Ryan Chartrand

With every busy quarter that passed, I longed for my final quarter at Cal Poly, which I promised myself would be, well, more peaceful and thus more pleasant. I told myself I would take no more than three classes, work less than I usually did, and maybe participate minimally in only one club or so.

Now here I am in the last few weeks of my college career, with four classes and some coursework to finish from last quarter, 30 or more hours of work, 10 to 15 hours of community service a month, and executive positions in two clubs. I know I’m not the only one in this position, too.

I have always been involved in a number of activities because I found being busy actually helped me maintain focus and accomplish more. However, it’s easy for me to get carried away by my obligations, burying myself in tasks and assignments as quickly as they come.

A lot of us probably remember how busy we were in high school. A 2007 study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that teenagers did an average of about seven hours of unpaid and paid labor per day – weekdays and weekends included – in 2005. Sixteen percent considered themselves workaholics (before they even started a career!), 39 percent felt under constant pressure to accomplish more than they could handle, and 64 percent slept less to do more.

I’m not going to tell you how to solve the issue of busyness in your life by explaining the concepts of organization, delegation, overcommitting and necessary rests. I will tell you that I think the primary issue is really how you feel about your busyness.

I want to be helpful. I want to be independent. I want to be known as an accomplished, capable woman with good grades and a social life. Personally, these reasons provide enough motivation to continue with my many commitments and even add some more every once in a while.

While my days are full of obligations and “tolerances” – the little things I do just to move on with life – I think about what I’m doing those things for. Will they help me reach my ultimate objectives? I think they will, which allows me to complete tasks with diligence and comfort of mind.

More than anything, I want to be content with my life and the activities I choose to take part in. However, the issue for many people is that they do not have comfort of mind in the things they do.

Only 45 percent of teenagers with high stress levels in the study previously mentioned reported being very happy and/or very satisfied with life, while 72 percent of teens with little or no stress considered themselves happy. This is where the problem stands.

Busy people should at least take enough time to recognize whether they are satisfied with their occupied lives. Sometimes it even helps to consider the big picture when dealing with day-to-day “tolerances” and other chores; I feel better about taking time out of my day to fulfill a task if I know there is a good reason for it, and that it will help direct me to the life I want to lead.

Make sure there is a reason you are busy, even if it means examining each duty you undertake. Don’t do something just because someone asked you to, or because you are capable of doing it. Do it to become and enhance the person you want to be.

Sara Wright is a reporter and copy editor for the Mustang Daily and a journalism senior.

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