Advice from a workaholic: find balance

My phone buzzes and a message from my friend pops up, asking if I want to watch a movie tonight. I sigh in frustration; mere minutes ago I made plans with another group of friends, despite the fact that I will be working down to the wire on Saturday.

Even though I know I cannot watch the movie, I try to find some free time in my day for my friend. I debate whether I should cancel the plans I just made. I struggle with FOMO, the fear of missing out. Full of doubt and trying not to second-guess myself, I text my friend and tell her I cannot watch a movie tonight.

You have probably experienced a similar situation in your own life. Between balancing school, a social life and health, keeping up with everything and not running yourself into the ground can be tough. I’ve heard it doesn’t get any easier after college, and I have a suspicion that balance is what we are all really trying to learn while in school.

Even though I feel pretty balanced most of the time, I find myself slipping up more than I would like. I go whole days sometimes without seeing some of my friends. I forget to call my grandparents. I never make it to the mailroom in time to send my friend a care package. Sometimes I skip a meal to work instead. I forget to read my Bible.

I like to stay busy, but sometimes this busyness distracts me from the more important things I should be doing. At JBU, the word “intentional” gets used a lot, but it is important to remember: sometimes we have to stop doing what we are doing and schedule intentional time to see friends, call home or read a devotional.

Sometimes we try to balance our lives by multitasking. However, going to the cardio room and listening to my Christian music while reading for Faith and Politics does not kill three birds with one stone. I end up devoting a percentage of my efforts to each of those tasks instead of giving each my full attention, leaving me unfulfilled and still worn out.

Maximizing time can be efficient, but sometimes it backfires. So if multitasking doesn’t always work, you’re worried about missing out on something fun, your bed is calling your name and there are still only 24 hours in a day, what do you do?

Stop. Stop what you’re doing and stop what you’re thinking. Breathe. Now keep reading.

No matter how many things are going on in your life, everything will work out how it is meant to work out. If you don’t get to go to that hall event or concert in Tulsa, it is not the end of the world. If you fail your philosophy paper, life will go on. Your friends won’t hate you for not going to see a movie with them.

If you are completely overwhelmed, ask for help or see if you can lighten your load. Maybe you won’t be able to be in 3 clubs this semester. Or if you are always the one asking your friends to hang out, evaluate your free time and see if there is something you can do to help your stressed out friends. Do their dishes or run to Walmart for them. Write them an encouraging note and put it in their mailbox.

Balance is something everyone struggles with, so if you are overwhelmed, know that there are people who can empathize with you and help you. We are all trying to figure out how to balance our lives between work, fun and taking care of ourselves. Ultimately, we have to remember that balance is not something we achieve, but work at constantly.