Last week, we talked about the importance of budgeting your money. This week, we’re talking about time, which is in many ways, just like money—you can invest it, you can waste it, and you can choose where to spend it (most the time, anyway). I wasn’t always great at budgeting my time. It took a lot of work, trying out different things, and reevaluating my priorities to get to a point where I can pretty comfortably say that I can effectively manage my time. Of course, I’m always shifting and changing my approach as my life changes, but here are some of the strategies that have helped me minimize the amount of time I spend stressing and allowed me to maximize the time I spend doing the things I want:
If it’s not an "OMG YES!", it’s a no: I use this to simplify my decisions. If I’m not hyped about going somewhere, I simply don’t go. Of course, there are situations when this isn’t feasible and times when I don’t always follow this guideline successfully, but 95% of the time, I make the conscious choice to never sign up for something that I know isn’t going to add value to my life. Life is too short to waste precious hours doing things simply for the sake of “appearances”.
Remind yourself that there are no “overnight successes”: It's so easy to look at successful people and think they just woke up one morning with their life figured out. The truth is, they've been putting in hours, in many cases for years and years, to get to the point they’re at now. It’s really easy to think that you’re missing out when you’re stuck in the library on a Friday night and everyone else is out enjoying themselves, but success comes with sacrifices. It doesn’t mean that you become a social recluse, but it does mean that you might have to miss out on somethings. I try to remember that most successful people have had to make the same choice—it’s part of the journey.
Cultivate friendships with people who respect your decisions: Surrounding myself with people who respect how I choose to spend my time is one of the most important choices I've made. It’s so much easier to spend a night in the library when your friends aren’t trying to talk you out of it. For many first-gen students, much of college is spent playing catch up and trying to figure it all out. That might mean spending more time in help room or staying in on the weekend—these choices are made easier by having people who will bring you a cup of coffee when you’re pulling a late night, rather than trying to convince you to go out.
Try becoming a morning person: Hear me out on this one. As a reformed night owl, I can attest to how much this has changed my quality of life. There is so much time in a day, we simply don’t make good use of it. Try it for one day and really commit to it. See how much you can get done if you really focus. Worst case scenario, you decide it’s just not for you and that’s totally okay!
Adopt a morning routine: In high school I used to get up at the last possible minute, rush through my morning, and get to school in a semi-dazed state that wouldn’t fully go away until about 11 a.m. I hated the feeling. Now that I’ve gotten used to waking up earlier, I make sure to leave enough time for me to run through a morning routine that gets me geared up and ready to conquer the day. My routine is always evolving depending on my environment and the tasks I have to complete each day, but I try to leave myself enough time to not feel rushed. If I’ve left enough time for myself in the morning, I feel less constrained by the "must-do" tasks the rest of the day.
I could write a whole separate post on the value of a morning routine, but for now, best of luck and carpe diem!