The Magic of the Word “When”

Here’s a rundown of a typical Fall 2014 Monday in the life of Britta:

9:00–get up (you might say, gee, that’s awfully late for a Monday. Well, I don’t have class until 10:30, and when you go to bed at 2 am on a regular basis, 9:00 is a perfectly reasonable time to get up). I usually catch up on some reading for school while eating breakfast to make the best use of my time.

10:30–head to Minnesota History (an unchallenging, though interesting 2000 level history class that ended up being a good idea to have in my schedule since I also have two very demanding upper level classes that are taking up a lot of my homework time).

11:35–get out of class and head back to my hall for a quick break before…

11:50–HD staff meeting where we discuss everything that we need to pass onto our CA’s at our hall staff meetings on Tuesday and other HDey stuff.

12:20-12:50 (or whenever the meeting ends)–head back to my room to check my Morris e-mail and make sure my staff has all their weekly reports in (these are a way for CA’s to let their supervisors know what’s going on in life and on their floor since we don’t see them every day). I send an e-mail response to every CA on my staff so they know I’ve read them and then I have lunch.

2:00–1:1 with one of my CA’s. I then work on homework and/or get distracted by the internet (I’m sure every college student out there can relate to this). In the event that I’m feeling really overwhelmed, I’ll take some time away from homework completely.

3:30–Head to Brit Lit 1 (Another 2000 level course that I need for my English major and didn’t have a chance to take until this semester. I didn’t think I’d enjoy it as much as I am, but it’s super interesting!).

4:35–head back to my room and change for Dance Ensemble.

5:00–Dance Ensemble practice.

6:00–Dinner time, some precious free time to study/veg a little bit if I feel like I can’t focus.

8:30–Meet with Community Council Board (as the Hall Director, one of my responsibilities is to advise the hall government).

9:00–Community Council Meeting.

9:15-9:20 (or whenever the meeting ends)–Homework time, probably at the library, for the rest of the night.

Between 1:00 and 2:00 am (on a good night): SLEEP!

You might ask, why am I sharing this all? Why should you care about my Monday schedule? Well, you probably don’t, but I wanted to give a visual of how busy I am this semester (Monday’s are particularly busy, and it’s also a Monday today so all this is incredibly fresh in my mind). This semester is undoubtedly the busiest that I’ve ever been in college. At the same time, my stress and anxiety levels are incredibly low. Does that mean they’re non-existent? Hell no! It just means that  somehow, I’m doing something right. I’ve discovered that the busier I am, the better off I am. It’s when I have a lot of free time that I start to let my mind wander, and inevitably it will wander in the direction of something that will make me anxious. I find that I appreciate my down time more when it comes in small doses. Furthermore, I’ve found that sometimes you just have to make time for the things that matter most in life.

This is the main difference between my freshman year self and my current, senior year self:

Freshman year of college I would have asked myself, “Do I have time to work out with all the homework I have due tomorrow? Do I have time to take an hour or two to just write for myself? Nope. Guess that wont be happening.”

Now, I ask myself: “When can I make time to work out? I haven’t blogged in a while, when can I make time for that?”

I’ve learned that to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle, I need to take “If” out of the equation. It’s not if I can do it, it’s when I can do it!

If taking an hour or two for myself during the day means that I’m going to get to bed a little later at night, I’m okay with that. I’d rather feel mentally secure and a little tired the next day than well rested and an anxious mess (well, I probably wont be sleeping well anyways if I’m an anxious mess, so going to bed earlier would only be counterproductive).

What works for me might not work for you. In fact, it probably wont. What matters is replacing those “Ifs” with “Whens.”

Life certainly isn’t joy ride. So far, my senior year has been really busy and tough to manage, but by continually asking myself when I can fit in alone time and friends time into my schedule rather than questioning if I have time for those things, everything becomes easier. I know I need those breaks from school work anyway, or else I’ll just feel burned out and wont be productive.

Sometimes you just gotta know when you need a break, and by break, I don’t mean taking twenty minutes on facebook, twitter, or your social media site of choice. I mean physically getting away from whatever you’re working on and actively taking your mind off of your school work. Maybe for you that’s working out or reading a book for fun. Maybe it’s having a wild dance party by yourself or meeting up to chat with some friends. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as it gets you physically and mentally somewhere else for a bit so you can come back to your homework space rejuvenated and ready to work.

Long story short: In the context of finding time for yourself, “If” stifles and “when” encourages; when in doubt, choose “when.”

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