As you move into February, your semester may start to become overwhelming. Whether you are a student or professional, managing various responsibilities during the course of a semester can be challenging. Although February is the shortest month of the year by number of days, it often feels like the longest month. That feeling can often occur due to a combination of factors such as cold weather, trying to maintain new year habits and/or the pressure to manage all of your commitments. Here are three ways to manage your priorities to avoid letting your commitments get the best of you:
1. Maintain Work-life Balance
When taking on various responsibilities, it is recommended to maintain a work-life balance. If you are a student, commitments can range from academics to social life to a part time job to extra-curricular campus activities. If you are a professional, you have to juggle job responsibilities, home life, volunteer committees and more. It is key to effectively manage your priorities and maintain a firm grasp on your responsibilities. Therefore, a recommended strategy is to have an equal distribution between both levels of responsibilities. This will help avoid one area not becoming more overwhelming than the other.
This balance will assist in your overall well-being and keep stress levels low throughout your day. In addition, keeping a healthy balance between your work and life will allow for a more productive day. A helpful strategy to assist in maintaining this balance is finding de-stressors that work for you. Some recommendations for keeping your stress levels down are listening to music or podcasts, exercising, and/or taking small breaks throughout your day.
2. Learn to Say “No”
When managing your priorities, it is important to avoid overloading yourself. There are times when you will need to say “no” in order to balance your responsibilities. This concept is similar to overeating. If you eat too much, you become too full and can become sick. As the saying goes, “My eyes were bigger than my stomach.” Remembering that example, work to keep a balance of responsibilities to avoid breaking commitments.
As a higher education employee, I observe this throughout a semester. Students and professionals alike can take on too much and become unreliable when it comes to fulfilling all responsibilities. Sometimes you can feel bad about saying “no” and or not agreeing to fulfill the obligations of all roles. However, in order to maintain each responsibility, there are times to say “no” that will help manage each priority in a more effective way.
3. Identify What is Important
It is important to identify what is important to you when evaluating your priorities. This can be done by establishing your values that will affect how you manage your time. Often it is not about running out of time, it is about using your time wisely to be spent toward your important desires and priorities. A recommendation for identifying your important priorities is to complete an inventory of your current desires. What is most important to you? What do you spend the majority of your time doing? What do you want to put most of your effort into? By addressing these questions, you can establish your desires and priorities to more effectively spend your time.
Another effective strategy is to determine systems to effectively accomplish tasks toward your primary desires and priorities. A way to determine these tasks is to set goals for yourself. Ideally, these tasks and goals work in tandem together to meet your main priorities. Establishing your values, determining important priorities and mapping out goals will keep your eyes on the ultimate prize.
In conclusion, keep in mind all responsibilities and priorities are unique to the individual. Another way to look at it is to determine your personal purpose and mission statement. As you go through the cycle of life, you will move in and out of different desires and priorities. Therefore, it is key to check in with yourself and keep your priorities in perspective to be successful. I hope this serves as inspiration to finish your semester out with a bang.