National Campus Life Network > Blog > time management

Overcoming Excuses


We hope you’ll continue running on your Symposium high (and for those who weren’t there you can read this recap!) But we know that reality hits once you get back to school and other commitments. Read this to get some practical pointers and motivation on how you can overcome excuses!

Written by Rebecca Richmond

Excuses, excuses…we hear them, we accept them, we’re irritated by them, we’re even guilty of making excuses ourselves. When it comes to the excuses to avoid pro-life involvement and campus outreach, we’ve heard them all.

In fact, this post was written in response to a suggestion from a student leader to address the topic of excuses in a blog post!

And whether you’ve heard these from yourselves or your friends or club members, the good news is that they’re normal AND they can be overcome. Here are our answers to the top excuses we’ve heard (or made…):

I need to put the priority on school. I just don’t have enough time.

Yes, yes do. We want you to pass your courses with flying colours and go into the world armed with your brains, your degree, and the heart of a nation-changer.

But even if that is your top priority, hopefully you have other priorities in your life still: your health, family, friends, etc. Students across Canada are also putting a priority on the lives of pre-born children and you can too – without flunking out.

There are sacrifices, to be sure, and the sacrifice of time is a steep one. But often, at least in our experience, the issue is not so much the time, but our time-management.

If we start to evaluate our schedules and consider where we put time and into what, we will likely find that, at least on occasion, what we’re spending time on doesn’t match our convictions. The reality is that we always have time for the things we make time for. If our hours with Netflix outweigh our hours of community service, then maybe we need to consider if our priorities match our convictions.

But you don’t have to manage this all alone. NCLN’s staff want to make your work on campus easier. Our resources, training, and mentoring are designed to do just that. Busy students work with our staff each semester in order to impact their campus – without dropping their GPA. (And we have helpful hints for time management too!)

There aren’t enough club members and I can’t do it all alone, so I just can’t do it this year.

Fact #1: There will probably never be enough club members to do all that needs to be done.

Fact #2: The little you do with a few people accomplishes much more than doing nothing would accomplish.

Fact #3: You’ll never attract members unless you actually do something in the first place.

The general principle is: start where you are with what you have.

And there’s so much that can be accomplished when you do! Contact your NCLN Campus Coordinator to help you find little things that you can do that can still have a big impact. There are projects that require practically no prep or cost, no booking, and as many or as few club members as you have – and yet still has an impact AND can help you recruit new members. We’d love to help you get started on them!

I support the cause but I’m focused on sharing the gospel on campus.

There are many good and important groups and causes that people should give time to. But involvement in one doesn’t mean you can’t support another (most if not all students we work with are in that situation!).

If our opposition to abortion – an act that is daily claiming the lives of Canadian children and is funded by our own tax dollars – does not manifest itself in anything except for an ‘I-support-pro-life-but’ statement, then how much does our conviction mean? This is not a charity, this is an emergency.

Maybe you can’t take on a leadership position within the pro-life club, and maybe the club’s weekly meeting is in conflict with another commitment you already made, but there’s other ways you can be an enormous support to the cause on campus:

-Volunteer at a weekly Outreach Table;
-Participate in clipboarding a couple times a month;
-Use your networks to bring friends out to club events.

Just a few hours here and there can be incredibly helpful to the club leadership and to your campus!

I’ll support the cause after graduation.

Unfortunately, abortions are still happening now and therefore our action is needed on our campuses now. Campuses contain the demographic most vulnerable to abortion as well as Canada’s future leaders. We need to be active on campus now in order to make sure these future leaders are well educated, that their hearts and minds are changed so that they can build a brighter future for Canada now and after graduation. We need to be active on campus now in order to reach out to those who may be faced with an untimely pregnancy, for their own sake and the sake of their pre-born children.

The problem with ‘tomorrow logic’ is that tomorrow ‘is always a day away’. If you train yourself now to put off urgent causes until tomorrow, then how will you have the character later to act and speak up?

Our character, our virtue, is formed by our habitual actions, the choices that we make. Our time at university is an ideal time to become pro-life leaders. Now, and not after graduation, is the time to learn the time management skills we need to complete our studies and give time to other priorities in our lives. Now, and not after graduation, is the time to choose to make small sacrifices, to practice courage within a controversial issue, to seek justice and mercy in our nation.

(After graduation is a great time to start supporting the work of NCLN as a monthly donor! Just thought we’d point that out. 😉 )

To reiterate the main points here, this cause is not a charity, it’s an emergency, and we need to match our convictions with action. But you’re not alone in trying to address this emergency: NCLN exists specifically to support you, to help you overcome the excuses you might hear from others (or occasionally feel tempted to make), and to make sure that you can be successful in your club and your classroom.

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Turning Busy Into Beautiful: Practical Steps to Take as Students and Pro-Lifers

By Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director

Sleepy head

I noticed a disturbing trend in my language this fall. A four-letter word was figuring prominently in my vocabulary: busy.

Busy, busy, busy. My answer to questions about how I was doing, my running monologue in my head: busy, busy, busy. 

The more I heard myself use it, the more I realized that I was using it as a crutch in so many ways.  The more I heard others use it, the more I realized it was an exhausting to listen to and not terribly attractive to witness. And I don’t know about you but, no matter what my schedule or responsibilities consist of, I want to lead a beautiful life, and not a ‘busy’ one.

And so I welcomed the insights within a blog article entitled “Busy Isn’t Respectable Anymore”  that circulated on social networks recently. In it, Tyler Ward outlines how ‘busyness’ is no longer respectable but actually can indicate, among other things, that we’re not managing our time well, that we lack self-confidence, and it can even negatively impact our work as well as our lives. He goes onto describe an experiment a friend undertook in which he eliminated the word ‘busy’ from his vocabularly for an entire year.  If you haven’t yet read the article (too busy? hmm?) then do so now.

 Done reading? Welcome back.

What does this mean for us as students, as pro-life student leaders and activists? How can we turn ‘busy’ into beautiful?

I suspect I’ll be figuring out the answer to that question for the rest of my life but in the meantime, I’d like to propose two ways we can turn busy into beautiful – and improve our effectiveness as pro-life campus leaders in the process.

1) Adjust our attitudes.

Attitude is contagious. How we decide to approach our to-do list, our balancing of school, courses, athletics, AND pro-life activism will rub off on others. Do we talk about it as a complaint, a burdensome thing that is sucking the very life out of us? Well, good luck recruiting new members if that’s the sales pitch! Is it a privilege, a sacrifice worth making, an amazing group of people to collaborate with? Now that is the kind of group I would want to join.

A positive attitude, even amongst a very full schedule, actually goes a long way to contribute to your wellbeing. And a busy attitude? Well, as Ward’s article states,

“Busy, it would seem, is a self-fulfilling prophecy.  The more we said it – the more we felt it.  The more we felt – the more we acted like it.  The more we acted like it – (well, you know the rest).  Guess what?  When we quit saying it, we reversed SOME (not all) of the craziness.” 

It’s not that you ignore the fact that there’s a lot going on; you simply don’t allow it to make you miserable and frantic. And believe me, operating at a frantic pace really just manages to exhaust you and everyone else.

At the end of the day it doesn’t matter if I ran around like a chicken with my head cut off, occupied and ‘busy’. What matters is, ultimately, what I did and if what I did really mattered. Did I take care of what really mattered so that the staff and students’ needs are being served? Was my team served or did they suffer because of my leadership?  

It’s a work in progress, but trust me, even a bit of progress can go a long way to help you and those around you – including your club.

2) Focus on the beautiful, not the busy.

In attempting to remove ‘busy’ from my vocabulary, I struggled to figure out what to say instead. I decided to try to share a bit of beauty instead of just the busy. It helped me adjust my attitude, as I discussed above, because I began noticing how much beauty is in my life. 

I also began to realize I was missing out on a lot. It’s much easier to answer ‘How are you?’ with ‘busy’ and leave it at that. It’s easier to talk about the to-do list circulating in my brain instead of the amazing things I get to be a part of. 

So instead of pulling out a laundry list to impress people with how little you sleep and how much you work, speak instead of something that has blessed you or interested you. Even simple questions like “How are you?”, “How was work?”, “How was school?”, “How is the pro-life club?” are opportunities to value those we come into contact with, to truly engage with them in a conversation, and to invest in the relationships.

Take it a step farther: use these as opportunities to share the amazing things you are doing on campus. If you have an event coming up, share your excitement about it. Now you have the opening to invite your friend to be a part of it, either by helping with the organizing or even just attending. Imagine the impact this could have on the membership of your club is even a few members of your leadership team started doing this!

 Easier said than done? Absolutely. But make a start:

  • Try eliminating ‘busy’ from your vocabulary – even just for a month;
  • Share the beautiful instead of the busy when people ask you how you are or how school/work/pro-life activism is going;
  • Use opportunities of sharing the beautiful to invite people to be a part of it by joining the club and coming out to the events. 

We, as pro-life students, are the voices of life on our campuses. In most cases, we are the only opportunity that our peers will have to hear the pro-life message on campus. We owe it to our peers and, most importantly, to all those babies whose lives are on the line to speak up and stand up. There are many things we will need to be in order to serve the cause and merely ‘busy’ is not one of them. Let us, instead, be beautiful, bold, courageous, and attentive to what matters and the opportunities that surround us. Let us, together, make 2014 a year of beauty.

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