It may seem like a waste of time to blog about a game plan for using my time wisely, because it takes up some of that time. But, A: I’m voice transcribing this as I make coffee and on my 5-minute breaks; and B, writing is how I process things. So in the long run, I think it pays off. I blogged last night about my comprehensive master’s exam I asked to do early, but then when it arrived I spiraled into panic mode (disclaimer: panic mode for me is just basically regular mode, with more coffee and blogging).
So, I have 3 weeks – 22 full days – to write 3 8-10 page papers, which each require extensive research. This is on top of my regular school work, which includes a couple of good-sized assignments during this time. But I have a plan!
• I’ve been going to the gym 3 days a week and doing exercises at home 2 days a week. I’ve got to temporarily cut that down, at least a little. I think the gym workout is more effective, so I’m going to eliminate the home workouts, and cut down to 2 days a week at the gym. That will give me about 3 hours a week total. I’m going to try to replace some of that missed exercise with walking around while I read my textbooks or watch school videos on my phone.
• I’m going to try not to let my diet suffer during this time. It takes quite a bit of prep to eat 9 servings of fruits and veggies a day. I may subsist on smoothies for a while, which isn’t ideal – because they can spike your blood sugar, and also I just don’t like them that much – but that may be what ends up happening.
• I have been trying to work ahead a little bit, so that by the time I leave for Kenya I wouldn’t have to do any schoolwork those 2 1/2 weeks. I’ve been a little bit stressed over that, because my courses are not laid out ahead of time as much this semester as they usually are. But now that concern can’t be anything I even think about. I cannot attempt to work ahead at all during these 3 weeks. After March 7, there will still be a few weeks to try to get ahead before Kenya. And one of those weeks is Spring Break, so I won’t be accumulating new school work that week. So for now, I’m taking that concern off the table. The bare minimum is what I will put into my regular school work; the majority of my focus will be on this exam.
• Sara and I have been FaceTiming daily Bible readings, and sometimes there’s 30 minutes to an hour of conversation before we get around to reading. I considered cutting out that whole thing, but I don’t want to sacrifice my spiritual habits. But I am gonna have to make a strict “readings only” policy for 3 weeks.
• Fridays and Saturdays: these are my secret weapons, since I don’t work most Fridays and I’m not out of town any of the next 3 Saturdays. However, I am working this Friday for a couple of hours, my aunt and cousin are coming to visit this Saturday, and the music day fundraiser I’m organizing is the next Saturday. But most of the work for that is done, and I know my family will understand if I have a textbook glued to me during the majority of our visit. And I still have 2 Fridays and a Saturday marked off during this time where I can focus on school all day.
• Work – I was considering asking my boss if I could train the new girl a couple of hours a week outside of my regular clients. I am no longer planning to ask that. I also have a big reauthorization report and a monthly report due at the beginning of next month. There may be no way around doing the re-auth, which will take 3-4 hours, during this time period. But I plan to see if I can do it 5 days later than usual. It shouldn’t be any problem to move the regular monthly report back a little.
• Miscellaneous – I have dinner plans Thursday, an oil change, a school interview I have to figure out, picking up Martha and Margaret at the airport Saturday (they’re in Hawaii), and all those little things that come up unexpectedly. There’s no use panicking over life happening, because it always does. It’s better than the alternative.
• Reinforcement – A person can’t work nonstop. They end up crashing and getting less work done then if they had kept a moderate schedule to begin with. So I’m determined to build in lots of short movement breaks, some drinking coffee on the deck while I watch videos or something, and even an occasional 20 minute break to watch Netflix. Grad school is part of life; but grad school isn’t life. And my philosophy is that if one has to suffer, it should be grad school. So far, this mentality keeps me working really efficiently, so that I can still do the things I want, and neither has had to suffer. Hopefully the rest of the semester will continue that way.
So that’s the plan. Besides that, it’s just going to be about staying on task and not letting a 5-minute break accidentally become a 30-minute break. I need to work on one of these assignments each week. I plan to try to get all my schoolwork for each week done on Monday and Tuesday at the latest, then spend Wednesday and Thursday researching, and Friday through Sunday writing. If I can do this schedule this week too, even though I have a late start, that will give me an extra Monday and Tuesday at the end of this 3 weeks to finish up any loose ties.
I feel slightly less panicky about this than I did last night. The plan for the next 4 hours before work is to finish an assignment I couldn’t do last week because I didn’t have the textbook I needed (it was a reading error; not a forgetfulness error), and then to get as much done of this week’s work as possible. I did not sleep well, but I’m up and the coffee has been flowing for a couple of hours. I’m feeling cautiously optimistic!