Time is limited
Between university, extracurriculars, exercise, talking to people, budgeting, and my hobbies, my time has never been so valuable; being an international student is similar to being an astronaut missioning Mars. To explain, just imagine if the European Space Agency (ESA) sent an astronaut to an another planet. To have the astronaut travel and live so far away, it would cost to ESA a huge amount of money. The astronaut would not have it easy either, he would follow a very important mission and he would face an adverse climate which he would have to adapt to.
ESA being my family, my mission being building a career and the adverse climate being Dutch weather. I could be described as an astronaut that is living on some other planet – along with some good-looking extraterrestrials.
Under these circumstances I am compelled to spend my time wisely, and over these months I have been striving to do so. Learning to say ‘no’ is probably one of the most beautiful skills I began practicing – seriously helpful. And knowing how to divide and prioritise activities is a skill I aim to master. But something that was key was what I learned about the notion that the happier you are, the more productive you become.
It is important for me to be able to do more with less time because of two reasons. First, I do not want to waste time that could go into my mission. And second, high productivity is the trait I most want to copy from the Dutch.
On average, the Dutch work 27 hours a week, holding one of the lowest rates in Europe. Basically they are machines that get everything done during the week. Bread-fueled machines.
Additionally, ‘being happy’ has been a resounding topic in the university, and I wanted to experiment with my own ways to maintain happiness.
What I did was to look at my habits critically, to see where I got my dopamine from. I realised I had spent an ugly amount of hours in instant-gratification traps. Facebook, Youtube, Netflix, you know the story. But it turns out there were far more traps than I could have imagined: building the perfect playlist, overplanning, texting constantly, worrying about other people, daydreaming, moralising, micromanaging things,and so on – Honestly, I find it incredible that the mind can find gratification in all sorts of tiny things. And most surprisingly, none of these things are necessary to survive but we do them anyway!
Long story short: I went minimalist for one month making sure to keep an eye out for as much dangerous habits as possible, and as result I was able to snap my mind out of horrible habits, even from those I did not know I had. Basically, I can now spent more time studying and less time watching funny dog videos on Youtube – which is somehow a plus?
Anyway, optimistically speaking I can already say that these results will have an impact in how I spend my days here in Nijmegen. And maybe as the productivity increases, stress levels lower, and goals become clearer, I will discover how all these people can be so productive eating mostly bread and cheese.