The past few months have been some of the busiest I can remember, and looking back, I’m glad that I figured out when to cut back and when to still say yes. In September, I was working full-time, working part-time in retail, freelancing, apartment searching and preparing to move, wrestling with some personal decisions, and oh, trying to maintain a social life and workout routine! There were also extra things that, sure, I didn’t have to do but still wanted to do—helping edit a good friend’s business school essays and working with a woman from my church who wants to redesign her living room, for example. During this busy time, I did a lot of self-reflection and came away with a few points, which I’ll share below:
1) Understand what you want to prioritize. I think one of the biggest things I realized is that everyone prioritizes differently, and what might make sense for you would absolutely drive someone else insane. Take this example: even when I’m super busy, I still make an effort to be plugged in to my phone and social media. And this isn’t because I’m “better” at staying on top of these things than other people—it’s because honestly, I feel more overwhelmed if I don’t do these things! I hate feeling behind and out of the loop, and by texting with friends, checking Facebook, and watching an Instagram story or two, I actually feel a little more sane (call me crazy). For other people, workouts may be a top priority (and I really should be in this camp, because working out does so much for me mentally). And then there’s another set of people who may thrive on social things like events and happy hours after work in order to stay grounded (whereas I rarely do social activities during the week because it makes me feel too exhausted!).
2) Saying “I don’t have time” isn’t always going to cut it. Going along with the above, I’ve learned that there will always be time for things if you make them a priority. Whenever I tell my mom something like, “Ugh, if I just had more time, I’d finally be able to start that book I’ve always wanted to write,” she’ll remind me that if that was truly a priority of mine, I would’ve found a way to start. Harsh, but kind of true.
3) Planning ahead is your friend, as is keeping up with a hobby. This next point isn’t anything groundbreaking, but I’ll keep it on here anyway. I’ve been able to stay on top of blogging by scheduling posts several days in advance. I often feel a creative streak coming on and am able to crank out post after post and then schedule them for the next few days (even weeks). However, blogging in general is a lot of fun for me and a big stress reliever, so it truly doesn’t feel like a chore! As a related point, I’m a firm believer in keeping some things purely as hobbies. Just because I love interior design, for example, doesn’t mean I need to pursue it professionally (at least for now). My friends who run 5k’s and marathons don’t need to drop everything and become professional runners (this is an example I use a lot when people ask me why I don’t just work in the design field!). Having a hobby can be a great distraction from day-to-day expectations and pressures.
4) It’s ok to cut something out of your life. I loved my part-time job, but it was meant to be more of a summer commitment for when I had shorter hours at work. I really enjoyed the social aspect and the extra cash, but after awhile, I realized I valued my catch-up time on weekends more. Since I don’t enjoy cramming a ton of activities into the work week (although I’ve definitely been doing this lately for whatever reason), weekends are truly my social/errand/workout/sleep in/freelance/blog/family time. As a result, I decided to quit my part-time job in order to have a little more “me time.” While I hate saying “no” to anything, it was the right decision for me.
How do you stay grounded during particularly busy times? I’d love any additional advice!