As a young woman with college graduation on the horizon, I’m pushed and pulled in many directions. The culture in college affirms that stress and being overworked is normal. Planning to stay healthy and productive during this time is totally possible, it just takes intention. Today I wanted to share with you, my experience with planning for personal sustainability during a busy time.
In a recent thesis class meeting my teacher let us out early, stating that if we were anything like him, we had pulled an all-nighter finishing our draft. This was true for some people in the class, and, if that’s your work style, go for it. My point here is that overwork is the expected norm in college. This expectation does not work for me. I’ve created a thesis writing and editing schedule that is sustainable for myself, it allows me to do such things as go to bed early and read books for pleasure, I highly recommend it.
Before you x out of this tab thinking I’m a total weirdo, hear me out. It’s taken me 3 ½ - 4 years of college to realize what I really need to sustain my energy through a semester. It’s never perfect, I’m always dragging my feet at the end, but it really helps. I wanted to talk about this with my female millennials today because I know how much is expected of us, and I want to share the idea that there is a way to create a sustainable life.
Here are my techniques that help me stay focused for the long term:
Plan ahead: That syllabus you get at the beginning of the semester? It’s a game changer when used to your advantage. I gather all of my syllabi together and make a master syllabus with all of the assignments due over the course of the semester in one place, breaking down what has to get done each week. It helps keep me on track and feel less overwhelmed. If I stick to the plan and follow through each week, it all gets done in the end!
Use visuals: Having a white board to get out the ideas and plans in my head is critical for me the last month of the semester. I create a little box for each day and fill in what I have to do each day to finish, it helps me stay focused.
Schedule time for friends: If it’s once a week for coffee, or a hike once a month, plan something to look forward to with the people that keep you grounded, it's healing.
Schedule days off: I know, this one seems nearly impossible. In the month of April, I think I only got 1 or 2 full days off because of the nature of my schedule, but those days helped sustain me to finish school through May. I also have a week coming up in May where I’ll get to do absolutely nothing so that's something to look forward to!
Here are my techniques to slow down in the middle of meeting a long term goal, so I can still find downtime to rejuvenate:
taking a bath
reading a fiction book
watching a movie/tv
exercise, yoga & meditation
reading blogs or watching youtube videos about slow living
listening to podcast or books on tape
going for a hike/spending time in nature
taking the time to moisturize my skin (a game changer in Colorado!)
These are pretty obvious ones, but they are my go to’s for staying well during the semester. What are yours?
Today, the day that I’m editing and publishing this post, I have a long to-do list. Finish editing my thesis, write a six-page paper, post this to ASA, the list goes on. It’s going to be a long one today; but, I’m sitting at my desk where I’ve taken the time this morning to eat a nice breakfast, do some stretching, have a cup of tea, and now I’m here, ready to go. The temptation to cram myself into work as soon as I wake up is there, but I try to regard it with some love and then get into my morning routine before I work.
What is reasonable to schedule for yourself? With today, for instance, there were 1,000 things I wanted to do, but some had to get cut to prioritize time sensitive work. What are the things you need to do today to continue to feel like your best self, today, tomorrow, and the days that follow? What we do today matters, even if it's a very busy time in life, don’t forget to take care.
Speaking of taking care, May will be a very busy month for me. After graduation, it will be my first time out of school in 22 years (wowza!). I’ll be taking the rest of May off from posting content here, but I’ll be working on exciting things behind the scenes to come back at the end of May with so stay tuned! You can hangout with me on Instagram to keep up with what I’m doing throughout May @asimplealternative