I recently was successful at gaining a volunteer position as a state coordinator for an NGO, which is my fifth on-going job (along with my PhD, chairperson position, netball coach, blogger & other general academic things) and I also hold three other positions at different times throughout the year (bookstore, marking & other environmental volunteering). Working all these jobs obviously means that I am busy and have to squeeze a lot of tasks into my weeks. So how exactly am I managing to do that?
1) I have become a queen at task switching, not multitasking- I have learnt that trying to do too many things at the same time makes you both time inefficient and also produces lower quality work. Therefore, instead of multitasking I switch between multiple tasks during the day. The most important difference between multitasking and task switching is that I wear a different ‘hat’ for each task that I do, meaning that I give my full attention to the one task I am doing for the set time. I ensure that I allocate the required time to each task and do each task the best I can.
2) I know when to let things go- I think most PhD students have a level of perfectionism when it comes to their work and I am no exception. However, I have learnt to know when to let go of a piece of work (whether that be to a journal for submission, a draft to a supervisor, an important email, or a document for my volunteering roles), and accept this is as good as it will currently be. Fussing over minor details will only waste excessive amounts of time.
3) I have long days- I cannot lie and say I am so organised and productive that I fit so much work into an 8 hour working day, because in truth I hardly ever have days shorter than 10 hours. I always try to get to work early and squeeze an extra hour and half in before it even hits 9oclock!
4) Somethings have to give! I can also not lie and say that I am on top of every aspect of my life, somethings do give. For me that is often gym and house work! I am not at all perfect and I am happy to admit that my house is not always spotless and I sometimes eat frozen meals. I am lucky that my partner does a lot of the cleaning, but we have also just accept that some Saturdays we would rather skip mopping to go surfing.
5) Little cheats at home- Whilst on the topic of housework, I always try to use little cheats at home- such as cooking enough dinner for two nights (so that the next night I don’t need to worry about dinner). This means that there is more me time (which is super important for my selfcare).
6) I am organised- I use “to do lists” and my diary is always attached to my hip. This is imperative as no matter how on top of things you are, if you are busy and trying to fit so many different tasks into your life you will forget things if you don’t write them down.
7) I have surrounded myself with understanding people- My friends, family, and partner understand that I am busy and sometimes cannot commit to events. It is however important to note that I try to see all these people as much as I can, but it is great to know that they understand if I can’t.