In the spring of last year, I collapsed on the sofa in my dorm’s living room and Skyped my boyfriend. “Ken,” I said into the phone, “I feel like I’m not doing enough.”
“I think you’re doing too much,” he replied.
Together, we made a list of all the projects and commitments I was juggling at the time. I realized that Ken was right; the reason I constantly felt like I wasn’t doing enough was because I was demanding too much of myself. Every day, every hour of my life was filled to the brim with things. Some of them, I loved and delighted in, like flying to the Netherlands for spring break to see my boyfriend, or putting together care packages for friends. Others were a lot more draining, like writing my final papers for school or doing my research job. And most of them were in the middle: things I had chosen to do, and enjoyed doing, which could totally drain me. All my blog and writing work fell in that category.
After talking over my many projects with Ken, I decided to implement a new policy: No New Projects. For the next three months, I was not allowed to start or take on anything new. When it was over, on June 1st, I could add new things for summer. And, I assumed, in the fall I would do the same.
It worked pretty well for me – I got a lot done that spring, but didn’t have the constantly-drowning feeling I’d had before. In the summer, I was busy as ever, but still felt on top of my game. So when September rolled around, I didn’t feel the need to have a No New Projects policy.
We are now currently three weeks into my semester, and currently, my projects include: my academic commitments; the THREE (!) websites that I’ve founded and run by myself; my business, which owns those websites; the multiple organizations in which I have leadership positions on campus; and, you know, sleeping, eating, and maintaining a social life. I’m also writing a book, going to a presidential summit this week, and flying to Chicago next weekend for a conference. And I’m trying to eat more vegetables.
As you can imagine, I’m a little bit tired.
Finally, after weeks of burning the candle at both ends (and in the middle), I had yet another conversation with Ken about my comitments. As I lay in bed, eyes closed, barely having the energy to have a full conversation, I muttered a familiar phrase:
“I feel like I’m not doing enough.”
Ken, bless him, gently talked me into taking a nap, and when I woke up, told me once again that I might be doing just a tad too much. Had I considered a No New Projects policy for this semester? Grumpily, I admitted that he was right. For the rest of the semester, it’s no new projects for me.
Luckily, I finished a few projects this weekend: a major commitment for my role as Vice President of my dorm, a big commitment for my role on a council at my college, and a study that I wrote for my Seasons Illustrated site. But until my schedule resets at the end of the semester this December, I’m taking a step back from taking on new things. For me, it’s not just a practical choice (I need to sleep!), but also a spiritual one: because when we live our lives constantly doing and making, we forget how to just be. Especially for my last semester of college, I want to make sure that I’m spending enough time experiencing and enjoying life, because that’s what life is for: not just to push and pull, or to make and do, but to be and love. And for me, that’s enough.