Time Management: A Retrospection

The irony here is impeccable, yes, I know.

I told myself that every Friday I would post, but alas, here I am two days late, scrambling to think of something witty and creative to say.

That’s another irony, I suppose. The witty and creative stuff seems to elude me when I need it most. Kind of like when you hear a quote from a movie that’s so good you just have to hold onto it, but the minute you have an opportunity to use it, you can’t for the life of you remember it.

With that said, allow me to offer some thoughts on time management. That seems fitting, after all. I don’t pretend to be any sort of fabulous time-manager, in fact, I consider myself a pretty mainstream procrastinator in most cases. However, lately, I’ve been concerned with how I balance my schedule and whether or not I’m “doing enough.” I put that in quotation marks because it’s such a ridiculous phrase that it’s a wonder I bother to ask myself it at all. What does it mean to “do enough”? Why am I even getting that impression?

I’ll start with a story. On Saturdays, I work at a build-your-own pizza chain called Mod Pizza, the remnant of a lovely summer job that I didn’t want to let go of completely since I go to school close to home. At the end of the summer, I got promoted to a trainer, which required taking an online course within a certain amount of time (I think I had four weeks). I was working on it mostly in my free time in between classes since I knew myself well enough to know I probably wouldn’t be very motivated to do it in the evenings (I am, admittedly, more of a morning person), but it was relatively slow-going. About a week before the deadline, my boss asked me if I had finished yet, to which I replied, “Almost.” Intending both to motivate and inform me, he told me that another of my coworkers had already finished it a while ago and that he was waiting on me (primarily so that he could order us our super fly trainer t-shirts).

I knew this coworker; not only did she work two jobs, but I also knew that she was going to school full-time and that she had a kid. I felt a little down on myself. “Damn,” I thought. “If this girl can do all that and get the stupid training done, then what the hell am I doing?” Notwithstanding the fact that I also go to school full-time, and have another part-time job, and family and a boyfriend that I like to see on a somewhat regular basis. Casually, I told my boss that I didn’t know how she did it all, to which he replied, “Well, she’s the kind of person who doesn’t like to have anything on her plate.” Meaning she wasn’t a procrastinator.

Ah, shit.

I began to self-introspect, as I am prone to do, and wonder if I could be doing more. After all, I was hanging onto this job by one shift. Even with my other job (which I only work for about 12 hours during the week), almost every evening from about 6 to the time I go to bed, I don’t do much of anything. Homework, sometimes. Mostly just eat dinner and watch TV. Technically, I could be doing so much more, I thought. Yet, at the same time, I felt like I was at capacity. I had a tendency to want to overcommit myself, and during my freshman year of college, I had experienced what it felt like to be in over my head. I learned very quickly that I am not one to sacrifice the state of my mental health to be “more involved” or “more productive.” I wondered how other people–other peers, other classmates–managed to do so much and still appear so put together. What were they doing that I wasn’t?

For the time that I spent deliberating my own apparent usefulness, I had neglected to accept several very crucial facts: one was a Biblical principle, a verse in II Corinthians that says that comparing yourself to others isn’t wise. Why? Because of the next fact: you are not them. I am not my coworker, or my classmate who’s triple majoring, or the student organization leader who receives prestigious scholarships for things I’ve never even heard of. Which leads me to the next fact: because of this, you don’t know what their lives are actually like. You don’t know where they’re at mental health-wise, whether they’re on the verge of breaking down every day, or whether they’re just wired to do that much; maybe they like being that busy, maybe that’s where they’re the happiest. Nor do you know what motivates them: do they have family they’re trying to provide for? (In the case of my coworker, yes.) Do they really love what they’re doing, or do they feel obligated? (In the case of my classmates, it can go either way.) Are they trying to build their resume? Are they looking for glory? You don’t know, nor should you really care except to give them props for their accomplishments.

And you definitely shouldn’t worry about whether or not you, personally, are “doing enough” in comparison to them, because in light of all the other facts, this one conclusion emerges: everyone has different limits. Much like physical activity or proper diet, there is no one-size-fits-all for balancing one’s life. Everyone has different mental and physical limits, as well as different desires, different motivations, and different ideas of what balanced looks like. You can read all the lifestyle articles you want about time management and productivity, and they may give you some very helpful tips, but what it really comes down to is whether or not you feel satisfied with your own schedule. Some people do too little for their make-up; some people do too much. I feel like in today’s society it’s usually the latter, which is why it’s not a crime to sit back and relax every now and then, to find time for yourself and for your loved ones, and to unplug–even from the seemingly important stuff, like school and work.

People sometimes talk about making the most of every moment, and though I agree that one shouldn’t take time for granted, how fulfilling is it really to always be uptight about using your time to its max potential? Like, if you do sleep in a little late one day, or find yourself sucked into the black hole that is Facebook for longer than you’d like (can you tell yet that these are personal examples?) what good is it to worry about it? Then you’ve wasted more time worrying about the time you’ve already wasted. I think a good guiding principle is, are you getting done the things you need to get done, and do you enjoy it? Are you so busy you’re overly stressed, or do you have so much free time you feel idle? It’s all relative. No one can set a standard for you, though surely you can learn from others. Just like diet and exercise, there is no one right answer; mostly, there’s just principles, the most basic of which is to find your own balance.



2 thoughts on “Time Management: A Retrospection

  1. Great thoughts in this post! The urge to compare yourself to others is very real and almost never healthy. This was something I struggled with so much in school, but now that I’ve graduated I struggle with even more. My schedule was so packed for so long that now that all I’m doing is working full-time I feel like every inch of my day should be filled, but I just don’t have the time or energy. It was easier to be forgiving when I was working two jobs and doing school, but I don’t know how forgiving I can be of myself now that I should technically have more free time. All we can hope for is balance, I guess!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very true! Being a student definitely breeds that mindset, but I don’t think students realize that life doesn’t have to be so jam-packed all the time because we just get so used to it! I can’t wait to graduate though I expect I’ll feel the same way you did. It really is a balancing act! Thanks for sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

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