Busy bee burdens

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Darcy Anderson | danderson11@radford.edu

If you are like me, you still have a lot to work on during the last week of the semester. I don’t mean just the toppling tower of school projects, group projects, papers, and exams; there are bills to pay, boxes to pack if you are moving, meals to plan, jobs to go to, the list goes on and on and on.  Not to mention all the drama that comes with friends, family, roommate(s), classmates, etc. You start to think “oh my goodness will I ever sleep in these next two weeks?”

If your life is like that right now, keep reading. I realize that everyone’s life is tough and crowded, but I want to explain my personal experience so you know that I am a reliable and credible source.

Let’s start with how many jobs I have. Now, those of you who work with me, I do know that the university has a policy of not working a full-time student over 25 hours a week, and I keep that rule from week to week so no one gets in trouble.

I have seven jobs. I work at a daycare three afternoons a week. I am part of Radford’s Phonathon (or Call Center), where I call alumni and potential new students two nights a week. I play saxophone for the Red Alert Pep Band during the basketball season. I play bagpipes at a handful of Radford’s events; some paid, some not paid. I also babysit during weekends and breaks if the times work out with my schedule; there are three current families I babysit for on and off for many years.

Now onto extracurricular activities. As I mentioned before, I play bagpipes for Radford events. We practice together Thursday nights and on our own the other nights. I also play saxophone for the Radford University Jazz Ensemble that practices on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and has a few performances each semester. I am part of the professional music fraternity, Mu Phi Epsilon, as well as the communication honor society, Lambda Pi Eta. I also write for (guess who?) the Tartan.

Finally, school. I am a full-time, 18 credit-hour student. I have classes back to back Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday and every other hour on Monday and Wednesday. I am also on an advanced path for my major so I can graduate a semester early. That means I am taking classes and their pre-requisites at the same time.

My major-specific professors will typically expect more of me than some other classmates because they know I can do it. So I have the perfectionist inside me telling me exactly what needs to be done what way and how. On top of everything else to do.

My planner has eleven slots available each day to fill in plans I have. Those slots typically fill up to the top.

Breakfast happens in a rush and I typically end up walking very fast to class. I barely have 15 minutes for lunch, or to catch up on homework, unless a class cancels. Dinners must be quick and cheap before bagpipes, work, or a meeting for group projects.

I tried keeping a sleep schedule earlier in the semester. I would go to bed around 10:30 p.m. and wake up at 6 or 7 a.m. That ended during spring break. Nowadays, I get around six hours of sleep a night.

So how do I manage all this and keep a 3.55 GPA? I make it all worth my while. I make sure that my jobs and extracurricular activities are a haven from school stress instead of just another project.

At the daycare and with babysitting, I can play with kids and run around outside and grab story ideas for future children’s books (that’s what I want to do when I grow up).

At the Call Center, I either talk to alumni and get excellent advice for the future or be the one who gets so excited when a student commits to going to Radford in the Fall.

At the basketball games, I can cheer for Radford and goof off with friends and play some rocking music.

With the bagpipes, I can get dressed up in this timeless kilt uniform and play music that can be heard from far away.

Being in the Jazz Ensemble actually relaxes me and helps me de-stress. We play all kinds of music and just have fun rehearsing with each other.

The music and communication groups I’m part of are nice, since I can connect with other people who are just as busy as I am, and we can talk about how we handle it. I got advice from upperclassmen when I was first initiated into the music fraternity and now I’m giving advice to the underclassmen.

I like writing for the Tartan, especially the Insights section, because I can just take some time and personally journal. Plus, I geek out every time I see my words in print in an actual newspaper.

If I can have control over my school assignments, I make it so that the assignment is “fun” to do and something I already know a little about. For example, the homework for my group project about interactive publishing right now is literally watching Netflix shows and writing about it.

If I find that one of these jobs or activities is no longer worth my while, I take a step back and reconsider why I started in the first place and my role in it. Am I needed? Is it affecting me positively? Are my reasons for starting still important? If not, I leave. Simple as that.

Finally, I have priorities of certain activities and limits to tell me when to take a break.

School always comes first on my to-do list. Everything else must fit around school and my schoolwork. Though it helps that my classes will cancel every now and then or teachers will allow a certain number of unexcused absences/not require attendance.

Work comes next. I don’t ask off work for anything other than being overloaded with schoolwork (though that happens because of all the other activities and jobs I’m in). It also helps that the daycare doesn’t work me every hour I’m free or that pep band, bagpipes, and babysitting are not on a precise schedule. I can say no to those jobs every now and then. All the other stuff fits in behind it.

My limits keep me in line and keep me on track. I say the phrase, “there is just so much to do” with a sigh about every week. I try to do and handle as much as I can, but I still get stressed out. My panic attacks tell me exactly when I need to stop and take a breath.  I skip class to go eat lunch with friends, cancel weekend plans to go home, or simply stay up late that night doing nothing but watch Netflix and explore Pinterest.

I get through the day, the week, and the semester by prioritizing what needs to be done, knowing when I need to take a breath, and knowing that what I am doing is worth my while.