admitted to taking on more projects than she should have. 

“If we are busy now, the chances are we will be busy in the future,” she said. 

Being overloaded is something busy-bee Grossbaum notices in others, too.

“People should give 100 percent to one thing instead of 10 percent to 10 things,” she said. “Some people are so good at so many things.”

But, she said, the quality of work often suffers.

So if now is the time to adjust schedules, how can busy students learn to cut back?

“It’s easier to say ‘no’ if you understand what your priorities and goals are,” Fritz said. “It’s not saying ‘no,’ it’s saying ‘Yes’ to your priorities.” 

She suggests role-playing. Say “no.” Think of reasons ahead of time to say “no.” 

“I’d love to do that, but now isn’t a good time for me,” she said, for example.

If students juggle too much, they can’t do a good job, and that impacts how students see themselves, Fritz said. 

There is another side of the spectrum, though — lazy students. Students who say “no” to everything. Students who are barely involved in school itself.

“People who are involved in a club activity do better academically,” Grossbaum said. 

Fritz compares it to a bell curve.

“Too much stress interferes with our performance. But the same is true if we’re not stressed enough or not busy enough,” she said. “It’s hard for students to manage that. It changes every semester.”

With changing credit loads, classes and outside activities, each semester brings a different level of stress. Fritz emphasizes balance. 

“Being stressed enhances happiness, motivation and overall success,” she said, as opposed to a lack thereof.

Grossbaum said her outside activities and involvement in ASUI give her a sense of community that less-busy students may be missing out on.

“If you don’t have that, it can be detrimental to your academics,” she said.

And although Metsker is booked clear through her May graduation, she enjoys everything she does.

“Music is my stress relief, and KUOI goes along with that,” she said. “Music may not be applicable to my career as a journalist, but being able to juggle all these activities is invaluable.”

As seen in April issue of Blot Magazine.