Everyone needs a little bit of order in their lives.
When am I going to be productive? When am I going to be social? When will I take some time to just relax? When will I spend time on my hobbies or personal goals?
These are all questions that every one has probably answered for themselves, whether or not it was a conscious self discussion. Unfortunately, for people whose schedules shift often, answering these questions can become a source of anxiety or, if left unanswered, they can lead to an unhealthy balance of lifestyle choices.
For the sake of this article, I am going to use college students as my example at-risk demographic for this cause of stress. That being said, I know people entering a new career, welcoming a new family member, taking on a new project, etc. may experience the exact same feelings.
The start of a new year, or a new semester always comes with an enormous scheduling shift. About three months ago, I finally got my class, work, and social calendars synced, only to be sent on winter break and adopt a new schedule entirely by the end of January.
I’ve tried planners, wall calendars, color-coded pens and markers, and the life-saving Outlook calendar provided to me by my school email address. None of it prevents the inevitable two weeks (or more) that I have to spend forgetting appointments, missing deadlines, or just feeling like I have forgotten something when I absolutely haven’t.
Every five months or so, I have to rearrange my entire life, and it’s one of the worst causes of daily anxiety I know.
My sleeping schedule gets thrown off — the one I just finally got used to after the first three months of my last schedule. I also have to get my body used to a new eating routine. Last semester it was no breakfast, big lunch, small dinner; now, I’m doing rushed or no breakfast, no lunch, and enormous dinner to make up for my forgetting to eat the first two thirds of the day. I end up panicked at the end of each week, regretting not using the little pockets of free time I carved out more effectively. It isn’t healthy.
I haven’t figure out the remedy to this yet, but I thought it was worth writing about because I know it’s a common experience for people who don’t have a consistent routine for their lifestyle. Everything I do has to come in increments of five months — max. Otherwise, I can’t commit to it, and it ends up falling off my way-too-crowded plate.