Let's admit it: We want to do everything. We want to accomplish everything we set our minds out to do, and we want to make everyone happy. We want to make time for all the classes we want to take, all of the jobs and extracurriculars we want to do, and all of the friends we want to spend time with.
Except… have you ever tried doing all of that, and making sure you get enough time and space to eat and sleep? It's not easy.
I often find that when I try to "do everything," I wind up exhausted at the end of the day. But why do I, and perhaps you, make that attempt?
It's probably because we feel a sense of excitement when we push our own boundaries, or because we want to take advantage of every opportunity given to us. Maybe it's also because we want to make people around us - and by extension, ourselves - happy.
Don't get me wrong, those are very good things that help us become better people! It just so happens that doing this all the time, every single day for month after month, uses up a lot of energy. And if you're not taking time for yourself, that's going to leave you very drained.
It's like driving from New York to San Francisco. You're really excited to make the journey across the country, and you want to enjoy every minute of it. That said, do you drive nonstop? No, of course not.
Why? Because you need to be alert on the road, and you need a functioning car. This is why you take breaks to eat, stop, and stretch your legs. It's also why you fill up on gas every 6 to 8 hours or so. If you didn't do that, either you would run out of steam, or the car would break down, or both. In other words, you're taking breaks in order to get the job done.
So why shouldn't we be able to do that on a day-to-day basis?
You're probably thinking, I want to be able to do everything! I do, too, and if it were up to me, I would be running at full-cylinders all the time. But I know from experience that I can't do that, and that I need to be aware of how much I can take, because if I don't, then I'll lose steam. And when that happens, I won't be able to do anything.
What I have learned is that it's very important to be aware of your limits, set boundaries for yourself, and make sure to take breaks.
If you're doing a bucketload of activities and you find that they don't excite you the way they used to, or that you're crashing at the end of each day, that's not healthy. You might want to rethink how you handle your load, and cut out things that you don't really enjoy or find necessary.
When it comes to setting boundaries for yourself, sometimes you have to say no. It may be very awkward for you to do so because you don't want others to be disappointed and you don't want to disappoint yourself. But if you go beyond your limits and don't set boundaries for yourself, you'll overload yourself. You'll take on too much, and you won't do things particularly well. This is why it is very important to be assertive (and polite) when you say no.
Finally, it's very important to take breaks so you can actually produce good work. If you slog through when you don't have to, you'll tire yourself out and you'll become sloppy. The problem comes with knowing when to take breaks. If you can, try to schedule breaks during your day so that you can take a walk or read a fun book. Also, break up your study time into chunks of intense focus. I find that the Pomodoro technique works for me (where I study for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break). And if you're in a situation where it's harder to schedule your breaks. Again, know your limits and set boundaries for yourself.
Above all, take care of yourself.