This isn’t an interview, or scientific research, or me babbling on about my fascination with a psychological improvement technique… it’s more of a conclusion I have come to over my years of observing the way people act and taking note of what goes on inside my own mind. I think our perception of time is really messed up.
The main reason I think this is because I have fallen victim to this misperception over and over again. I think I won’t have enough time, so I start stressing, or I cancel plans, or I become so rigid because I need to stick to my schedule and my flexibility becomes limited. This is not the ideal way to live. Over the past couple months, I’ve realized that I need to chill out. Because I’ve become aware of the pattern. Don’t think I have enough time – stress – realize I totally had enough time. Don’t think I have enough time – stress – realize I totally had enough time. Repeat.
And then there is the other end of the spectrum. You think you have enough time, but all of a sudden you run out of time and you are always running late and you never feel as if you are in control of your daily life. I’ve been fortunate enough to not experience this problem because I am a bit extremist with my scheduling, but I’ve seen a lot of people struggle with being perpetually late. If you are one of these people, and you are at peace with it – then there is no need to change! But if you are one of these people and you feel a little bit lost and out of control, then hopefully some of the things I am about to talk about can benefit you.
First, I want to start with what I’ve been doing recently to be more flexible. As I mentioned in my last post, I have started asking many more questions. By doing this, I realize that I am overthinking EVERYTHING. The most beneficial question to me in this situation is – what happens if you don’t get everything done in time today?
And I have found that this answer has given me a lot of peace:
If I don’t get everything done today, I will make some sacrifices tomorrow in order to get back on track.
And ultimately, I have had to make very few sacrifices, because I always have more time than I think I have. If I grant myself to chance to at least try to see if I can get it all done, I usually can. The problem is when I don’t even try. In the past, if I had to write a paper and my friend wanted to hang out – I would usually say I couldn’t because I had to write a paper. But in all reality, I had like eight hours still left in the day. I could write the paper for one and hang out for seven, OR I could bring my computer to my friend’s house and write it there. The worst case scenario is that the paper does not get written and if that is the case I write it tomorrow and sacrifice hanging out with people tomorrow. (This situation only works if the paper is NOT due tomorrow – if you have a paper due tomorrow, WRITE IT.) I’d say 90% of the time, it all works out. I hangout AND write the paper.
And be conscious of how much time you have until your due date, too. This goes for homework, but it can also go for many other things. I tend to be the opposite of a procrastinator; when I get an assignment I want to finish it NOW, even if it is due in three weeks. Or, even with college applications. Yes, I want to work on my college applications now, but if they are due in three months and my friend wants to hang out, I need to remember that I am sure I will be able to find time in the future to work on it.
This mindset really works for me because I am extreme. I admit it, ask any of my closest friends. However, if you are already a procrastinator do NOT use this mindset because it might make you procrastinate more. This works for people like me – people who don’t think they have enough time when they completely do. And I’ve made this promise to myself: if I start falling behind I will revert back to my extreme ways, because it is important to me to get things done that need to be done. If you’re like me, feel free to make that promise to yourself. You don’t have to commit to any lifestyle. Do what brings you the most success and happiness.
And this thought has helped me as well: I should focus on being productive. So, to ensure that I am not wasting any time in my day (because that might contribute to me falling behind), I make it a goal to always be productive and always do things that benefit myself. If I am 100% productive throughout the day and managing my time well and I STILL don’t get everything done, I can go to bed happy because I had a successful day.
Now, some of you might be reading this and thinking: that sounds nothing like me. You could be the complete opposite, where you are running from thing to thing and you always feel like you have more time than you have but you truly don’t. Life might seem a little jumbled.
And my best advice to you comes in one word:
My planner has saved my life. It is my best friend. I use a digital planner because it is so much easier to carry around my phone versus always making sure I have a book with me. The app is called Planner Pro – and it’s free!
It allows me to write tasks, notes, and events. I use tasks as my to-do list and put in any events I have as well. Sometimes I use notes, but usually, it is tasks and events. I also can prioritize my tasks. A1 is always homework, and it pops up at the top of my list. B1 is things I need to get done today, and C1 is things I need to get done but I don’t have to necessarily do them today; I just need to get them done in the near future.
You don’t have to love your planner like I do, but I highly suggest using one. In my opinion, it frees up SO much mental space. You don’t have to remember everything because you can write it down!
Paper planners work great as well, but I have tried paper planners and concluded that an app format is best for me. You can see what works best for you 🙂
But remember, even if you have the best planner in the world, it only works if you are consciously using your time wisely and getting things done. If you feel like you never have enough time in a day and are unable to complete the tasks you want to complete, review your day. How much time did you spend watching TV? How much time did you spend on social media? How much time did you spend wasting? There is so much hidden time in our day. If you need to send a text to someone, do it while you’re in line at the grocery store. If you need to study for history, do it while you’re watching that movie that doesn’t matter in chemistry. I know teachers might not agree with that advice, but seriously, there is so much downtime in school that people don’t take advantage of. When you find yourself not doing anything or scrolling mindlessly on your phone, ask yourself if there is something you can be getting done.
And my other piece of advice is – don’t be afraid to say no. I think one of the problems with people who overschedule themselves is due to the fact that they said yes to too many things. Don’t get me wrong, I think humans can handle way more than they think they can, so I encourage saying yes! But there gets to be a tipping point. If you know you already have something planned, or you have homework due tomorrow, or there is an urgency to get something done… let yourself know it is okay to make sacrifices. Sometimes, selfishness is needed.
If you are a worrier, a procrastinator, or somewhere in the middle, I encourage you to do some self-reflecting and see what you need to work on. If you feel overwhelmed on a regular basis, odds are that you can improve on something.
I am truly grateful that you took the time to read this post. 😉 Thank you!