The last week was very busy for me. With the combined pressure of homework, extracurricular activities, and recruiting season, my well-laid plans quickly fell apart. Since it was the third week of school, my schedule was filled with intro club meetings, auditions for the theater clubs I'm in, and meet-ups with friends I hadn't seen all summer. Unfortunately, this also coincided with career fair week, so on top of schoolwork and social obligations, I also had to go to networking events and prepare for career fair. With all of that going on and just a few bad decisions regarding time management, I found myself getting two or three hours of sleep for multiple nights in a row, and come career fair, I was asleep on my feet. Adrenaline and resolve were the only things that kept me awake and somewhat coherent during career fair, and as soon as it was over, I completely lost my ability to function. I woke up the next day with the start of illness, and by Saturday, I had a full-on cold complete with fever and really bad allergies. I slept all weekend, and now I'm behind-- yet again-- on my schoolwork for the coming week.
So what's the lesson in all this? Well, first of all, if you're finding yourself in a situation similar to mine, then you have to say no to something. I chose to forego sleep, and let me tell you, that was the wrong decision. When you deprive your body of sleep, your immune system functions at a lower capacity, and you're opening yourself up to get sick, and if the last few tissue-filled days have taught me anything, it's that my health is more important than my success in getting internships or doing well in school. When I'm sick, I'm operating at less than half my full capacity, and I'm much less efficient. It's much better if I'm awake and healthy, even if that means I spend less time studying or networking in the short run; in the long run, I'll do much better at... well, everything. It's much easier to be successful when your body isn't screaming at you to get some sleep.
What should I have done instead of foregoing sleep? Well, I definitely could have managed my time better, but beyond that, I should have cut down on the amount of socializing I did that week. I could have afforded to say no a few times when my friends invited me out to meals, and I could have been better about choosing which recruiting events to go and which to ignore. In the end, I stayed up really late working on an assignment that I didn't even finish. It wouldn't have been so bad to get the proper amount of sleep so that I could fall asleep in class less and therefore understand more about my homework assignments. Losing sleep made me much less efficient and wasted more time than just not finishing the assignment would have.
If you find yourself in this situation a lot, it might be worth examining your commitments to see if there's something you can drop. You might be involved in too many clubs, or maybe you're taking more classes than you can handle. Perhaps your study habits are inefficient, and there's something you can do to use your time more efficiently. Whatever the case may be, you shouldn't constantly be losing ridiculous amounts of sleep so that you can do everything-- of course, only you know what is a "ridiculous amount" for you. Your health should come first because you're going to have to live with your body for the rest of your life, so you might as well treat it the best you can.