Thursday, November 29, 2018

How I Balance It All

Sharing this post now seems funny because I am at one of those points where I don’t necessarily feel like I am doing the best job of balancing it all. While I’m not going to discount that I’m able to juggle various responsibilities well, I definitely could be doing a better job with some things currently. For instance, instead of planning out all the text for blog posts in advance, this week I’ve been waking up early so that I can finish (and in some cases start) a post so that I have something to go live.

The short answer to “how can I balance it all?” is that you can’t. Inevitably one area (if not more) is going to be sacrificed, and part of juggling multiple responsibilities is learning when it is ok to do less. This is something I’ve only just recently figured out. 

In college, I stayed busy. From taking on leadership roles in my sorority and constantly bopping from meeting to meeting with that and spending hours away from campus each week getting student teaching hours at schools in the area to finding time to get my school work done, hang out with friends, and attempt to run a blog I had a lot going on. Post-grad wasn’t much difference with a full-time teaching job, taking master’s courses at night, and still trying to remain consistent on Prep In Your Step. Now, with less on my plate (albeit a full-time job, adjusting to a new city/making friends, and blogging) I finally understand that through all of those experiences juggling so many different things something was always sacrificed (usually my sleep). The balance I’ve found in Birmingham has been much better than it was in college and even in my first-year post-grad but I’m better about knowing that I can’t do it all. I wouldn’t change the sense of busy I had in college and am thankful that through those experiences I learned some important time management tips to help me better balance all that needed to be done. Now if only I could be better about putting these into practice after I get home from work and working out instead of wanting to curl up and watch Christmas movies on the couch. 

Make To-Do Lists and Prioritize

The drawer full of notebooks I stockpiled when I was younger makes a lot of sense now due to my love of making to-do list. It’s rare that I don’t have some sort of piece of paper or list going in my planner with all of the things I need to do in a day. Like a normal person I put down the big ones, but I also put down basic daily things like showering or responding to emails in an attempt to feel like I’ve accomplished more during the day and give me momentum to keep tackling the other items on the list. My friends make fun of it for me when they actually see my lists, but it works! 

Beyond just making the lists, I prioritize them as well. When writing down my to-do list in my planner, I try to treat the list as non-negotiable tasks that need to be done on a specific day. If something can wait a day or two, then that task will be written on that particular day. Within my to-do list on especially busy days sometimes I’ll number the tasks in the order it makes sense for me to accomplish them. I try to start with a couple of easy/fast tasks that I can cross off and then move onto the bigger more time-consuming to-dos. Doing this allows me to stay on track with what I want to get done meaning I am more likely to balance the different things I’m attempting to juggle.

Figure Out When (and Where) You Work Best
No matter your age the sooner you figure this out, the better. I can pretty much guarantee that your bed first thing in the morning is not the time or place where you’re going to be most productive as sad as that may be. In college, there was a particular cubicle upstairs and downstairs that. I relied on when I really need to crank things out. I even went to that downstairs library cube when I had a timed edit test for an interview stage of the job I currently work. There was something about that space that told my brain it was time to get down to business. 

As for time, I know that I am so much more productive in the morning. Because of that, I would much rather set my alarm earlier to be able to get most of my big tasks done before lunchtime and my 3:00 slump occurs. While I have learned how to force myself to work at various times and in different settings, I know that if I really need to work on something, I should plan to do it in a spot outside of my home (usually a coffee shop) in the morning. 

Get Ahead When You Can
This is where I’ve fallen behind lately. Last year out of necessity I would try to get all of my blog posts done over the weekend since I knew there would be no way I’d want to come home from a long day of teaching to sit down and write a post when all I wanted to do was shut my brain off. While I’ve done this on some weekends, lately weekends have been spent hanging out with friends, exploring Birmingham, and relaxing instead. 

I tend to feel like my life is much more together when I am working ahead (even if it’s just a day or two) so I’m hoping that I can get back in the routine of getting ahead so that I can better balance and make time for last minute things that come up. 

In college, I know this can be tricky since you constantly have things that need to be done for various classes, but even allotting yourself 20 minutes a day to get ahead when making a study guide or studying for a test can make all the difference the night before. 

Learn to Say No
Hi, my name is Dorothy, and I’m a people pleaser. Because of that, learning to say no is a CHALLENGE. I never want to disappoint anyone, and will often times go out of my way to make things easier for someone else. This often leads to me sacrificing my time and energy in unnecessary ways. Prioritize what makes you happy and say yes to those things. I promise you’ll still be invited to different things even when you’ve said “no” once. If you don’t have time, saying “yes” is only going to stress you out so avoid that reality by unapologetically saying “no” when you need to.

Set Goals
Balancing a lot of things can be overwhelming and feel like it is not worthwhile at times, especially when you’re stressed. Take time to occasionally set goals when it comes to the different things you’re doing to remind yourself that the activities you choose all have a purpose. Don’t neglect to set goals for simple things like sleeping or seeing friends as well since those things can make a difference too!
My near future goals with blogging include finishing gift guides, planning out holiday content in advance, and spending time creating new styled photos for Instagram and upcoming blog posts. All of these goals are very do-able if I set my mind to it. 

dress (wearing M, also comes in burnt orange) // green bag // hoops // watch // bracelets ( 1 & 2 ) // gold bracelet (similar)

I’d love to know what other tips y’all may have when it comes to balancing various different tasks.

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