I’ve made some big changes in my life over the past year. Well, they might not seem big to others, because the biggest change that happened is on the inside, but it has meant the world to me.
I used to feel tired and anxious all the time. It’s amazing what a difference small habits can make.
Last year’s autumn was a pretty stressful time, as I moved to a new apartment and started a new job.
On top of studying I worked part-time, which provided for a hectic Monday to Friday, and on the weekends I was furniture shopping. Then, in the spring, I had some big projects. I wrote my Bachelor’s thesis and did a consulting job for a company, while still working part-time, taking a couple of other courses, and doing extracurriculars.
Thank heavens, the summer was calm.
For the most part, I stayed in one place, with the exception of two lovely trips, to Japan and Greece. There was work most of the time but less juggling. I started sleeping much better – having less stuff going on made me healthier.
After this year I’m grateful for everything that’s happened because I’ve learned so much. One of the most important lessons was learning to prioritize how I use my time.
to decide which of a group of things are the most important so that you can deal with them first (source)
In a perfect world, there would be no need to prioritize. You would be able to lose yourself in the things you love, without paying the price of being behind on deadlines and being seriously sleep deprived.
I love so many things:
- taking on challenges
- trying new things
- meeting people
- having a clean apartment
- cooking my own food
- watching Netflix
- reading books
All of these things take time, and I struggle to say no sometimes, both to others and myself.
Make believe vs. reality
In the real world, you have to be realistic. You have to get shit done and you have to take care of yourself.
Because what happens when you don’t?
You get overwhelmed. You get exhausted. Your life is a mess. Nothing seems that fun anymore and it makes you question yourself: should it really be like this, running from place to place, never feeling good?
Also, if you want to make some kind of progress in life, like achieving a dream, it isn’t enough to just do the bare necessities.
So I’ve learned that I have to think before doing something. I ask myself – what do I get out of this? Is it useful, like advancing in work/studies, or making money? Is it fun, relaxing and good for me? Or does it get me closer to my goals?
If the answer to these questions is no, it’s likely that I’m doing it to make someone else happy.
We have to learn to put ourselves first. Remember, we don’t owe most people anything, and we probably overestimate how much they need our help.
What I did next
Nowadays, sleep is my number one priority. Without it, I’m unproductive/a zombie/in a truly bad mood.
Technically, getting more sleep hasn’t saved me time, but it has made me more efficient. I’ve also cut back on entertainment. Honestly, I don’t really miss it that much, and I find that I enjoy it more when I actually do watch some of my favorite shows.
I don’t do as much extracurricular stuff at my uni anymore. Even though that has been super fun for the past years, at this point I need to focus on studying and working.
With my studying, I have taken on fewer courses. I don’t procrastinate like I used to, and I plan ahead so I won’t be in trouble when the exam week approaches.
At work, I use prioritization when it feels overwhelming. I’ll write a to do list and then go over it, numbering the tasks in order of priority, which usually means that the first task is the one I want to do the least. After completing the first couple of things I feel much more in control already.
Both in work and in my personal life I say no more often. I still do favors and nice things for others, but only if it doesn’t clash with my priorities. Also, I have learned to combine tasks more, like going to the grocery store right after work, instead of making a separate trip. It only means a bit more planning ahead.
This autumn, my life will have
- less procrastination, more getting stuff done
- less uncertainty, more asking for help
- less mindless binge watching, more quality Netflix time
- less cooking, more making large batches
- less scrolling on the phone, more putting it away
Finally, the best thing you can do for yourself is demanding less.
Everything doesn’t have to be perfect. Your life doesn’t have to be under control in every single aspect. You’re doing the best you can, and that’s all anyone can do. Forgive yourself when you fail, then try again.