Balancing the Juggling Act

Hi lovelies! MAP tests are done and we had a half day today, which was AWESOME. (Hint: I spent most of it reading. No shame, amiright? ;) ) But also, the first of my projects and most of the second one is finished, so all I have to do tomorrow is finish up the second and study for my math test! Yay! :D

I was chatting with my friend today when he mentioned that he was considering starting a blog and asked me for some tips - specifically, he wanted to know how I managed to keep everything running while still maintaining my sanity/not collapsing from exhaustion. After all, there's this blog and YA Asylum to write, The Teacup Trail submissions to critique, homework to do, tests to study for, instruments to practise, songs to compose, manuscripts to edit, etc, etc, etc. And of course, that's added onto volunteering and hanging out with my friends and reading books and all that other stuff that I probably could survive without, but I wouldn't really be very happy. So he wanted to know what my secret was.

And so, grudgingly, I told him: I don't sleep.


... I'm joking, of course. ;) Contrary to what appears to be popular belief (seriously, I do believe my friends think I never sleep), there's really no big secret. But there are a couple of things that have worked quite well for me, and since I tend to be asked this question a lot, I figured why not address it here?

So here's a metaphor, because who doesn't love metaphors, right? Let's look at life like a juggling act - we have all these balls to keep in the air, but the more balls there are, the harder it is to keep them all from tumbling down.

So here they are: my main tips for balancing the juggling act of life.

Be uber-organised.

I admit I used to be a HUGE procrastinator (heck, I still am to some extent - you're looking at the girl who waited until the last day to do a three-week project and then polished it off in two hours), but I've had to eliminate a lot of that in order to get things done. I keep two to-do lists on my laptop - oh the wonders of technology! - one titled "To Do Today" and the other "To Do Everyday". The latter consists of things I need to do every single day - for example, writing the blog or editing FH - while the former is updated on a day-to-day basis. And Google Calendar is my saviour. I schedule blog posts as well as school and volunteering events or even things I've been putting off for awhile - I've found it's hugely motivating to have it right there waiting for me on the day I assign it to.

Take breaks. Often.

I use the Pomodoro method of working - I work nonstop for 25 minutes, then take a break for five minutes, and on and off until three consecutive sessions have passed. At that point I take a longer break (usually 15 minutes). It's worked amazingly well for me - it's much easier to get things done when I know that there's a break in my future!

Prioritise, prioritise, prioritise.

I learned that one from my mom, who's basically the queen of lists. For my To-Do lists, I tend to write them in order of priority, so I know exactly what needs to be done TODAY and what can wait. That way I know that if some things aren't finished yet, they actually weren't that important anyway. And of course, they go to the top of the list the next day so that nothing ever stays waiting too long. :D

Make time for things you love.

I don't know about you guys, but when I don't play guitar for more than a week I get really cranky and annoyed with everything. Same with when I don't read for long enough. Or write anything. It's the little things that you love that can really push you through things that you don't - so schedule a time for them. Maybe it means that a couple of things get moved to the end of the list, but I can guarantee that if you're in a good mood, you're going to do them better anyway.

Keep your space clean.

I love my little sister. I really, really do. What I DON'T love is the way her desk looks - like some giant baby had a temper tantrum and started throwing things helter-skelter, all over the place. (She claims it's clean enough, but if you guys saw it I promise you'd agree with me. ;) ) This could just be me, but I need to have a clean desk to work - if it's disorganised I just can't concentrate. I also keep post-its with some of my favourite lyrics and notes from friends as well as little snowglobes and things around my desk - it's an area where I can let loose with the creativity, and it works for me to have those things as moral support.

And remember: music never hurts.

You guys, I am 100% serious about this. I can't even tell you the amount of times my family has scared me to death by creeping up on me when I was listening to music and concentrating really hard on something. Here's a good collection of study playlists, if you don't know where to start, and here's another one if you're into more instrumental things (though I use that one more for reading).

... and that's my list, lovelies! So what do you think? Did I miss anything? Any more tips for my newbie blogger friend? I'd love to hear your thoughts on how you balance your juggling act. xx

love, Topaz