Thursday, July 5, 2018

How to Balance Your Full-Time Schedule With Your Passion Projects

We all have that one commitment.

You know, the activity that's kind of a hassle, takes up a lot of time but will be good for you in the long run. This could be school, work, both, or something else entirely. Something where you had to tell another being you were committed, and you are.

But you also want to be doing other things.

Writing, reading, blogging, photo taking, drawing, practicing guitar -- the list goes on and on. These are the passions that frustrate you and satisfy you all at once. And with a full schedule, it can be hard to fit everything in.

So, we look around on the Internet asking "how?"

Well, I'm writing this for you today because I've picked up some tips that have helped me fit in what I want to prioritize. And really, that's one of the first steps. Figure out what's important to you first, then sit down to fit it into your schedule. Because why bother penciling in an hour of coloring when you would rather be writing? [You get the idea, eh?]

#1: Cut out your binges.

Alright, I have to address it. The binge sessions. Your Saturday free time gets eaten up by good anime and beauty gurus on YouTube. Buuut it's also cutting into your productivity. Now breaks are healthy and I'm all for them. Sometimes you just gotta unwind. We don't want to risk burn out by pushing ourselves 24/7, because that makes it harder to start back up again. But we also don't want to procrastinate either.

How do we balance it?

The best way I've found is to give yourself an allowance -- "After I edit for 20 minutes, I'll watch one video" -- and stick with it. If you're not the type of person who can do that, I'd love to recommend something like Stay Focused. It's a browser extension where you tell it what sites you want limited access to (like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) and it gives you a daily allowance. Once you use that allowance, it blocks the site so you can't use it for the rest of the day -- pretty neat, hm?

#2: Find the pockets.

We all have those little 10 to 15 minute pockets of time where there is nothing going on. We're either waiting for someone to pick us up, for another class to start, or for lunch. Find ways to fill in those pockets of time.

You could do this with audiobooks, podcasts, or mental prep time. You could close your eyes and take a power nap. You could go through your list of to-dos and decide which one is the most important.

You could enjoy taking the moment to wait, be still, and breathe.

Whatever you choose, recognize these gaps of time and fill them however you please.

#3: Take baby steps.

It had been months since I've read a good YA book and even longer since I've taken the time to sit down and read. The thought of setting a number of books to read in a year was far to daunting, because where would I find the time? Yet, it was important to me. I love visiting other worlds and I didn't want to lose that part of me. So I would set a vague reading goal that I never fulfilled.

UNTIL

I realized I didn't have to read a book all in one day. How would my frazzled brain be able to take that pressure? However, I could read 10 pages a day. Just 10 pages! If I had time for more, I would read more. If not, I was satisfied and my books got returned to the library on time. ;)

You can do this for any goal or project you have that seems overwhelming to you. Break it down. Take little bites, as your mom would say. Don't try to scarf it all down at once.

It may seem like you're not making any progress, but that's 3650 pages a year! That's a lot more than 0...

#4: Get up earlier (if you can).

For some, this may not be possible. Your school schedule already has you getting up before the rest of the world. But if you don't have an obligation that's pulling you out of bed at a (somewhat) ridiculous hour, then I'd like to recommend you make one.

At first, it may make you feel grumpy, but after a few days, your body gets used to the routine. You go to bed earlier, rise earlier, and those weekend sleep-ins feel all the more satisfying.

#5: Print out a reminder.

I have a Daily Grind list I keep on my wall to remind myself the steps I'm taking each day to take care of myself. I may not achieve these tasks every day, but I am making progress in each area as time goes on.

I make it a point to do a few push-ups [I can handle 10! Which is 10 more than I could before. ;)] and drink water in the morning. On the days where I don't have class at the crack of dawn, I put my quiet time first, whether it takes 15 or 45 minutes. On breaks I get up and walk down the hallway, stretch, do a few jumping jacks. The point is, when I see the reminder on my wall it reminds me and things get done.

#6: Learn from me.

For the longest time *cough* as in years *cough* I have been putting off editing my novels (there's something about the process that COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY OVERWHELMS ME, so I usually get to the point where I hate the novel and then quit). When the opportunity came up -- like the notification that a YouTuber's video went live, or an invite to watch a movie -- I took it, because I could "always edit it later". And then all of a sudden it's midnight and I'm tired... See where I'm going?

Doing this has cost me time. Lots of it.

If this is you with one of your goals, please please please take the time to remove your distractions. Turn off notifications -- or even just turn off your phone. Or if you can't get away with that, put it on silent and hide it so you aren't tempted. It will be hard at first, but trust me, it's so worth it.

Other action steps that don't need long explanations:

  • Work on one project at a time.
  • Learn to say "no". (Or just use your mom as an excuse: "She said I couldn't.")
  • Take breaks when you need them!
  • If you can't give a passion project your full attention now, pencil it into your future schedule and continue to look forward to the times when you will be able to work on it.

One last thing before I go: Take your time.

There's no need to rush. Sometimes it seems like the world is pressuring us to get 'er done, but in actuality, it's the pressure from our own expectations that weigh us down.

Don't expect too much. But also don't expect less than you are capable of.

In a good way. Stretch yourself, but don't stress yourself. You're where you are for a reason.

How do you balance your schedule with your passion projects? What are you going to put into action today? Are you liking 2018 so far?

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