Have you ever had a moment where you’ve just wanted to kiss all of your commitments goodbye and run away to a tropical island, or maybe a secluded cabin in the woods (I’ll take the cabin ASAP, please)? If you’re a responsible adult, I’m pretty sure that you can relate to this. Being an adult (“adulting”) is not easy and it is certainly not always fun.
These past few months have been the busiest of my life. I’m in my final semester of school, and next month I will graduate with my Bachelor’s degree in Social Work! Yay! When I started this semester, I knew it was going to be busy but I also thought it would be relatively painless because it’s the LAST one. I was totally wrong. I spend three days a week internining. I work 12 hour shifts at Publix twice a week, and I usually work Saturdays, too. I still have to go to school once a week and I have another online class.
A lot of people are even busier than this. A lot of people have kids and spouses and full-time jobs to worry about. Maybe you’re one of those people. Maybe you have less on your plate but still feel overwhelmed with your commitments. I don’t think it really matters exactly what you’ve got going on. If you find yourself struggling to juggle everything in your life and need a little help, this post is for you!
I have come up with four key strategies that have helped me through this super busy time in my life.
I consider myself to be relatively good at performing the “balancing act” for one reason: I am extremely organized. I think that’s the key to making sure that you don’t forget anything in the midst of the chaos in life. With that organization comes my first two points:
1. Plan out your entire week on Saturday or Sunday
Every Sunday, I actually sit down and fill out this white board for the week! For some people, this might seem a little over-the-top and anal. Please trust me when I say it helps! It takes a little bit of time, but it puts my mind at ease throughout the rest of the week. There is nothing worse than being extremely busy and having to stress about other upcoming events or due dates. When I write everything out and actually schedule myself to work on assignments, I don’t have to worry about them when I’m at work or interning. I know that I won’t miss a due date and that I’ll have enough time to finish the tasks I have in front of me.
On the left side, you can see that I’ve written down all of my assignments for the entire semester. I started doing this last year at the beginning of each semester. I had four classes and I would get so overwhelmed thinking about all of the assignments I had to complete! When I wrote out everything in order by due date, it really put my mind at ease. It helped me to focus only on what was due next so I wouldn’t have to stress about all the assignments that were due further down the road. I like to leave them on my white board and cross them out because it makes me feel accomplished!
I have my Type-A personality to thank for this strategy. I don’t have to worry about if I’m forgetting something and I don’t have to fumble through my school papers to see what’s due. I don’t have to worry that I’ll forget to buy a dress for the wedding I’m going to next week. Some people like using their planners and calendars in their phones and if that works for you, do it! I personally like having everything written out in front of me. I don’t have to go to bed at night and try to make a to-do list in my head because I’ve already made it!
2. Do as much as you can the night before
I’m the type of person who likes to wake up with just enough time to get ready. I hate having a million things to do in the morning. Because of this, I’ll try to get myself ready for the next day at night time. I love making my lunch for the next day so I can just grab it and go in the morning. Also, I’ll put all of my books and folders that I need for interning in my car so I don’t have to lug a thousand things out the door. This also guarantees that I won’t forget anything!
There is nothing worse than starting your day with a stressful, scattered morning. My mornings set the tone for my whole day. Because of that, I make the extra effort the night before to ensure that my mornings go smoothly.
3. Know when to say no.
This is extremely important for everyone. When we get accustomed to being super busy and doing million things, it’s so easy to spread ourselves too thin. I’m so guilty of this.
If I commit to something, I want to commit to it 100%. I want to be able to give it my best. I would rather be committed to three things and do them with excellence than be committed to four or five things and be mediocre.
I’ve had to say no to a lot of things so that I could fully commit to other things. It is not always easy to decide what things are most important and deserve our time.
When I fear that I will be spread too thin, I’ll cut back here and there and see how the week or month goes. If I feel I can take on more, I will. It’s easier to take on less than it is to take on a lot and decide halfway through something that you just don’t have the time.
If possible, keep one day of the week clear! Having no commitments besides church on Sundays is so important for me. That day keeps me sane and gives me a chance to reboot and focus on the people I love and want to spend time with.
4. Accept change
Before I started interning this semester, I would almost always have free time in the morning. I would sit outside with my coffee, put some music on, read my bible, and write. Since January, I honestly have probably been able to do this 2 or 3 times. It really sucks, to be honest. I miss that time a lot.
I’ve tried to recreate that relaxing morning time the best I can. I have a 30 minute drive in the mornings. I’ll bring my coffee in the car and drink it slowly (my favorite way to drink coffee!) and just relax and listen to whatever music I put on. It’s not the same as it used to be, but it’s as close as I can get right now.
I’ve learned to be flexible and just “make it work”. It’s not easy for me, but by accepting that things are different, I’ve found that I’m happier. If I were to focus on the way things used to be and the way I would prefer them to be, I would be resentful of my job and school. That’s not a good way to live! Do what you can with what you have.
Things change a lot when our schedules get busy. By staying organized, being thoughtful with our time, and trying our best to go with the flow with our changing routines, we can make it a lot smoother!
I hope that these tips have helped you!
Maybe you’ll be able to take them and make them work for your life and your schedule! Remember that hard work pays off. There is no better feeling than crossing your “finish line”! It totally makes the long hours and nonstop work worth it.