Wiz Khalifa once said, “Work Hard, Play Hard,” but I want to propose a modification to that wildly popular saying by making it, “Work Smart, Play Smart.” Growing up, I thought hard work makes the (wo)man, and it’s only when you push yourself to be the best version you can be that things start aligning the way they’re supposed to. Now, don’t get me wrong, pushing yourself is definitely important, but so is making things easy for yourself.
I’ve always been a firm believer in study guides. I thought the best way to study was to go back and review every single thing the professor or lecturer said, make notes, and from that, make a study guide. I think I’d seen a friend do this in middle school, and I thought if she does it, so should I. In college and especially in the quarter system I realized that it is not the most sustainable way to go about life. More often than not, things get in the way, be it more work or even just an evening off because you feel like it. I had to opt for different means of exam review and cater my studying habits to the class I was taking and match that with how busy I was during that week. I also realized it wasn’t the best study method for me because I was a different type of learner. For a long time I put myself down for that, thinking I wasn’t studying and working “right” and because that’s how my friend was successful if I spread myself a little thinner I might be able to get more out of the day, have more time to study and thus, make full-fledged study guides like her too. Until, one day, I realized it didn’t matter what worked for someone else. I was still managing to get the grades I wanted with the modified system I had created for myself. Just because one thing worked for someone else doesn’t mean that exact thing was going to work for me in that exact way.
I faced a similar situation when it came to meal prepping. I used to think storing food and eating it was bad because it was “old” food and I should cook each day instead. Ultimately, my days became so busy that cooking every single day three times a day wasn’t viable anymore. I had to start meal prepping, or at the very least cooking a little extra to have for the next day otherwise, my meals consisted of an assortment of snacks or the more expensive option: takeout. Meal planning made my life easier for some weeks, and not so easy for others. I thought I had to plan for the whole week, but often I didn’t know what the whole week looked like so I felt like I was “failing” at meal prepping. Eventually, I realized that I could cater the convenience to fit my own needs. I made it simpler for myself: having all the fresh ingredients chopped up and sealed in airtight containers to keep fresh and make cooking easier for me. I found a way to alter something that worked for some people, to work specifically for me.
While these are just two, albeit long-drawn-out examples, the point I’m trying to make here is: you have to alter things to make your life convenient. Some days that’s buying a coffee on your way to work, some days it’s spending a little extra time in the kitchen because you know you have a long week ahead, and some days it’s not going too hard on a night out because you know you have a stockpile of tasks waiting at your desk the next morning.
At the end of the day, it’s all about balance. Finding things that work for you is the only way that you’re going to live a happy life. It doesn’t make sense to be scrambling each day to complete your never-ending to-do list. All it will do is make you feel bad that you still didn’t complete it and overworked because you’re exhausted from all the time you put in, only to still not be done. Instead, making that list reasonable makes more sense, not only for your own well-being, but it also assures all the tasks will be done and given their due diligence. So work smart, and play smart. There’s no right way or only way to do things, it’s what works for you, and as Mr. Khalifa puts it, “the quicker you here, the faster you go”— or something like that.