Now that the fall semester is fully underway, my work days are longer than they were in summer. For the first time since I completed all my courses I am finding myself doing work at home in the evenings. Last night it was about an hour and a half of going through my email putting my student’s presentations all in one file to get ready for class today. So far I am really enjoying all aspects of teaching so I don’t really mind doing some of my duties at home in the evenings but the change in my routine is still something I am adjusting too.
One of the most challenging things anyone with a packed schedule faces is trying to figure out what is the top priority activity and to actually build in time to achieve that goal. But what happens if you have multiple goals? Right now teaching and doing research are supposed to occupy equal amounts of time in a given week per the breakdown of my duties but some weeks it certainly does not feel equal.
Besides professional goals, you may have more personal individual goals that you’re working to achieve it. I know when I was training for the 5K earlier in the summer I was really intent on doing a least three training sessions a week so that I wouldn’t completely embarrass myself come race time. That was my goal at the time. Right now one of my goals is to write at least three blog posts a week and even though I have been consistently achieving my goal every week, some weeks it can definitely be harder to get into the mindset for writing.
One trick that I have been using to help me as my many responsibilities at work and at home constantly overlap is to make a conscious decision to embrace the entire week instead of focusing on any 24-hour window. Thursdays are my heavy teaching days which while rewarding is also physically wearing to be standing for close to four hours in a row. I’m not going to have a lot of gas in the tank at the end of the day for more creative pursuits so I have to be satisfied with using Thursday evenings to relax and unwind.
By being more open and flexible and looking at my to do’s as things that can be done over the course of the week I am freed from a lot of the stress that comes from going to bed at night with unfinished tasks in the back of my mind. I am also embracing a much more ‘finished is better than perfect’ attitude when it comes to chores and all of those little things that need to get done at home and work.
Establishing a new routine is not always the easiest thing. I have learned, sometimes the hard way, that flexibility is really the key to successfully running my professional and personal life along with an extra dose of kindness when I fail to meet my self-imposed deadlines.