Today we’re going to discuss the importance of choosing your priorities, and the dangers of over-scheduling yourself. Let’s start with some backstory. Last quarter, I agreed to teach four labs at the local university. This resulted in me working a full eight-hour day at my day job and then teaching another 3 hours. Then I had to find time to prep for my lectures and grade the lab reports. It became apparent very quickly that I had over-committed myself. I didn’t even have time to eat. I was drinking bottles of Soylent while I was teaching for “dinner”.
Recognizing that you’ve over-extended yourself and figuring out where you can cut back is an important skill to develop. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how I was going to juggle all of the commitments that I had made to myself and to others over these last few months. After an exhausting first week, when I was averaging 14-hour days, I had to make the tough choice and give up something.
People will sometimes give up on their personal life and recovery time first. This is a dangerous step to take. Cutting out that time with friends or hobbies removes the fun from your life. It can burn you out faster and amplify the stress and anxiety you feel when you are overwhelmed. Always make time for yourself and your relationships. Humans are social creatures, and neglecting your relationships, including the one you have with yourself, can be severely detrimental to your wellbeing in general, and your productivity. You can only keep going for so long before you’ll be too tired, both physically and emotionally, to function to your full potential. Self-care is really important to keeping your brain nimble and your productivity high.
Over the last few months, I basically stopped reading, writing, using social media, and doing other things for this blog. I decided that I could start these things back up after the quarter ended. And here I am jumping back into the race. Some things I did during my hiatus to maintain my mental and emotional health was schedule date nights with my husband and Solo date nights with myself. I started watching funny Youtube videos to unwind and relax with a bit of humor in my downtime. I made special playlists of my favorite music. I tried to have weekly hang outs with friends. I did many things in my attempt to keep myself sane and productive when I had really overbooked myself. It’s important to carve out time for that self-care.
I will still keep working on growing and getting better every day, but I’m glad that I had this experience to force me to reflect on how I overcommit myself and how I can do a better job in the future taking care of myself, my space, my relationships, and my time. Some of the things that I’m going to continue to do even though I have more free time is scheduling solo date nights and date nights with my partner. These things are a great way to make sure I take care of those most important to me, including myself. Additionally, I’ve started a new morning and evening routine to better take care of my body and my mind. I’m working on exercising regularly, eating breakfast, and packing a homemade lunch. These things will allow me to be a better partner to my husband and a better host to my body. Take care of yourself first, then prioritize your relationships, you could be the most productive person, but without healthy relationships and dedicated self-care, you cannot fulfill your full potential as a human being. Our community and our contribution to other people is how we can truly live a meaningful, healthy life.
In an effort to maintain a better life-balance, I'm going to start posting these big blog post twice a month on the first and third Tuesdays. I hope this will help me maintain a less stressful life and a more realistic pace with my current schedule.