So – I’m developing something of an intrapersonal super-power.
I learned a very, very, very valuable lesson from my first go on the University merry-go-round – I must say “No” more often than I’d prefer to.
Here’s the fastest way to drain your physical, mental and emotional reserves:
+ All your contact hours: tutorials, lectures, etc.
+ Attend group meetings, discuss course content and assessment tasks
+ Make and organize your lecture and workshop notes
+ Make time to spend with friends outside of uni, maintain your relationships generally
+ Fulfill family obligations, whether that includes care of younger siblings, your own children or your parents
+ Eat nice healthy food, also get some exercise and get enough sleep.
+ If applicable, get ready for, go to and wind down from your shifts at work.
+ Deal with any crises that come flying at you from out of the blue while keeping all these other balls in the air.
Feeling overwhelmed yet?
There is no doubt that time management is a massive part of staying hale and hearty while studying at university. I reckon managing stress and self-expectations are just as important. If, like me, you’ve already completed two or three of your assessment tasks for the semester, you already know that juggling commitments and prioritizing tasks is kind of a big deal. Before I start preaching the word of self-care, I want to share with you the best habit I ever learned:
When you start feeling really overwhelmed by clashing commitments, or a pending assignment, give yourself 5 minutes (seriously, set an alarm on your phone) to have a real I Cannot Deal! Moment. When time’s up, move on! Dedicating a small slice of time to acknowledge your own feelings and reactions allows you to move onto more productive tasks. I find that doing this circumvents my untrained process: feel gradually more anxious and overwhelmed over a number of hours while half-attempting anything resembling a productive action. Wait until you have some quiet time to consider what extra commitments you can realistically maintain with your workload + down time + part-time work + relationships.
Even with the best intentions, sometimes we have to say “no” to things we’ve already said “yes” to. Nobody is perfect, things outside of our control will go wrong at the most inopportune moment, and we will trip up from time to time – it’s okay.
As for self care: it’s pretty much what it says on the tin.
I’m a big fan, not only because it’s often the most enjoyable part of average-to-tough days, but it involves things I practice to keep my depression symptoms calm, to stay connected with my self and better function in hectic times.
Building up a self-care kit is a rewarding process. Become a squirrel, stash playlists of songs that make you dance, group excellent and beautiful images into a slideshow. You could write a list of excellent things, local places you have yet to explore, take a photo of yourself in your favourite outfits or get a haircut.
In conclusion, time spent being kind to yourself is time well spent.
How do you look after #1?
Listen: Podcast series: Life Habits – available at http://www.lifehabits.net/ and iTunes (Check out LH34 – Work-Life Balance, LH38 – Designing Your Life, LH47 – Teamwork and LH2 – Time Management.)