As a wise person with the same birthday as myself and who shares 50% of their DNA with me once said, “You never get asked to do less in medical school”. I think the same principle holds true for many other graduate programs and in some careers as well. The trick then is determining what to say yes to when you are asked to take on more responsibilities. While I was in undergrad, I created a spreadsheet to keep track of my time commitments on a weekly basis to make sure that I actually had enough time to accomplish what I wanted to. I found it helpful to reference the spreadsheet before I took on any more commitments. I have shared a copy of the spreadsheet for download below and will explain how to use it after the jump.
The tab titled “Example” gives a gist of what a completed sheet looks like. You can edit any cell that is not dark grey in either tab. In the “Blank” tab start out by filling in your non-negotiable items like sleep, exercise, how much time your commute takes, time spent with friends/loved ones, and give yourself a buffer with a miscellaneous subcategory for things you do on a daily basis but do not think about (making coffee, brushing teeth, getting dressed, taking out the trash, doing dishes, etc, etc, etc.). Then, fill in existing commitments you have, school, or otherwise. After you have completed these two steps, you should have a decent backbone about what your time commitments look like, if you can take on more responsibilities, and which days of the week are most amenable to adding a commitment.