This is my fourth draft of this post. Let’s see if I publish it.
When I hit certain points during my time as a student I panic and think I have to do all the things. I did just that in my final year of college by doing two casual jobs and several volunteering jobs alongside my education. It’s crazy, I know. I said I’m never doing that much again because it was draining and my grades and happiness suffered. I juggled too many tasks just to feel like I was ‘enough’.
During my first year of university I decided to never do that again and just focus on my education and work during my long breaks off. That worked for two years. Now it’s third year and I am doing the thing I said I should stop doing – overworking. Maybe it’s a fear of not doing enough with my time and a fear of regretting not saying yes to opportunities. Maybe I do not want to look back on my time as a student and think “I wish I was involved in more extra curricular activities”.
I carefully planned my summer to try and make third year as stress free as possible. I moved back home and worked at my old job. I organised my research for my dissertation and read the books I was studying for the upcoming semester. I was incredibly lucky and volunteered in the Lake District at an organisation relevant to my degree. Surely that is more than enough, right? Apparently not.
As soon as September arrived I was applying for every job I saw advertised and applying for volunteering jobs. I freaked out and decided I needed to do everything this year. I knew this was a silly idea but I justified it by saying I would only work for a short period of time then I can chill in semester two and just focus on my studies and applying for postgraduate courses. It’s semester two and that has not happened. I have managed to burn out before my classes have even started and it is inevitable it will happen again at some point during the semester.
I think writing all of this down will help as a reminder to stop overworking and prioritise what is important to me, which at the moment is my degree.
This is what I want to do:
- Take breaks. It sounds really simple but I actually struggle to do this. This year I am not allowing myself to eat and work. If I am eating my lunch or my tea, I have to stop working.
- Only work between certain times of the day. This is something I will have to work on and I know I cannot always stick to it if I have a lot of deadlines. I want to try and work during reasonable hours and after a certain point stop and leave work for the day. I have a bad habit of working long hours when I do not need to and it does not benefit me in any way. Although I finish the day thinking I can relax more the next day, I still do the same amount of work the next day regardless. Setting my self a time frame might help me complete tasks quicker and more efficiently.
- Do a few things well rather than many things poorly. Another one I really need to work on. This year I need to prioritise what matters the most and what makes me happy. Basically, I need to be brave and say no to opportunities I know I do not have the time to do.
- Stay Organised. I’m pretty good at this and want to keep it up. I bought an hour-by-hour journal to organise my days and it is really helpful. I dedicate certain times for certain tasks, for example one afternoon I will only work on my dissertation and another I will only work on the seminar prep for one of my modules. This has stopped me from being overwhelmed by all the things I have to do.
- Write a list of my achievements that day. I always feel guilty if I haven’t been productive. I want to write lists of what I have done to stop me feeling guilty when I try to relax. Even if it is just cleaning the house or sending an email, I am still being productive.
I know a lot of people worry about trying to get enough work done during the day and I hope this list can be a reminder not to burn out. I think it’s easy to convince yourself to try and complete every task at once but it is not realistic. It is important to manage your time and make room for relaxation.