I hereby declare that I am writing this article out of the need to research some tips for myself, which will also help me to figure out how to make the hours of my day more meaningful. Along with the readers, I also hope to figure out through my research for this article how to wake up in a more upbeat mood and with greater motivation, or how to sleep more soundly, knowing that I have done something throughout the day that has left me feeling fulfilled.
We go to bed every night, thinking of a better, well-organized list of activities that we must accomplish the next day. In our heads, we devise the perfect schedule: Wake up at 7:00, meditate or simply have a quiet coffee at home before heading out, work (productively), lunch, walk the dog, back to work and coffee breaks, yoga classes or post-work gym, homemade dinner, and then a couple of drinks with friends. It sounds all set up, right? Well, at least in our heads, it does.
The next day, upon waking up, we realize that circumstances start to kick in. We snoozed through our alarm, got to work late, were stuck without a decent, healthy lunch, and it looks like we’re going to have to take some work home because a chaotic start made it impossible for us to be productive. And there goes our perfect little list, vanished. No time for the gym, the homemade dinner gets replaced by take-out, and going out for drinks seems impossible. It gets even more difficult when we’re also students who have to take shift work to maintain ourselves financially and still find some time to study.
There is peer pressure to over-do it with social activities, and the effort to make everything work for us is enormous. And then there are social media, to make it worse. While we’re working inside at 9:00 PM, we get to see pictures of our friends having a blast, thinking that they do not ever encounter the same difficulties. But, if only we could see behind one another’s screens! We are all caught up in that same spider web of multi-tasking, and we can’t seem to prioritize, let go, or slow down.
What Can We Do to Reduce the Rush?
There are apparently many things we can decide to do to slow down our dynamic lives. Some take longer to adapt, and some can be put in place instantly. But what we must understand, first of all, is that we do not have to synchronize with other people. We can’t all be multitaskers, gulping down several activities at once. We may need a gap between our activities. So the first step is always to figure out what type of person you are and what works best for you.
Next, it helps to improve that inner voice of ours and make it sound less harsh and less perfectionist. If we did not manage to pull off everything we had planned, we should take some time to breathe deeply and admit to ourselves that we’re just mortal human beings. As such, we could rest our case and be happy with what we have achieved throughout the day. The phrase “take one day at a time” is one that I often use in moments like these. It helps, and you can even make it your own personal mantra.
What else can be done?
Always Prioritize Your Well-being
There is an old Zen proverb that says something like this: “If you don’t have time to meditate for an hour every day, you should meditate for two hours.” This means that the busier you are, the more time you need to get back to your senses and take some time to reflect.
We know that the schedule can be pretty tight, but make sure to carve out at least an hour in the morning or late at night – which serves your well-being only. And you don’t necessarily have to meditate. Having a glass of wine before bed, green tea, or a nice hot bath with candles and music can be the perfect preparation for another productive day.
Filter Your List
This is why we emphasize that you have to really understand who you are and what you need to do to avoid unnecessary things taking a toll. If you’re not the type of person who wakes up very early to go running, then don’t beat yourself up. Try other times of the day to have a little bit of physical activity, and keep experimenting on different ways of moving until you have found your sport.
It doesn’t really matter if your friends or colleagues are doing something different. Maybe you’re not the “collective working out” type at all, and that’s also something you can discover while you filter the list of things that take a good part of your routine. Physical activity is just one example, to illustrate!
Unplug Every Once in a While
It may sound like a cliché, but one really must disconnect from the online, virtual world every once in a while. We get so overwhelmed during the day that reading about pretty much everything that goes on in the world is not exactly something we need at the end of the day. And we don’t need pictures of celebs complaining about climate change from luxurious islands in Thailand, either. Remaining in the company of our present reality, fully, is highly recommended. Also known as mindfulness, the time we set aside for ourselves will help us to take a general break and appreciate our surroundings.
Everything considered, there is no approach that works for everyone when it comes to balancing work, studies, and your private life. What’s crucial in all this struggle is that we do not become attached to our work desks 12 hours per day without fulfilling our basic human need to breathe some fresh air and make some human contact. We know that ambitions and careers are important aspects of our lives, but we won’t know how to appreciate the success we accomplish if we’re not taking care of our own well-being first.
Photos: Shutterstock / Photomontage: Martina Advaney