Ahhh, the age-old struggle of balancing work, life and study. Or sometimes even just work and life. People will tell you to make sure you plan and schedule your time. They’ll tell you to stay on top of tasks and not procrastinate (ha, like it’s that easy). They’ll say things like ‘people who succeed are proactive and never give up’ and blah blah blah. I’m here to tell you that it’s not that easy and yes you will procrastinate, yes you will leave things to the last minute and yes you will overburden yourself with tasks and piss off friends and family because you go MIA for 2 weeks finishing assignments at the last minute. Look it’s not all that bleak, I have some practical advice to help you cope. For the past 3 years, I have been doing the work, life, study juggling act. I’ve also decided to throw in the whole ‘trying to be a performer’ thing so I’m pretty much a one-woman Cirque Du Soleil act. I’ve been completing my degree online, dance teaching, trying to be a performer, getting married and trying to have some sort of semblance of a social life. I’ve found myself struggling with how to balance it all. I’ve thought about whether or not to quit my job to focus on performing. Whether or not to lessen my study load to focus on my job or whether or not to put performing on hold until I finish my degree. Somehow I managed to continue to do everything but not without a few breakdowns, dramatic claims of failing at life and week-long Netflix binges to ease the pain.
Here are 3 helpful, practical and honest tips for juggling work, life, study and ‘trying to be a performer’.
Number 1: Don’t be a hero.
A single human can only do so much before they experience so much stress and pressure they end up face down on their bed crying and wondering how the hell they are supposed to read 50 pages of theory when they have to go to work to make money and live. Oh, and on top of that prepare for auditions to try and get a job doing what we really want to do. Seriously, be kind to yourself you don’t need to be able to do everything all at in one day. It really bothers me when I see people all over social media who go on and on about how busy they are and about all the things they do in their day. Like, do you sleep or eat? These people seem so productive and capable and all I’ve done all day is read a bit, drink coffee, lie on the couch and I’m already tired and need 5 naps. Apparently, these people have done sunrise yoga, a weights session, gone to their important day job, had an acting class, gone to another performance-based job, done some housework, cooked, went out for wine, done some deep life thinking and posted inspirational quotes on Insta and fed the homeless. Let’s be honest, are these people really all that busy? No, they are attention seekers. Don’t be a hero, it’s ok to take your time and work through things at your own pace. If you need to take a 2-hour break and re-watch episodes of Gossip Girl then so be it. Don’t feel bad if you haven’t gotten through absolutely everything in one day.
Number 2: Don’t try to force yourself out of procrastination.
Procrastination is death. Trying to force yourself out of procrastinating is also death. Pretty much you’re screwed. Kidding! You’re only a little bit screwed. When I’m bombarded with a multitude of tasks and deadlines my brain does this wonderful thing where it decides to shut down and not work. Instead of being able to focus on one task I can’t stop thinking about everything all at once and then all of a sudden I just can’t think! And now, I’m procrastinating. Then I’ll find myself sitting on the couch staring into space or watching Netflix. One thing I’ve learnt to do in situations like this is to seriously only tackle two things a day, one at most if I’m feeling particularly stressed. You end up setting yourself up to achieve things rather than fail and it puts you in a better frame of mind. It actually helps productivity for the rest of the day or week. I like to keep a notebook with me so if I find myself thinking about other things I write it down to deal with later. I also set myself achievable tasks. For example, if I have to read something for uni I tell myself to read 10 pages and write notes. I achieve that and then feel great for the achievement and sometimes get more done than I planned. It’s cute, I say things to myself like, ‘well done Veronica, you deserve another coffee’.
Number 3. Remember why you’re doing this to yourself
It’s easy to forget why we would inflict this kind of torture on ourselves. Who in their right might would want to be in their late 20s and writing essays for university? Who in their right mind would be pursuing a performing arts career? Wouldn’t life be much easier if we all just got nice sensible jobs in an office? No, no it wouldn’t. We would be bored sh*tless and be hating life if we were stuck in an office from 9-5. We are creative and restless humans who need to do different and fulfilling things to stay content. Let’s embrace that! We have the opportunity to do things like getting a degree online or auditioning for shows. There are so many people in the world who don’t have that chance. Embrace these opportunities and live life to the fullest. We are doing this because we love it and more importantly because we can.
Ok, it’s time for some real talk…
We tend to dissect every aspect of everything we do to make sure it matches our ‘end goal’. Things are never good enough for us and as a result, we never end up being good enough for ourselves. We chastise ourselves for not being proactive enough and for succumbing to inevitable periods of procrastination. We look at other people’s journeys and wonder why the hell we aren’t as ‘successful’ yet. My question is, how do you even begin to measure your own success? What is a success and how can you define it for yourself? Is it money or accolades or other people’s perceptions of us? Is it perhaps our own perceptions of ourselves? When I decided to get my degree so many people asked me what degree I was getting, why I was getting it and what job I hope to gain from it. I didn’t want to get a degree for a job I wanted to get a degree for myself because I could. I wanted to learn to become a better human and hopefully open more doors for my artistic endeavours. If we decide to let ourselves experience things and enrich our lives rather than always striving for a goal or a success we will end up succeeding more than we initially set out.
Moral of the story?
It’s ok if we can’t juggle it all. It’s ok to want to spend days curled up on the couch with your cat watching bad television. It’s also ok to dream and have goals but let’s all try to be kinder to ourselves about it.