This was one of the questions I got from a reader on my blog, and as usual, I decided to make my answer into a blog post.
During my time as a student in the university, I did a bit more than just be a student – I was a saxophonist at my school fellowship, a code tutor, a community leader and a top Microsoft Student Partner. Aside from all these, I was still attending software competitions and conferences throughout my stay at the university. You might want to ask me; how do you handle all this? how were your grades? how were you able to manage your time between all these activities?
First, I would like to point out that all the activities I was involved in were top priority as they would later form the being that I am today. Today, I contribute to OSS and lives, make tutorial videos on YouTube, I got two podcasts running (This Dev Life and something personal) – all these are in addition to being a full-time employee, husband to a wonderful woman and father to a gorgeous princess.
Now to answer the question I was asked.
Can a student manage so many extracurricular activities with academics and if yes, what advice would I give to such a student?
My answer is yes, BUT – as a student, there is so much that you can do. Your primary assignment for being in school is to study, other things are secondary.
Now, there is a dicey bit to this, what if what you are studying does not align with your passion? – what do you do? Do you drop out? Do you just stay in school and make study a second priority?
My answer to this would be to sit and analyse, look into the future – yes you can, 5-10 years down the line, what would be the outcome of your decision now? Would you – as an older version of you – give such advice to a younger version of you in 15-20 years?
- Get your goals documented: short-term goals, long-term goals
- Set tasks you need to perform to reach these goals
- Prioritize these tasks, bringing the most urgent ones to the top of the list
- Allocate time to each of these tasks
- Start out with each task
- Every month or two, revisit the plan book and evaluate progress
- Repeat from step 1
You may wonder why I did not give a direct answer – that was deliberate, because everyone is different. What works for one person may not ultimately work for another. As the saying goes, one man’s food is another man’s poison.
You and your goals are what matter. The steps you take, the activities you get involved in to achieve such differ from one person to another.
When you prioritize activities, it is easy to weed out the ones that are not important and get your actions in order, you become selective – and maybe not have a very social life for a while – but that is fine. For me, it was about building myself for the things I was to take on later in life. This is what I still do every day. There is always a higher pedestal to reach and when I get there, I would have only just begun.
I would say, it is good to get involved in extracurricular activities, but do not bite more than you can chew. It is okay to say no to many activities – as long as the ones you get involved in are in alignment with you goals and passion.
Let me know what you think.