Ah yes, the ever interesting question…
One of the key areas I’m focusing on this school year, is that of finding my limits, of seeing just how much I can cram into my life, of seeing just how that affects me. When I’m productive, I’m happy. But how much can I really get done?
Most days at school, I arrive ~9am, and leave ~9pm, give or take a few hours. This includes three real classes, one class I’m sitting in on (but not paying for or receiving credit for), two on-campus jobs (at the SIM lab and as a Peer Helping Student Coordinator), being the Fine Arts Student Senator on UVic’s Senate (including a temporary turn on the committee for appeals, as they needed me), and acting in four different theatre shows (A SATCo – Three Angry Pigs, an MFA Directing project – This Property is Condemned, a directing scene – from Picnic, and playing Quintus and Aemilius in VSS’s Titus Andronicus). I also did a shift as an SAT exam proctor on the weekend for a novel experience, and hung lights for the SATCos earlier today, for a refresher. Oh, and I’m performing in Theatresports next Sunday. And those are just the bigger items on my agenda.
Here’s a sample week on my calendar:
When I see that page, I don’t feel overwhelmed, I feel organized. In control. And with all that on my plate, for the most part, I’ve found that if I can schedule it, I can make it happen. If it’s something I legitimately want to do, and I can assign it a timeslot in my schedule, then I’ll be there. Except…
Well, the exceptions come as a result of one little side-effect of this schedule: I haven’t been getting enough sleep for the past month
and a half. Consistent seven hour nights. And when I don’t get enough sleep, it’s not that I make the wrong decisions, persay, but rather, that I make the right decision, then ignore what I’ve already chosen until it’s too late to do what I wanted to. My brain still works, but isn’t always successful at kicking me into action.
Tonight, for example, I was looking forward to going to a friend’s birthday party, but also wanted some alone time. The decision was clear – to spend a bit of time at home, then show up to the gathering a little late. Except the ‘bit of time’ grew (without becoming more rewarding), because it’s easier to stay at home than to grab a bus. And because I’m somewhat sleep deprived, laziness won out over the decision I had already made. Sorry Jesse.
Which is really rather funny, because this means I am legitimately complaining about my own laziness, in the midst of that formidable schedule. 🙂
But wouldn’t doing so many things make it hard to focus?
Surprisingly, no! Quite the opposite, in fact!
If I weren’t organized, then yes, I would be juggling too much in my head at once. But I have systems: I write a little agenda every night for the next day, and manage that incredibly useful calendar seen above.
I couldn’t possibly keep all my scheduled opportunities in my head at once, so I trust my systems, which allows me to really focus on each individual task, each item, one by one. Effective single-tasking, not frantic multitasking. I don’t feel stretched at all.
So, Andrew, what have you learned?
What I’m taking from this experience is that, if I get enough sleep (and possibly eat well enough, and have exercise in my life – though those often fall by the wayside as a result of a lack of sleep), my schedule can be filled from sun-up to sun-down, so long as it’s full of activities I find rewarding. My own personal breaking point, my limit, is not in how much ‘free time’ I have each week, but in whether or not I am taking good enough care of myself, physically, to abide by the intelligent decisions and choices I have made.
I’ve also been developing my awareness of when I feel less fulfilled, when I lose a couple of hours on the internet or in a game (when 20 minutes would have done), when a class just isn’t worth my time, or when I back down from a possibility of spending time with excellent people.
Ah, but Andrew, sometime you will just need to bite the bullet and spend a good deal of time on something that ain’t fulfilling.
Do I? Do I really? I mean, maybe you’re right. Graduation’s coming up, and who knows if I’ll swing my way into an awesome and fulfilling job… maybe I’ll be stuck editing company memos somewhere so I can pay rent and student loans… but what if, the magic what if, I don’t? What if I can charm my way into an ever happier, ever more fulfilling life? Ain’t that a possibility too?
For now, I do so love my patchwork quilt of a schedule, and until such a future is forced upon me, I’m going to take my time and enjoy it.
So long as I can get myself enough sleep, that is. 🙂
- How to Reboot Your Sleep Cycle and Get the Rest You Deserve [How To] (lifehacker.com)