Project x Project: Balancing Act

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

This is just a short post that's going to roll in under the radar - I've been trying to furiously catch up on word count today, so I've written 3000+ words and have come up to 25,150. I need to be at 30,006 by tomorrow at midnight, so between then and now I have to write about 5000 words to catch up. Never fear though! I think I can do it, and do it well.
But, I wanted to talk about how it is to balance a really busy personal life with a really busy professional/academic life because I have to do that pretty much every day of my Barnard life.
I think that strategizing is always really important if you want to undertake something outside of your prescribed work that isn't considered a "leisure activity." For me, writing and blogging is slowly becoming part of my personal "work," just like making arts and crafts is both for love and profit. So, some strategies that I try to employ (albeit, not always consistently) will follow below:

1. Know your busy days and give yourself a break during those
I know that for me, Thursday is my longest day (9am to 9pm!), so I try to do any homework I have before or after that day so that I can just chill in the middle

2. Make time that is solely for your personal project(s), make time that is solely for your professional/academic project(s), and make time just for goofing off!
When you want to be a successful Barnard woman, or a successful person anywhere, it can sometimes feel like you have no time for anything else. You are consumed by work. But I think that making a specific time for things like hanging around on your bed, picking out your morning clothes, or just doing simple relaxing things are not just fun, but they're necessary to keeping you sane.

3. Don't stick with an activity that you hate
Just because you're involved with it doesn't mean that you have to stay. Sure, it's hard to quit something, but the assessment question is always: will it make me more happy to replace this with something else? That something else could be free time OR another project - that is up to you.

4. Prioritization is key
I've said it before and I've said it again: lists, prioritized lists especially, are the way to force yourself to achieve in any situation.

5. Put yourself in "dangerous" situations sometimes
Risk taking is something that is super important when you are doing any sort of project. On a personal level, my risk-taking involves making friendships that are concrete and lasting here. That is hard for me to do because I'm afraid of being hurt sometimes. But how else can you reach out in that situation? For whatever goal you're working on, take small risks that lead to bigger ones, and make sure that everything you do feels right.

6. Finally, and most importantly, it's OK to fail!!
Failure is part of the process too. Do you think that my NaNo novel is going to come out with a glowing halo on it? No way! It's going to be a steaming pile of something you don't want to get on your shoe, but if I really want it to shine, I'll work on it till the bitter end, and if I don't, I'll chalk it up to failure and move on. I think that the most important thing about failure is letting it happen, letting it wash over you, and then letting yourself be free of those complex emotions surrounding it.

That's it for tonight! Maybe I'll come up with more tips later on, but for now, I'm going to sleep!

If you liked this post, you may also be interested in some other lessons I've learned, including 3 Ways I Beat Writer's Block to a Pulp.