Saturday, September 3, 2016

Me vs. Everything Else: Fitting Your Responsibilities into a Busy Life

Sometimes it feels like the world has it out for you, like it's too difficult to fit everything that you need to do into one day. The daunting to-do lists mock you and you're torn between doing what you need to do and what you actually want to do, curl up in bed and binge watch Netflix. There are so many moments that I've had that all I've wanted to do was to freeze time, just so that I could have a breather and take a moment to get refreshed. It's just that everything feels so overwhelming that you want to have a moment to catch your breath. However, as much as I wish that it existed, being able to freeze time doesn't exist. And it sucks, because it feels like it's just you against everything else, all of your responsibilities piling on top of each other. So when you have a million things to do, how are you supposed to get it all done while avoiding burnout and stressing yourself out too much? 

Me vs. Everything Else: Fitting Your Responsibilities into a Busy Life

I'm entering a stressful time in my life, where I'm getting pulled closer and closer to adulthood, and it's honestly crazy scary. I feel like I'm not ready to tackle the millions of things that I need to do, the piles of work that I have, totally amplified compared to previous years, my out-of-school activities, social plans, blogging, daily responsibilities, and more. I haven't gotten desperate enough that I've had to pull all-nighters (thank goodness!) but I have to admit that things are speeding up in my life. It's like I'm on a one-way roller coaster to adulthood that I don't ever remember boarding. Nowadays I've been finding myself with less time to spare, coming home and immediately getting to work instead of watching something on Netflix or surfing the internet. Sometimes it feels like I don't have enough time to get everything I need to get done, let alone any time for myself or my passion projects. So how do I even begin to tackle these responsibilities without throwing myself into a spiral of stress? 

Don't bite off more than you can chew.

Sometimes it seems like there's so much that you want to do and not enough time, I get that. However, the last thing that you want to do is burn yourself out. I'm all for doing lots of different activities and courses to enjoy yourself and challenge yourself, but you don't want to push yourself to the point that it comes to bite you in back. Try to consider what you value most to do with your time and the pros and cons to engaging in things. For example, I don't want to take a class that is too difficult for me, since it would only cause me to get bad grades and to be constantly stressed about it. Examine the benefits to a challenge and see if they outweigh the negatives. Remember that we're aiming for quality, not quantity. Just because you're in all AP classes or you're in 10 different clubs, doesn't mean that it's worth the effort that you're putting in. Don't think too much about the number of things that you do, instead think about the value that it would grant you for personal growth and/or personal satisfaction. Obviously, I'm still going to try to challenge myself, but I still want to be reasonable about my capabilities. I want to get in the stretch zone, where things are just a little bit more difficult than mine comfort zone, where it's a little tricky, but not overwhelming. I dare you to take challenges, but to take a few challenges, instead of filling your whole life with them. 

Set a bedtime.

I know what you're thinking, "A bedtime? I haven't had one of those since I was a kid!" Although you may not be a kid anymore, setting a bedtime is like setting a goal for yourself. Instead of just going about things randomly to try and get everything done, you have a deadline. It's like saying, I want to get all of my things done before 11pm. Obviously, it won't be nearly as enforced and strict as your childhood bedtime might have been, but it's a way for you to set a goal and also helps for you to get enough sleep. I like to be in bed by 10, 10:30 at the latest, because that way I get at least 8 hours of sleep. Stressed students tend to not value sleep enough, they rely more on coffee. While coffee may keep you up, it doesn't keep you as healthy and/or alert as actual sleep is. Think of it this way. If you don't have a bedtime (or a deadline), then it's fair game. It'll feel more acceptable to procrastinate, because you're not thinking about time management, and you could end up finishing your work anywhere from 7pm to 4am the next day. Setting a bedtime is a great way to ensure that you finish all of your work by your ideal deadline and also ensures that you get enough sleep to function properly. You may laugh now, but trust me, in due time, you'll be thanking me for this. 

Set aside time for yourself.

I cannot function without having some me time. Without having some quality time not doing anything but what I want to do, I get so stressed. It keeps me sane. I like to set aside a portion of my day every day that I spend 100% on me. Usually it's an hour, the hour before I go to bed will be spent doing whatever I want to do, instead of working. I'll surf the web or catch up on Netflix, maybe read some blog posts or work on a passion project, something that I'm not obliged to do. It's somewhat of a mini party for one every day. It's an hour (or however much time you delegate to self-care) where you put yourself first, above all the other madness in your life. In my opinion, the biggest reason why people are so stressed out is that they spend too much time on other things and not enough time on themselves. It's my secret weapon to staying sane and calm about everything, because when it's me against the world, I need to spend some time strengthening my own arsenal so that I'm ready to tackle my responsibilities when the time comes. When you have a weak foundation, (you), then how can you ever build all of your other tasks on top of it?

Make a game plan.

How can you ever conquer all of your responsibilities without having a game plan? Planning ahead makes things so much easier. Whether it's planning out something like how you can get all your work done, fitting in time for yourself, or doing adult duties like cooking and cleaning, it's great to plan ahead so that you don't have to think as much later. For example, I never think about what to cook for meals or what to prepare for lunch, because I plan it ahead of time. This is especially helpful if you're a struggling college student without a meal plan, you can plan out your meals for the whole week during the weekend and then go out and buy everything you need. During the week, you never have to stress about how you're going to feed yourself, since it's already planned out. You see, making a game plan simplifies your life and saves time during the week. When you have only 24 hours in a day, you don't want to spend precious time that you could be doing work with trying to figure out what you can cook with zero food in the fridge or stressing over running out of time. Make your game plans when you have free time, so that when the time comes to enact it, you don't have to think twice about it.


Prioritize.

I know, all the bloggers say this, but that's because it's true. Prioritizing is a game changer for time management and is echoed over and over, not because people are unoriginal for thinking of time management tricks, but because it's a fool-proof strategy that always works. I like to prioritize in terms of deadlines, I always do the things that are due first and then I do the things that I have more time on second. I'm pretty sure that most people prioritize this way, but it's also great to prioritize in order of importance. For example, I always prioritize schoolwork over blogging, so when I get home, instead of writing a blog post that should go up the next day, I do the homework that has the same deadline, because it's more important to me. (Trying to balance blogging with schoolwork? Here's some tips!) Your time is precious, so attack the things that are worth your time first and then move on to the things that are "nice to have" second. Some people also choose to prioritize by doing the small, easy to finish, tasks first, since they like seeing things disappear from their to-do list. This is great if the amount of work that you have in front of you seems daunting, because you see all of these potential stress factors fade away. Some people like to do a mix of a few prioritization forms. Figure out with form of prioritization works best for you, because it all depends on personal preference.

Step away from long-term distraction factors.

What classifies as a long-term distraction factor? By this, I mean things like Netflix, that will plague your thoughts often. While I love Netflix, things like TV shows can really divert your attention from your responsibilities. What TV shows do is they hook you and draw you in, so that you need to keep watching. Let's put it this way. Let's say that you're doing great on all of your responsibilities, so you take a break to watch an episode of Breaking Bad. Forty five minutes later, you click the next episode. And then the next. Before you know it, you're caught in this vicious cycle. Whenever you go to start doing work, you think about what might happen on the next episode, and are tempted to watch the next one to find out. If I know that I'm going to have a busy week ahead of me, I try to find a good stopping place on a show or finish the season so that I don't have to think about the show anymore. If you're tempted by things like TV shows often, you might want to spend your break times doing things that are a bit more short-term, like watching a YouTube video or watching a movie, things that end, so that you're not constantly thinking about them. 

Make social plans in advance instead of at the last minute.

When we talk responsibilities, we sometimes forget the social lives are a part of time management. Like how you want to save some time for yourself, it's also great to put some time aside for spending time with friends and/or family. One thing that my friends do often is that they wait until the last minute to make social plans or they don't finalize the details until the night before. If you make social plans ahead of time, you're able to plan your game plan of work around it. It's basically a way that you can put the time aside. While I know that it's important to set time aside for friends, I need to know what exact time I need to save for my social plans. By planning social events ahead of time, it's an indicator for what I need to take into consideration while arranging my schedule. In addition, waiting until the last minute does nothing but cause unnecessary stress. I don't need to waste my time stressing over the fact that my friends haven't decided on a solid time for brunch yet or they haven't picked a place to eat at the night before. Instead, I can have them finalized before and know exactly when and where the plans will take place.

So when it's you against all your responsibilities, it's not impossible to rise victorious. It is possible to do it all without getting too stressed. The secret to your success is not just these tips, but it's also having the motivation and the will for everything. If you don't put in the effort to try and manage your time well or you only do things halfway, then you're not truly succeeding. At the end of the day, it's all about how much you care about succeeding. As long as you're putting your all into everything that you do, you can be the winner against your stack of responsibilities. When you have a million things to do, the only thing you can do is keep your chin up and smile as you attack that to-do list. It doesn't have to feel like it's you against everything else. And since freezing time doesn't exist, I'll just have to stretch the time that I have, whether it means I'm doing work, appreciating myself, fulfilling my passions, enjoying time with friends and family, or living my life to the fullest.
I'm going to to make the most with the time that I have, value every second of it. 
And that time starts now. 

6 comments:

  1. I absolutely loved this post! Such great advice, definitely a reminder I needed as I start my freshman year of college.

    Ashley // MyWellDressedLife.com

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    1. Ahh good luck! The high school to college transition is definitely tricky, hope that this advice will help you out as much as you can to make the transition just a tiny bit easier!
      Rebecca

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  2. Great advice! Setting a bedtime is super important. Sleep is key to being productive :)

    Blessings,
    Edye | Http://gracefulcoffee.wordpress.com

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    1. Hope that the advice comes in handy! We just don't value sleep enough!
      Rebecca

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  3. Oh my gosh, I love this! Junior year was super stressful for me last year but one thing I learned is the importance of setting aside one weekend day to be homework free as well as having different things that are completely homework free "zones" in my life (for me, it's Pure Barre classes and nannying!). Good luck this year!

    xoxo,
    Katie
    chicincarolina.blogspot.com

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    1. Homework free zones are the best! That's a great idea for keeping balanced!
      Rebecca

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