When I first started Intern Queen and spoke in front of student audiences the questions were always the same, “How do I get more involved?” Today, things have shifted, when I speak in front of a college audience, the question I get is, “I’m too involved. How can I cut back?” We live in an era where it’s cool to be busy, to have a lot of things on your plate, and to multi-task constantly. However, it’s also our job to scale back, to make sure we don’t overdo it, and to make sure we still have time for ourselves. As an entrepreneur, I’m constantly battling with my schedule. How am I supposed to spend my time every day? I’m still searching for the exact right way to spend my time at work and my personal time.Lucky for you, I have a few solutions on how to lighten your schedule:
1. Learn to Say NO. I feel like Officer Friendly when I say this – but it’s true. When I was in college, I said YES to almost everything. I had plans constantly, was involved in several organizations, and was busy every second. When I look back at all of the activities I was involved with, I say, “What was the point of some of these?” I had so many extracurricular activities that most of them didn’t even fit on my one-page resume! And what about all of those “friends” I had that I had to hang out with all the time? Funny, I only talk to 1-2 of them on a weekly or monthly basis. Why didn’t I say no more frequently?
2. Schedule ALONE Time. When you are working on your crazy schedule for the week, enter in some YOU time or some ALONE time. Don’t feel like you have to “keep up with the busy contest”. Tonight, I’m going to spend my alone time watching bad reality shows and sitting on my couch eating sushi. You don’t have to do anything wise with your alone time – just make sure you get some in.
3. Eliminate and Evaluate. Try to eliminate some of the things you are involved with. Pick three organizations that bring value to your life. State that value out loud. Why are you part of these organizations? What are you gaining from them? If you’re interested in a career in analytics after graduation, for example, do you really need to be in that PR club? You should become active in at least one of the three organizations that you are passionate about. Outside of the three extra-curriculars, you might consider dropping the rest.
4. Look at Your Calendar From a Bird’s Eye View. I used to only check my Google Calendar in the mornings. I’d look at when I had meetings and calls and really just follow my to-do list. Today, I have a desk top calendar where I can view the entire month. I always write down what I want to accomplish on each of the days. If I know I’ll be busy or traveling one day – I take those goals and move them to another day. Looking at the entire month instead of only by the day has helped me lighten my schedule, feel accomplished, and not feel overwhelmed.
5. Determine What Needs to Be Accomplished. You have the power to lighten your schedule. Your schedule is typically what you make it. Every day look over your long to-do list but circle the top 5 goals. What absolutely needs to be done today? Focus on those things instead of working your way down a never-ending to-do list.
6. Manage Other People’s Expectations. If you are backed up at work and can’t see a friend for lunch, just suggest another date. Don’t stress or make yourself feel bad. Manage their expectations and let them know when you can see them. The same thing goes for your job. If your boss asks if he can get a certain report by Thursday and you know your schedule is hectic until Thursday ask if you can turn it in on Friday or on Monday. Managing people’s expectations always helps lighten your workload and schedule.