So after what was the most amazing summer of my life, I am now back at University for my third year. It feels like only yesterday that I was writing about freshers on here and now I’m nearly finished.
All my fellow musical theatre lovers will have noticed the ‘Hamilton’ reference in the title. It’s an amazing soundtrack but this post is not about theatre but rather, the importance knowing yourself, how best to utilise your time and the importance of saying “NO”.
I was recently having a conversation with a flat mate where I was explaining why I get so upset when people are late in replying to messages, attending meetings or just fulfilling any plans we may have made. In all types of relationships, academically and professionally, for me, being late is a deal breaker.
Whether we assign a pound value to it or not, time is so valuable. Think about it: How much of your typical work week do you spend stressed about not having enough time to complete a task or reach a goal?
When I remind my friends of their intrinsic value and try and make them understand that their happiness should not be dictated to them by someone else, I would be hard pressed to find anyone to disagree with me. However, when I talk about the value of time most people get offended as though I am suggesting their time is less valuable than my own.
This not the case however, time is limited. We have a certain amount of hours in a day therefore, when people are late they are wasting my time and are essentially wasting my money. Obviously, there are exceptions to this. However, understanding the importance of our time, how we spend it and who we spend it on, is a massive step in truly appreciating your self worth.
Ultimately, I have reached the point where I am able to value my time in terms of people and plans. Yet, when it comes to assigning myself to roles of responsibility, I don’t seem to have the same awareness. I find it difficult to prioritise what’s best for me and struggle to stop being the self-proclaimed “yes man”.
I feel as though in a university setting and often, this is also applicable in general society, people take on too much which can have a knock on effect on that individuals well being. Everyone needs time to relax and unwind. Unfortunately, though, many of us don’t get enough of it. Between university/school/jobs, family responsibilities, errands, cooking, most of us are hard-pressed to find even 10 minutes to sit and do nothing.
That is why it is so important to learn how to say no.
There are lots of different ways to tackle the issue of time management — you can download apps, adjust your sleep time, create lists, etc. I did all of this but this still did not make me a good time manager. If you don’t fully understand why it’s important for you to better manage your time, those apps and lists aren’t going to help you. If you don’t have the motivation to use them, you won’t.
People take on too much for a variety of reasons. I found it so hard to just say “NO”. Often, it can be difficult as you do not want to let people down. However, if people truly love and value you they will respect your decision and it won’t affect relationships.
Alternatively, sometimes I do too much due to misguided arrogance, I think I am the best person for the job therefore, I have to do it. There are good intentions behind this thinking however, often there are better ways to handle it.
For example, learning to delegate better and become a better leader can be helpful. It is not necessary to micromanage people all the time. Also, sometimes just taking a step back and giving other people the chance the shine can be good. They may do things differently to how you would have but will probably reach the same outcome. Realising that the whole world would not crumble without me was a painful but important step in managing my time better.
Likewise, it is important acknowledge that whilst doing lots of things can appear to be temporarily impressive, in the long term having fewer commitments can actually be better. Especially if it means that you are less stressed. Being busy does not equate to being successful.
What is the point of being present but not really there?
Surely, it is better to juggle really well with five balls and know those five balls inside out, be able to do amazing tricks with those five balls rather than being mediocre at juggling twenty balls. It is like that saying: Jack of all trades, master of none.
Likewise, saying no to certain things and making good choices with your time can also lead to better opportunities in the future. Discriminating a little more in what we say yes to can be a positive thing. It does not make you lazy.
Ultimately, your CV can only be so long and you will eventually have choose the important stuff. If you are not doing things for a purpose e.g. they make you happy/you enjoy them, they’ll help you develop a skill or lead to further oppurtunities then you may just be wasting your time.
This is something I recently realised and this led to me being more selective. I have cut back on a lot of things I do that were just repetitions of stuff I had already done before in order to make space for the new and exciting stuff that would actually challenge me and allow me to grow.
However, for some people it is actually more effective the other way round – cutting back on new stuff to get better and have more time on the old stuff you do. What is actually important is that you think about how you are spending your time.
Being busy is a part of who I am as a person and I genuinely enjoy being involved in lots of different things. However, it is so important that we also prioritise time management.
It’s just me, Dammy, taking a break