It is possible to keep sane in the midst of a deluge of emails. You just need to follow a couple of guidelines.Read More
Inbox Zero isn’t a myth. It can be achieved if you’re diligent and use some of Outlook’s powerful functions.Read More
I am one of those annoying creatures that bounce out of bed in the morning with a smile on my face. But I’ve not always been this way.Read More
Some time ago, I came across an article by a well-known indie author who said that to succeed as an indie author, you'd have to write fast. How fast? Six to eight novels a year. The common advice used to be four. Now the number has doubled! Crazy!Read More
In a recent group writing retreat, I noticed that my fellow writers would sit still, their eyes focused on their laptops, busy at work. I, on the other hand, was a ball of nervous energy, getting up every ten minutes, fighting the urge to talk, check Facebook - anything but write my novel.Read More
I was having coffee with my friend the other day when I told him that I have this burning desire to sign up for figure-drawing classes. He took one look me and said: "Don't take up anything before running it by me first!"
It's actually a good idea. He had recently seen me stressed out of my mind trying to juggle work, studies, and banking and legal matters. It would seem that I need someone else to tell me that a new project or hobby is the last thing I needed!
Being an ENFP, I have a tendency to hop from one shiny project to another. I often end up frazzled, over-busy, exhausted and burned out.
My relationships suffered too.
The other day, my mom complained that she hardly sees me anymore. Our occasional breakfasts and morning walks was sacrificed to the altar of my studies.
This was no way to live.
Time is a precious resource, and I think I need to learn to say NO a bit more. So, before taking on that extra project, here are some questions to ask:
1. Do you have unfinished projects?
If your schedule is already choked up with obligations, having another on heaped on your already full plate is a bad idea. Read my previous post about Harvard's formula to find out if you're over-committed.
2. How many hours does this project demand?
Determine how many hours this new project will require and consider if you can take it on without harming the execution of your other projects. You will lose your credibility if you can't commit 100% to a work project, so if your new project interferes with previous commitments, say no.
3. Does this project contribute to your goals or is it a distraction?
For example, your idea of taking that knitting class will probably not contribute to your dream of publishing a sci-fi novel. So, if I'm already overloaded, I may pass on that class. For now.
4. Do you have margin?
Margin is extra, unscheduled time that you can use if emergencies crop up. Your schedule needs breathing room too; a schedule without one would ensure that you'll feel frazzled and rushed. (My month of hell is a big testament to that.) Schedule margin in your diary. Make them "do not touch" blocks of time. But what if there are no emergencies? Well, you can use the time to do whatever you want, such as take a walk in the park of watching a movie! How awesome is that?
5. What are you sacrificing if you take this on?
Let's say your side project would require you sacrificing weekends with your family for a year. Is this a sacrifice you are willing to me? Is there another way to reschedule family commitments?
How about you? What are the questions you ask yourself before you take on a project or a hobby? What do you do to make sure that you're not sacrificing the quality of your life by taking on too much?
Photo by AnnieAnniePancake
In July, my life was hell.
In a way, it was a long time coming.
Three months before, I moved back to Malaysia after three years of living in Australia. The decision wasn't easy to make. In fact, I had spent sleepless nights since July 2014 wrestling with the idea.
Adelaide was quiet, peaceful and gorgeous. But I was terribly homesick and felt that my dreams were struggling to be realised there. In the end, I took the leap. I wanted to return to steadier, more familiar grounds in order to seek clarity and direction.
I came back way too fast. Not a great idea. But once I returned, it felt right. I enjoyed being with my friends and family again. Better, I was offered a job before I even hopped into a plane back to KL in May. I felt lucky. Blessed.
But life speeded up very quickly after that. Too quickly.
My new job's hours were unconventional: I work 4pm to midnight. Always a fussy sleeper, my sleep was affected. At best, I was sleeping five to six hours a day.
Then I had to settle several very messy financial issues. I had to zip from lawyer to bank to insurance company. And if that wasn't enough, I was also studying part-time; an intense course that demanded at least 10 to 15 hours weekly.
In July, my body said: "Enough. If you don't want to stop. I will".
Boy, did it! Rashes erupted on my body in places I wouldn't t wish upon my greatest enemy. My ears even turned red!
If things were hard before, it became utterly impossible with this illness. I could barely cope with my studies because the constant itch and pain cut my sleep short. All my attention went to finding a solution to my problem, which seemed to puzzle even the specialists. I stopped writing my novel. Swimming was something I took pleasure in. And even that was taken away because my body was reacting to everything.
It was hell.
Three rounds of antibiotics, five visits to specialists and a few hundred spent on ointments and creams later, a dermatologist narrowed the cause down to eczema and a bad reaction to antibiotics .
Eczema is often stress-related, what do you know!
At first, my reaction to all this was, "This is so unfair! Why me? Why now?" But in the end, I realised that a series choices ended me where I was. Fortunately, I'm almost recovered now. The nightmare that was July taught me these lessons:
Make Health a priority
Often, we pursue our dreams at the expense of our health. But when you're ill, you can't pursue what's important to your soul.
You're not Supergirl
In hindsight, I could have deferred my course as I had so much on my plate. But I was reluctant to lose the money I had invested in the course. I basically prioritised money over my wellbeing.
Money isn't everything
So what if you lose a few dollars? Sometimes you need to make yourself a priority, not your piggy bank.
It's time to be selfish
I also realised that I often make my decisions based on other people's well-being. It's time to be selfish and put myself in the No.1 spot.
It is time to change
I now consider it a gift that I fell sick. My body was warning me that I wasn't doing something right. It was time to reevaluate and make some serious changes.
What about you? Have you reached a breaking point where you realised that things had to change?
Photo by Eutah