I’m about to give away my age here. Almost 20 years ago I heard a guest speaker at college say something incredibly stupid, which led to me forming perhaps the most lasting resolution of my life (and maybe the only one that I’ve stayed true to). Here’s his words as I remember them (said in a condescending tone):
You think you all are busy now in college? Wait until you get into real life!
At that time, I was taking 20 credit hours, and working full-time, 40 hours a week. I was also working a part-time job 5-6 hours a week on Saturdays. Class attendance was mandatory, so I was sitting in a classroom for 20 hours a week, plus homework assignments. I had mandatory chapel meetings 3 hours a week, and mandatory church attendance, which took up at least 9 more hours a week. Plus, there was a mandatory ministry requirement that took a minimum of 2 hours a week. AND, I lived in a dormitory on campus which required that lights be out from 11:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. (5 ½ hours a night). Added together, that left me less than 54 hours a week to eat, groom myself, do class assignments, and, I don’t know, speak to another human being occasionally? I do feel I need to add here that this insane schedule was not the fault of my school. It was I who decided that I wanted to graduate in 4 years or less with absolutely no school debt. The part-time job gave me some much needed personal spend money, and the full-time job paid for my tuition. Also, I have always been a quick learner, and I was able to maintain a 3.9 grade point average even with having VERY LITTLE time for my assignments. (How much I retained of my education is questionable!)
So, when I heard that stupid inconsiderate remark, I became ANGRY. I remember thinking, If I’m going to be this busy for the rest of my life, I might as well kill myself now, because life will not be worth living! Don’t worry, Mom, I wasn’t suicidal, just very, very, VERY sleep deprived. I decided right then and there that I would never be this busy again. And I haven’t been. THE END.
Oh wait, did you want to hear how I make sure I’m not that busy? There are three steps involved, and I already randomly mentioned them in the post above, but I’ll spell them out better.
Budget your time
We all have the same amount of time in a week – 168 hours. We choose (or let others choose for us) how to spend them. While I was in college, my top priority was to graduate in 4 years or less with no debt. That meant that class attendance and work came before everything else, even sleep. Socializing was at the very bottom of my priority list (it wasn’t even on the list really), and so that is why you would have found me taking a much needed nap on the couch on just about every Friday night. Nowadays, I have very different priorities, namely to be the best person I was created to be. Showing brotherly kindness to my fellow humans is a big part of that, and 8 hours of sleep a night is a necessity (ask my husband – even HE prioritizes my sleep since he has to live with me! J) So, I have a very regular sleep pattern, and I block off 8 hours a day for it. The rest of my priorities fall in the 16 hours that are left.
Decide that GOOD ENOUGH is Good Enough
When I only had 20-30 minutes to study for a test, I had to decide that getting a B (for the first time in my life) would be an acceptable grade for 20-30 minutes of study. Thankfully, I still usually managed to squeak out an A-, but I attribute that to positive prejudice (my theory that if I worked hard to earn and portray myself as an A student at the beginning of the semester, the teacher would be biased toward giving me a higher grade toward the end of the semester when I had no time to put forth quality work #positivefirstimpressions). Good Enough now means that I cook acceptably healthy meals for my family 80-90% of the time (none of which will ever be Pinterest worthy), and don’t sweat the occasional fast food meal (as long as it is truly occasional). When we lived in a larger house, Good Enough meant that the kitchen and bathrooms were clean, but the vacuuming and mopping was left to my 8 year old son, and what he did was Good Enough (just don’t eat off the floors!)
Say it kindly; say it often. Say it to others and yourself. You cannot do everything and do it well. Sleep hours are not flex hours to be spent on TV watching or catching up on housework. It’s one thing to push yourself to the max for a set amount of time (I’ll be done with college soon was my mantra), but it is utterly exhausting and demoralizing to be exhausted trying to get it all done, and see no end in sight. If you’re there (and I’ve been there, so I sympathize), you need to say NO to non-essentials, and do something about your busyness. This is one of the reasons I’m so passionate about living with less – less stuff, less debt, less busyness, less fewer commitments (doggone it, I just couldn’t keep the alliteration going!)
There you go, 3 lessons I learned in the last 20 years to make sure I was never as busy as that stupid inconsiderate speaker insinuated I would be; now I guess it’s time to let go of my anger and be grateful for the lessons I learned from that stupid unfortunate remark!