A lot of conversations in my life go like this: I start talking about the things I do – blogging, my internship, working out, and just being a college student in general – and I inevitably get some variation of “I don’t understand how you manage to do everything!” (my favorite version: “I’m pretty sure you just have an extra hour in the day that the rest of us don’t have!”). As much as I wish that was true, it’s totally not. I’ve only got 24 hours in my day – I’ve just gotten really good at making the most of them.
So today’s post is all about how I make that magic happen – how I manage to “have it all” – and how you can too. Beyond the tips I usually give in posts, I’m also giving you some exercises to get closer to this idea of “having it all.”
First things first: “having it all” isn’t a real thing
Yes, I just told you that this post is about how to “have it all.” But the truth is, I don’t do everything. It’s physically impossible to do literally everything, but it’s much easier to have five or so major priorities. My major priorities are getting good grades, keeping up with this blog, taking care of my body, building a solid record of work experience, and spending time with my friends/family. The way that I structure my life is a direct response to those priorities. For example, I don’t watch a ton of TV, because keeping up with TV shows isn’t something that I prioritize. If it is for you, that’s totally ok! But that priority may limit you from achieving another priority.
ACTION ITEM: Write out what you think your top 5-6 priorities are, or what you want your top 5-6 priorities to be.
Manage your time
Time management is such a crucial life skill. I’m lucky enough that time management is something that comes naturally to me, but like a sport, it’s something you consistently have to practice to get good at. There are a ton of ways you can manage your time – for me, I put the structure of my day into my bullet journal and iCal. This allows me to see how I’m budgeting my time and have something tangible reminding me of what I’m trying to do in a day. Budgeting out your time like this allows you to waste less time – you’re less likely to get stuck in a 3-hour YouTube black hole if you have a schedule to stick to.
ACTION ITEM: Track how you spend your time for a whole week. At the end of the week, look at the trends. Does the way that you spend your time match up with your stated priorities? If not, reconsider one or the other. Perhaps your priorities need to shift a little to match the ways that you spend your time, or you need to re-allocate your time to match up with your priorities.
Pick priorities that make you happy
If you’re constantly dreading the things that are your “priorities,” you’re not going to do them well, and you’ll just generally be dissatisfied with your life. I love working out, I love learning, and I love writing things – my priorities match up with these things. While you may have a priority of two that’s not the most exciting thing (I totally understand if you’re not one of those people who enjoys school stuff, I’m definitely an outlier in this situation), a majority of your priorities should be things that you enjoy. So if watching TV and reading magazines is something that genuinely makes you happy, it’s totally ok to make “keeping up with pop culture” one of your priorities. People are much more likely to look at you and see someone that “has it all” if you’re genuinely happy with everything that you’re doing.
ACTION ITEM: Look at your priorities and ask yourself, “does this make me happy?” If you find that the answer is “no,” on more than two of your priorities, that may be a sign that you need to reconsider those priorities. Are there things that make you happy that aren’t on your list? If so, are there any priorities on your list that you want to replace with these things?
With a number of different priorities, multitasking seems like a good idea, right? Wrong. One of the best ways to be more efficient with your time and to get more done is to focus exclusively on one thing at a time. If you want some help building that focus, I’ve got a post on productivity tips that you should check out! I’m not going to act like I don’t ever spend time relaxing and watching YouTube videos, watching Netflix, or mindlessly scrolling through Instagram, but when I decide that I’m going to work on something, I cut out all of the distractions and get straight to work.
ACTION ITEM: When you decide to work on something, commit to it. If that means you leave your phone in another room or turn off the Wi-Fi on your laptop, go for it. If you focus on one thing at a time instead of bouncing back and forth between an assignment and Facebook, you’ll actually end up with way more free time to scroll through social media (or start on another task).
Focus on sleep quality
One downside of doing so much is that I sleep slightly less than the average person. I’m well-adjusted to this concept, and the way that I’m able to do it is to focus on the quality of my sleep since the quantity isn’t always the greatest. There are certain habits I’ve discovered that allow me to sleep better and feel more energized when I wake up (my nighttime routine is coming to my YouTube channel later this week). Find those habits that work for you, and implement them.
ACTION ITEM: Test out a variety of before-bed habits and see if they improve your sleep quality. Examples include diffusing essential oils, tracking your sleep cycles, and avoiding bright screens before bedtime.
And those are my tips! This concept of “having it all” isn’t something insanely complicated – it’s just a matter of good self-discipline and being conscious of how you choose to spend your time. Here’s to increased productivity and getting on top of your life.