I have a quick confession to make, folks: I am a time hoarder.
What do I mean by that? Well, if I were to follow my instincts, I would spend almost all of my free time on schoolwork…..in other words, I am naturally disposed toward what some would call workaholism. Maybe it’s because I’m a high achiever, but I struggle to just “chill out,” as some would say.
Even though it took a long time, I eventually figured out that spending all my free time working was really not beneficial for my mental, physical, or spiritual health. This past semester I started making changes in how I used my time, which resulted in 3 important realizations that allowed me to be more efficient and live a more balanced life.
Realization #1: Planning is nonnegotiable.
I used to just “go with the flow” when trying to get work done. Unfortunately, I found that this is a recipe for stress and inefficiency. Two things typically happen when I neglect to plan:
- I spend more time than needed deciding what task to work on, and then switching halfway through when I remember that there’s something more important that needs to be done.
- I will do really well on the first part of a project/course, and then do subpar work on the second half because I ran out of time.
When I make a list of what needs to be done and when, not only am I able to quickly move from one task to the next, but I know exactly how much time I have to spend, which allows me to consistently produce quality work.
Realization #2: Taking one day off each week can be life changing.
My past self would not believe this was possible, but with the exception of the last couple weeks of the semester, I took 24 consecutive hours off every single week for the past few months.
Not only did this eliminate the feelings of burnout that I struggled with during my first year of university, but it also forced me to work more efficiently, because I knew I had less time to spend on schoolwork.
As a side note, my grades did not suffer at all, even though I was taking a heavier course load than usual.
Realization #3: Sacrificing devotional time for schoolwork = little gain, much pain.
I don’t always act like I know this….but it’s really true. Whenever I decide that I’m going to abandon my daily routine of spending time with God, I always regret it in the long term, even if it means I temporarily get ahead in schoolwork. Why? Well, there are many reasons, but here is one example:
Instead of filling my mind with truth, like the fact that no matter with happens I have a Heavenly Father that loves me and provides for me, I start to get distracted by other things. I also start believing lies, like the idea that I can and should rely on my own strength, that I should seem “on point” all of the time, etc. etc. As a result, I steadily get more stressed and anxious over time, which means I get more irritable……I think you probably get the idea. Neglecting time spent with God results in a slippery slope of unpleasant outcomes, to say the least.
On the other hand, when I prioritize time spent reading the Bible and praying on a regular basis, I am generally a flourishing individual. A lot of the anxiety and stress that I would otherwise deal with disappears, and I have a better sense of how insignificant any current struggles are in relationship to the grand scheme of things. Overall, I am a much more relaxed and calm version of myself when I’m intentional about spending time with God.
Needless to say, I still have quite a ways to go in quelling my time hoarding habits. Hopefully I’ll figure it out with time. 😉