I've had my mind on this blog post, hoping to share with you how I'm learning to balance time off while staying relaxed, productive, and well-rested.....I'm sure everyone has had a summer or two where can almost feel your brain frying from all the TV you're watching.
If you're like me or any other college student, you're thankful it's summer! No tests, no deadlines, sleeping in... it's awesome. Though it is time off, that doesn't mean everything needs to go down the chute. Making some goals, short-term and long-term are essential for staying motivated, focused, but having time reserved for yourself.
STEP 1: Start a Schedule
While making my schedule at my two jobs this summer, I knew I needed at least two full "free days" each week for it to truly feel like summer. I left those as Sundays and Mondays- they're right next to each other and allow enough time for an overnight trip out of town, and give me time to focus on family and God. The rest of my week Tuesday-Saturday is back-and-forth between jobs. I do have at least two-five hours a day in the morning or evenings where I can read, get together with friends, or edit photos.
STEP 2: To-Do List
Organization for me used to be simply sorting my binder and cleaning my room. Since last semester though, my life revolved around my To-Do List. Trust me from experience, when you have 3 jobs and take 18 hours in one semester (14 of which are online) it requires a lot of self- motivation... and, most of all, planning. My 'Notes' app on my iPhone literally organizes my life.
When taking classes online, the work either gets done, or it doesn't. In most cases, you can view yourself as the teacher. It's up to you to do the readings, blog posts, discussion forums, assignments, and tests all on time and correctly. No pressure. ;) During this past hectic semester online, each class I kept listed on a designated 'note' with what assignments were due and when. If I learned anything from this semester, it's time management and self motivation skills.
"Balancing some serious projects with some fun plans are what makes things manageable."
If you get in the habit of "ToDoing", you'll experience the most rewarding feeling of taking an item at a time off of your list. It's rather addicting. During the last month of school before finals week stress hit, I made my 'Summer To-Do List'.
Summer is a wonderful time to be productive but at your own pace. I've had a good handful of days that I've slept in but others like last week when I woke up to hike Pinnacle at 8AM. I also have a constant list of small projects to do: apply for internships, work on resumé, clean out closet, craft with Austin etc. Balancing some serious projects with some fun plans are what makes things manageable.
I also learned from online classes that when you find yourself reading the same line on a page for the second time... you're not getting anywhere. But it's okay! Just change subjects. The same goes for things on your To-Do list. If you find yourself on your second hour of cleaning and your brain is drained, move on to a different project. You'll get a lot done on something else and come back to that at a different time. But you're always being productive.
"If your brain is drained after your second hour of
studying for one subject, take a brain-break
and move on to a different project. It will keep you productive."
Step 3: Purchase a Planner (AND USE IT)
As soon as I got my first (and current) job at Ta Molly's five years ago, I had to balance my work schedule, cheer, choir, church, and school. Answer: Planner.
These were before the days of my To-Do List, but it truly was the only thing that kept me fully funcioning. I use a planner to this day despite the option of using the Calendar app on my smartphone. I tend to be a forgetful person (hence my obsessive organizational habits) but the physical act of 'writing it down' increases the likelihood of my remembrance of anything tremendously.
"The physical act of 'writing it down' increases the likelihood of my remembrance of anything tremendously."
Today my To-Do List functions as a lists of tasks I need to accomplish within the next week to a month, while my planner is dedicated to more long term tasks, work schedules, photo-shoots, appointments, assignments... things that have an established deadline. You can see my new planner I purchased from Target last week and my stack of planners that I've kept through the years. It's neat to look back at your schedule, trips, and dates that mean even more to you as the years pass.
I'm currently planning my semester I'll be spending in Europe, so research and organizational
skills are essential for stress-reduced traveling. I'll be making future posts about how to plan your travels according to time, importance, and what you can afford. Who said being a little obsessively organized was a bad thing?
Until next time!