Tips on time management to make the most of an overseas experience
"If you have taken a professional break to follow your partner abroad, the following are my tips on how to make the new situation successful.
Embrace the opporunity without any complexes, See it as a beautiful present and not a concession you are making for your partner. The move offers you the opportunity to think of yourself, to put yourself at the center of your life.
It gives you time, to think about memories you buried away over the years, as well as domestic constraints and everyday life…It offers you a break to take stock of what you like or what you would like to change.
Think about the time you have daily, Step out of the autopilot mode of workdays and retake control of the hours that go by. For me, this is about living life more slowly, listening to my needs and wishes… which does not mean becoming lazy or boring!
Take control of the mental load (the overlap of several activities which includes household activities, family responsibilities, planning…). An over load of several activities can have devastating effects on one’s state of tiredness and level of concentration. Once you are settled in to your new surroundings, it is an incredible luxury to finally say, that in a day we have time for all. Do one thing at a time…
Write a planning as it helps you to be disciplined. Write down your activities, even those at home. This will give you a better idea of the obligations and tasks that are waiting for you. This discipline will help you to manage your time and not to undertake several activities at the same time.
Listen to all types of Podcasts: language learning, fashion, psychology, general culture… Enroll in MOOCs.
While on expatriation, internet opens a whole new world of learning. It is like being back at school again; a super recipe for feeling young again!
Never do household tasks during the time you allocated for yourself in your planning. Household chores such as tidying are the responsibility of everyone in the home. Discuss with the family on how to delegate fairly these tasks!
Keep fit. If you have time in your planning, do sporting activities. You will physically and mentally feel so much better and you will also be an excellent example for the rest of the family.
Do crazy challenges or whatever takes your fancy (what you want to do, but before you never found the time or courage!) Life is too short to have regrets! Enroll in your first university degree; run a marathon; read the great literature classics (you will find that you will see them in a different perspective than when you were 15 years old) and/or watch a film during a weekday afternoon!
Remember that any change takes time. Learning to slow down can be destabilizing. For some it is a new way of living and a process to put in place… you must be patient. At the beginning, you may feel that you have accomplished little or nothing during the day. During expatriation, it takes about 6 months before you start to feel you rebuilt a normal life and way of functioning.
Explain to your partner and/or family that even though you are not going out to work each day, that this does not mean that you do not have daily activities and obligations! Explain to them that your days are also full of new discoveries, new people and that you are also tired at the end of the day… Your partner or family should not expect you to allocate 100% of your time to them.
However, as you have more time, they really appreciate that you are there to listen to them, to accompany and to help them (though do not cancel a sports workout to go and buy a pen eraser!). Also, if you are occupied and unless it is urgent, don’t hesitate in saying “please, I am busy, let’s talk about it in 15 minutes”.
With all that said, I find that my days are too short but this is not a problem, as tomorrow is a new day…."
Many thanks to this reader for their practical advice and contribution.If you have other contributions to add to the blog, I am very happy to hear from you and to share your advice with readers of the blog.
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