When you were a kid, your whole life belonged to you. You were the center of a much smaller universe. And when childhood seemed overwhelming, you had your parents and teachers to support you.
Nowadays, you're raising kids of your own. Their health and happiness is your primary concern. You might also live with a husband, a wife, a boyfriend or a girlfriend. He or she needs daily doses of your time in order to feel loved and appreciated.
On top of these family-based roles, you maintain a job, which means that managers, clients, and coworkers count on you for work-related contributions. Most of your waking hours, in fact, are spent at your office. So it's not surprising that work tends to consume your thoughts.
Add college classes to the mix, and it's clear that you're a person who wears many hats. Instead of feeling frazzled by the demands of your numerous roles, try to revision them. The following bullets can help you minimize wasted time and undue stress.
As a parent…
- Bring back family meetings
If you're old enough to remember The Brady Bunch, you might recall the family meeting strategy that helped the Brady's work through their ups and downs. It sounds corny, but family meetings actually work — especially when they become a habit that kids and adults can enjoy.
Try to sit down with your family at least once a week. (Sunday nights are an ideal time for family meetings because everyone feels refreshed after the weekend.) Use the opportunity to discuss upcoming events, family member accomplishments, household concerns, and progress reports.
Whenever possible, balance negative items with positive items, so meetings don't become associated with discipline and bad news. You might also put older kids in charge of long-term research projects. For example: what kind of dog would they like to adopt, or which new computer should you purchase for your family den? They'll feel more involved in household decisions, and they'll learn to weigh family needs above their own individual needs.
As a student…
- Use your school's resources
Don't waste time second guessing your school work, or struggling to fix a computer glitch on your own. Ask for help! A few minutes of investigating can save you valuable hours. Visit your school's Web site or ask your advisor about student service programs. Peer tutoring, tech support, career advising, and research assistance are commonly provided by online schools.
As an employee…
- Get involved with a company club or committee
Taking on additional commitments at work may sound counterintuitive when you're trying to save time, but a little extra participation can go a long way towards building good relationships at your office. Join the company softball team, offer to help with the company culture committee, or send your ideas to the newsletter coordinator.
The advantage of getting involved is that more people will know you on a personal level. And you'll get to know more about your coworkers. They don't have to be your BFFs, but you'll find that the workday is more tolerable when you're surrounded by friendly faces.
As a spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend…
- Acknowledge the time challenges
When you start college, your personal relationships may suffer a bit. You'll have to sacrifice some of your free time habits — like watching television with your husband, going out to dinner with your wife, or attending sporting events with your friends. It's best to address these changes as soon as possible. Your significant other will feel more validated if you acknowledge that this time is important, and that you intend to reclaim it as soon as your schedule offers more flexibility.
As the household manager…
- Combine exercise and to-do items
Never mind "Whistle While Your Work." Instead, try sweating while you work. Your health should be a priority no matter how busy your schedule becomes. And regular exercise can help to diffuse your stress and improve your quality of sleep.
Walking is one exercise that's conducive to multitasking. Save all your phone calls for your workout hour. Make your dentist appointment, call your mother — you can even plan your child's birthday: all while you're cruising around the neighborhood.
Remember: it's easy to lose track of time when you're on the phone. But it's often difficult to keep moving during your exercise routine. If you combine the two projects, both can be accomplished with ease and efficiency.