I'm currently on my fifth week of working full time while also going to grad school full time. I also generally volunteer monthly, exercise daily, and enjoy having a social life on weekends. I may sound like an obnoxious overachiever and maybe it's because I am (screw you, whatever), but personally, I've just always felt eager to experience as much as possible.
Nevertheless, it gets exhausting. This past month has been a huge adjustment, even for me, but I think I'm finally beginning to learn how to balance it all without angrily texting my boyfriend every time something goes wrong (sorryloveyouthanks!). Anyway, here are my five tips to staying sane while busy.
Wake up earlier
And if you're not a morning person, all the better. I have never enjoyed being spoken to within the first hour of waking. I need coffee, breakfast, and most importantly, some me time, before any interaction. When I'm really under a time crunch, these routines hold even more importance. So, while I could take the train to work and sleep in until 30 minutes before I need to be at my desk, I instead choose to wake up around 75-90 minutes ahead of time (clothes and bag laid out the night prior) and walk the two miles to work. By the time I arrive, I feel energized rather than frantic, which is better for both me and anyone who needs to engage with me on a regular basis.
Do you sit down at your desk and immediately start checking email? It's a hard habit to break and seems like the intuitive way to get your day started, but it can also immediately set you in a reactive mindset. Instead, keep a running to-do list with items listed in order of importance (I use the computer-generated sticky notes so I never lose them!). Upon sitting down, check your list, your calendar, and organize your day.
Take strategic breaks
Speaking of being reactive, it can be difficult to remain cool and collected when you're under a lot of pressure and have tons going on. And let's be real, unless you work in an ER or a place of equal importance, there's no reason to get super worked up over deadlines and workload. When the emails are piling in, phone is ringing off the hook and you're ready to snap, just take a 10-15 minute break to walk around the block, grab a snack or call your mom and say hi - you'll be better off for it!
You don't need to spend a fortune on probiotic quinoa kale mash or whatever, but do try to make smart food choices - it's literally the fuel we run on. You also don't have to dedicate hours and hours to spin class - in fact, physically exhausting yourself is not a good thing. I learned this last week after I threw my neck out CHANGING MY SHIRT a few days after taking a really hardcore bootcamp class. Looking back, such a high-intensity workout was extremely counterproductive and definitely triggered an injury. I needed to be rejuvenated, not beat the fuck up and out of commission for a week.Lesson learned.
Make time for friends
I'm a yes person. Sometimes my boyfriend will ask me outrageous questions (hey we have two hours to kill - want to go kayaking in the Hudson and train to Flushing Chinatown for lunch?) just to get a kick out of me saying "sure!" sans any hesitation. This trait has scored me some really fun times in life, but it gets exhausting and works against me sometimes. I'm learning (slowly) to choose plans thoughtfully without feeling guilty and plan ahead to make sure I get quality time with friends I love to see.
End your day on a positive note. On all days, but especially busy ones, it's important to turn off the lights and ease into bed, rather than crash into it. For even just TEN minutes before going to sleep, turn all electronics off, light a candle, and read a little something, listen to something inspiring, or nom on some chocolate. Whatever it is, enjoy it!