After a long day of knocking door to door and showing off your latest costume, what did you do with all the candy you’ve collected? Did you dump all your candy on the floor to look at all your favorite candies and count how much you got? I did. Every Halloween, I would go home with sore feet and I would run with my brother to our living room and empty out my whole bucket of candy (and wrappers of candies I ate on the walk). My brother would dump all of his candy out next to me and we would both complain about whose is whose because the two mountains of candy would blend into each other. And of course, we did a candy exchange!
For those of you who never did a candy exchange, we would set up our “shop” by sorting out all our candy into two groups: the ones we definitely want to keep and the ones up for trade. I might trade five Crunch bars for one Snicker and he might trade three Smarties for one Kit Kat. It was great because when a Crunch bar may mean nothing to me, it would mean a lot to my brother, and the same for Reese’s for me. We could easily trade different candies with each other based on what everything was worth. We determined together how much everything was worth (based on each of us) and found a way to make the best of our candy.
Now that we’re adults, our schedules are busier. We have a hard time carrying everything all on our plates. We try to find ways to fit the most important things without overloading ourselves and we have a hard time deciding what to do in a time crunch. I think the candy exchange is helpful in these situations. Just like trading candy, we need to find the worth of everything we’re doing, figure out what’s worth trading for what, and find a way to make the most out of our day.
Knowing the worth of your candy can be a difficult part of the candy exchange process, just as it is for us with tasks. We want to have all our candies. We want to do all our tasks. I usually start by numbering these tasks. When my brother and I exchanged candies, we would always start by putting our favorite candies aside. For me, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups were always off the trade list and for my brother it was Snickers. The worth of tasks (and candy alike) can be different for each of us. If it is still unclear to you, I would start by ordering your tasks by its due date. Put those that need to be done immediately/today at the top of your list or #1 of what needs to be done. If you have tasks that have no real due date but you want to get them done as soon as possible, look at your schedule and see what you can really fit in today, tomorrow, or this week. This list is our starting point and is subject to change.
You have a big project you need to get done tomorrow, but also have five smaller assignments due tomorrow. Weigh them out. What is worth more to you? What do you have time for? This part can be complicated. Sometimes to get the candy you want, you have to trade in another candy you wanted. Do I have enough Smarties to trade some for Kit Kats? Can I trade in those three homework assignments for studying for a midterm, or am I having more difficulty in the other class and need to complete the homework instead?
Communication is important here. Just as I talked to my brother about the worth of each of our candies, talk to your boss, professor, or whoever to help you understand what you should put on your plate right now. And of course, if you’re feeling overwhelmed talk to them about the deadline and an extension. Asking for extensions tends to make us feel incompetent,but remember that we’re all human and all suffer the force of time. The anxiety before asking is normal, but there are ways to combat this. Check out one of our older blog posts on Healing with Intention: Anxiety. Communicating with others can help us understand what should go first and what we need to trade. Even if your professor or superior says that you need to get it all done, at least you can evaluate the importance of each task based on their response. Then, you can evaluate with your time and other tasks to figure out how to fit it into your schedule or if you just need to accept that you may not get it done in time and that’s okay.
Don’t forget to add your self-care to your list of things to do. Whether you just need an hour of TV to relax after a long day, or you need a day/week/etc. off, don’t put these last! You might think your self-care can wait, but it really can’t. Have you ever heard the saying “You can’t save the world if you can’t save yourself?” Well, it’s true, if you want to get everything done, you need to care for yourself first. Burnout will only hurt your productivity and accuracy with your work. Practice self-care as often as you need it and if you’re having trouble determining how long you need it, you probably could benefit from a break.
If you’re still having a hard time determining the worth of your tasks, relax for a minute. Give yourself a real chance to breathe before you analyze what matters to you. According to Forbes, the best thing you can do to save time is to do nothing. Being active could push you to jump into the next task right after your last one. Give yourself a chance to appreciate the work you’ve done and clear your mind. During the candy exchange, I wouldn’t jump right into another trade after the last, I would eat my candy or appreciate my candy pile. Let's be real though, I wasn’t sitting there and clearing my mind before trading candy with my brother when I was seven years old. However, I would look over my whole pile of candy and take a second to redetermine what I wanted to trade now. Now that I have more Kit Kats, do I really want to trade those Starbursts for more, or will I keep what I have? Clear your mind first and then look back at your tasks (only when you’ve settled into nothingness), and see if your order has changed and what you need now.
Just as I would make the most of my candy exchange, these tips have helped me make the most of my day. Harvesting these skills takes a while so be patient with yourself. We all make mistakes and it’s okay to not be able to do it all. Take a breath and accept that we’re only human and we are not perfect nor can we do everything we want to in a day. Even if you feel short on time, take a breath and take claim of some time for yourself to recognize all that you’ve done.
Comment below which tip is most helpful to you and what you can trade this week to help you manage your time!
About the Author
Sierra is a senior at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) where she studies English. She enjoys writing and reading with a passion. She is especially passionate about sustainability and human rights and she hopes to use her writing to inspire others in these movements. As an intern at LYF, Sierra is happy for the opportunity to contribute to these topics. When not reading or writing, she can be found playing video games or binge-watching TV. The things she loves most include strawberries, new stationery, and her bed.