This newsletter is coming quite late because I spent all of today sleeping. I think my body really needed it, and I am so happy I was able to sleep for more than twelve hours. Can’t remember the last time I did.
Since the beginning of May, I have been making posts on LinkedIn sharing insights and nuggets that cut across career, self-development, finances and relationships. In one of such posts, I speak about handling time, which is a concept that deeply concerns me. As you probably already know, I am a student who works two jobs, with extracurriculars sandwiched in between. Time is something I am always thinking about and something I struggle with, and I know there are many people like me who also struggle with time management. Modern life and demands have made our lives more saturated with a sheer quantity of things to do, so trying to weed out essentials to focus our time and energy on can be quite challenging.
Earlier this week, I saw a tweet that struck a chord with me:
I was reminded of Parkinson’s Law, the old theory that states that work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion. So, whether you have two weeks to complete an assignment or two hours, you will probably put in the same amount of time needed to get it done. I also thought about my tendency to emphasize how much time I don’t have for events I have committed to with statements like, “I don’t have time,” or “I am so busy,” which is funny because most of the tasks that fill my to-do lists take less than 20 minutes to complete, and yet, I am often always scared of doing them, which results in things piling up, and me feeling more overwhelmed.
But living this way tires me out. I feel like I am always running, so I am coming to terms with the fact that I need better time management skills; not just to survive, but to live a more wholesome life. With better time management, I will be able to work more and play more, and get more rest, too. Like Mitchelle pointed out, there is sufficient time at my disposal, I just need to be more resourceful in how I use it.
And so, as a result, I have been trying to learn what I can about how to manage my time better. I watched this Ted Talk where a Professor shares why we procrastinate, and I found it incredible. You can watch it here. I also watched a video where a girl talked about how procrastination is such a time waster, and because she is a lazy person who doesn’t like things taking up mental space, she has learned to do things as soon as they pop up so that she never has to think about them again. Woah. That was a huge paradigm shift. I hadn’t realised that in my bid to procrastinate, I was basically just giving myself more stress because I remained mentally conscious of the things that needed to be done, and not doing them was stressing me.
Here are a few things other things I have learned that can be useful to you:
Reduce Your Workload.
To do what is important, avoid spending time on things that are not important. You don’t need to do everything, and you don’t have to put your 100% energy or performance into everything at the same time in order to achieve your goals. Interestingly, I have realised that sometimes we take on more work as a way to procrastinate. Ever had the urge to clean your room the night before a test? Yup, that’s your mind playing tricks.
The concept of the sunk cost fallacy also ties in with this. Some of the things on your plate are dead-ends, and you know it. Yet, you keep investing more time and resources into them, even though your results don’t reflect the time and effort spent.
Learn when to stop.
Also remember that sometimes staying at one point is necessary. You don't always have to be moving or in a constant state of growth. It’s not even healthy. Enforcing constant growth will lead to burnout, and while there is nothing wrong with wanting to improve, give yourself time to breathe.
Prioritize Your Tasks.
At every given point in time, there are some things that are more important than others. Giving attention to the most essential tasks first, will save your life. I learned about the Eisenhower Matrix (pictured above) and how it can be used to organize your tasks. Do important tasks urgently. For tasks that aren’t urgent, but are important, schedule them to be done later. (The scheduling part matters so you don’t forget and procrastinate on doing them). Delegate tasks that do not require your unique touch but are important and need to be done urgently, and delete tasks that are neither urgent nor important.
Learn to set interim deadlines for long-term projects, too. This will prevent you from putting off big projects till the night they are due. Eg. I have exams in a month, so I have been setting weekly goals that will help me be prepared by the time the exam period comes around.
Learn to Plan.
Make a To-Do List of everything you want to do.
Estimate how long each task will take.
Schedule each one into a calendar, like an appointment that you will have with someone else.
Try not to get stuck in a cycle of planning without executing. It’s very easy to do this because you dispel a lot of energy by working on your plans, which might make you feel productive even though nothing is getting done. Yes, writing down all your plans on colour-coded paper may be cute, but in the end, you are merely building castles on air if you don’t execute them.
Execute Fast and with Precision.
Procrastination is your sworn enemy; avoid it at all costs. If you need help with starting tasks, I have found that the 2-minute rule is helpful. Tell yourself that you will do a task only for two minutes, then start doing it. This is a trick I use whenever I don't feel like doing something, like writing this newsletter, for instance (you know I love you guys). It’s a great trick because it reduces the amount of stress your brain perceives the task will take, and once you start, it is easier to see it to the end.
Find ways to create more efficient systems.
Take advantage of your natural dispositions. I am a morning person, so you will find me being my most productive self early in the day. This means I use my waking hours for tasks that require more mental or physical energy, like memorizing and laundry. If you are an evening person, do the hardest tasks then. Reading overnight works for some people, but not everyone can or should. So learn yourself, to know what best works for you.
Finally, take breaks! Your mind and body need time and space to refuel energy. Remember the conversation I had with Flora some newsletters ago? You are Human, not AI, and being human means, you have human needs that must be respected and met. Take time to be idle. By idleness, I mean stone-cold idleness. No phone, no book, nada. Your brain was not designed for constant stimulation, and yet we engage in activity all the time, consciously and subconsciously. We really, really need to learn how to take breaks.
Phew! This was one long newsletter, but I really hope it’s been helpful to anyone going through similar challenges. We can do this. There is enough time available, we just need to learn how to use it better.
I also think it’s a good time to announce that I am taking a break from writing letters for a while. I will be back on Saturday, the 17th of June. The reason is that I need to focus wholly on school right now. I have exams in three weeks, and I don’t feel ready, so I want to take time off everything that isn’t essential at the moment.
For the time being, read my letters, share them with people who might need them, and please take care of yourself. If you want to write to me, you can always reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. I might take a while to respond, but I will get to it eventually.
You know I am always rooting for you.
See you when I get back. ♥
Media I Consumed this week:
Watching: Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story. I really enjoyed binge-watching this. It was such a heartwarming story, and it touched on so many topics I don’t see expressed in romance fiction - like mental illness, love in old age, and the sheer weight of loneliness. These are real, deep issues, and I will always appreciate how they were explored in this series. It was also nice to see new faces, like India Amarteifo and Arsema Thomas. Shonda Rhimes, you will always be famous.
I also watched Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and guys oh my??? This must be the Best Marvel Movie to come out this year. I loved it so much! It made me so emotional, and it made me laugh, and the plot was beautiful, and everything made sense. What a masterful work of art.
Reading: School work. This week I read Express Private Trusts, but I doubt you care about this tbh.
Listening: I have been listening to a lot of Latin pop. Nothing hits better these days. I created a playlist with all my favourite Latin pop girlies.
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As always, your letters bring me so much comfort ❤️. One leg in front of the other.
Good luck in your exams Treasure 🫂❤️
I really needed this
Success in your exams❤️