When I decided to go back to school while continuing to work, I knew I was going to be busy, and I was right. Matters became hectic very quickly. I knew if I was going to continue what I wanted to do, there were going to have to be changes. So I decided on doing some life spring cleaning.
The first thing I did was look at my calendar and start asking myself some questions. Why am I doing this? Am I pleasing myself by taking on this task, or am I pleasing someone else, and why? Is the amount of energy I am putting into this worth the results? Am I focusing on important tasks, or those that are urgent? Finally, are the things I am doing really a reflection of my personal values or am I doing these things because everyone else is?
What came out of this is that I realized that I had a difficult time at saying no. I was basically allowing other people to guide my life. It isn’t easy, but saying yes to our own priorities sometimes means saying no to someone else’s priorities. Saying no is a superpower we can all develop. It’s just takes some practice.
What I found was by taking control, I had more purpose and focus. I changed up my morning tasks before I left for work. I eliminated the time I was spending focusing on social media after waking up and replaced it with a first thing in the morning workout routine. This allowed me to concentrate better throughout the day as well as feeling more energized physically. By working out in the morning, my time after work was freed up to focus on school. My grades improved. I was able to go to bed early and get a full night’s sleep.
At work, I started saying no to extraneous added tasks and concentrating on the matters that were truly important to my team, like communicating with them and trusting them to take the lead as a way of training. This allowed me to start to work on root cause problems – those matters that everyone puts off because there doesn’t seem to be enough time. Work life improved. I could actually take a lunch break without worrying about what went wrong while I was gone.
Working full time and going to school full time soon became less stressful and more purposeful. People starting asking me how the heck I was able to do it. Last year, I had a health situation which required nine and a half weeks of radiation treatments. If I hadn’t changed my approach earlier, I most likely would not have been able to handle it. As it stood, I was in good physical shape and my schedule had been honed well enough for me to be able to plow through everything and only take two sick days.
It is always good to look at your daily routines and rituals and ask if they are still relevant. Sometimes they are, sometimes you find you have the opportunity to clear out non-productive things. Letting out your inner three year old and saying NO has its advantages as well. It allows you and those around you know that when you say Yes to something that you know that you can devote time and energy to it. That makes you dependable. the key is realizing what is working for you and what your limits are. None of us are Superman, but saying no is sometimes the only superpower we need.