Back in Business

In theory, school started last Tuesday. I wasn’t even remotely ready to go back. Yes, I had an entire month off, but half of that was spent traveling and I flat out just didn’t get enough time at home to decompress after the craziness that was fall semester. I just needed a few more days to snuggle with the cats and enjoy being home before heading down to my apartment near school. Thanks to the weather, I got them.

This is what happened here last week: actual winter. We got some snow on Sunday, although it wasn’t enough to cause any real problems. More snow was forecasted for Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, so I headed back home after classes on Tuesday. I figured if the weather was bad enough that I wasn’t going to be able to get to school, we wouldn’t be having classes anyway.

I was right. We had snow days for the rest of the week. Well, technically we had class on Friday, but I wasn’t there. Mostly because my neighborhood streets still looked like this:

In case it’s not immediately obvious, that’s just enough of a hill to prevent my car from driving up it when its covered in snow like that. My car was actually parked at the bottom of this hill all week (as I couldn’t get up it when I got home Tuesday night), but there’s a matching one that needs to be traversed to get out of the neighborhood and to the cleared main roads. Even if I could have gotten my car out of its parking spot (which I couldn’t, since the snow around my car was higher than the bottom of the bumper), it never would have made it up the hill.

It was only a few extra days, but it was exactly what I needed. I snuggled down with the cats and relaxed like nobody’s business. Mostly because I was snowed in and couldn’t do much else. However, it did the trick and I came down to school this week ready to rock.

While my schedule this semester isn’t quite as rigorous as it was in the fall, I hear my workload is going to be heavier (especially since I’m now heading up the student neuro interest group and am one of the Vice President’s of the student PT association). That means that my goal for this semester is simple: Stress Reduction Through Time Management. I’ve set up a few simple rules for myself that I hope to be able to stick to.

  • Free time during the day is to be used for exercising, studying and school-related reading as much as possible. Errands are only to be run if they can’t be accomplished in the evening.
  • Exercise will be scheduled at a certain time. In my calendar. And I’ll keep to it like I keep my other appointments. Just because it’s an appointment with myself doesn’t make it any less important!
  • I have a bedtime this semester. At the same time every evening, I’ll put away the studying/homework, get ready for bed, and then, if I want to, I’ll do some non-required reading to wind down before going to sleep. I’ve even set an alarm for it on my phone so I don’t lose track of time and stay up too late!
  • I’ll read one journal or magazine a week. In the case of journals, I can read abstracts and only read the full article if it looks interesting. I have a huge backlog building up that I really want to get through. After that journal or magazine is done, I can read whatever I want before bed for the rest of the week.
  • I will get at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night.
  • I will give myself at least one day to sleep in (i.e., no alarm needs to be set) every week. (Typically over the weekend, but I don’t have class on Monday morning, so I can always sneak it in on Monday if needed.)
  • I will eat like a normal, healthy person. Not like a teenager. Or undergraduate. I’ve been living on snacks and junk food – ¬†especially at the end of last semester – and I need to cut back. Both so I fit back into my pre-surgery pants and because I know I’ll feel better and have more energy if I’m not constantly having a sugar or caffeine-induced crash.
  • I will allow myself to spend some time on the weekend crafting or doing some other “me time” activity, even if Irwin’s home and not busy. I have projects that I want to do, but if Irwin’s around I end up watching TV with him and it’s just not the same. I’ll definitely spend some time with him on the weekends, but I also get to spend some time doing my crafty things if I want. (He’s OK with this. I’m terrible about actually doing it.)

That’s my key to balance and sanity this semester: schedules and rules. So far, it’s working out pretty well. Knowing that I have a deadline at night really does motivate me to get things done during the day rather than putting them off, and I’m getting into bed (if not asleep) far, far earlier than I ever did in the fall.

How do you maintain balance (and sanity!) when things get crazy?


5 Responses to Back in Business

  1. Tracy says:

    This is so fascinating – I find that rules NEVER work for me. The minute I set them, my subconscious is like, “hahahaha, take that! we’ll not obey your silly rules!” and I stay up too late, eat bad food, etc.

    Also, re: errand running. I find one of the best parts of having a flexible schedule is being able to run errands during the day, when they are so much faster (no crowds). That said, one of the worst parts of having a flexible schedule is that it’s 9:20pm and I’m still at work :/
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    • Dawn says:

      This is why I have the alarms on my phone – to keep me to it. (At least the bedtime alarm, which is really the most important to me as I really require 8 hours of sleep to be functional.)

      The problem with my area is that at home it’s lots of stay at home mom’s and by school it’s lots of students, so I don’t get too much benefit from doing it in the middle of the day. My time really is better spent reading then, instead of in the evening when my focus just isn’t there.

  2. marie says:

    I have daily me time, 15 -30 min of spinning or knitting, really helps me to keep my balance. I don’t aim to finish anything, just do what I can in that little bit of time.

  3. Suzanne says:

    I don’t really know how I do it but I did better during college when I took 20 hours and had a million other things to juggle. Now I have days when I don’t have anything to do but yet I seem to get nothing accomplished. I am sure you will find a good balance!
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    • Dawn says:

      I think we all did. To some extent, I do better when I’m busier, because there’s no room to procrastinate. Things HAVE to get done, so I’m more efficient. However, I’m finding that as I get older, I also need a certain amount of downtime. I’m working on finding that balance between staying busy enough to keep me productive but still have that much needed mental rest at the end of the day.


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