Protecting My Time: For School and From School

Friday, March 20, 2015

When I decided to go back to school a year and a half ago, I thought I was going to put my social life on hold for a few years. I travel about 50% of the time for work, so my weekday social life was already limited and I was sure school would consume the rest of my time. Much to my pleasant surprise, I was wrong. By protecting my time, I proved to myself that I really could get it all in without getting completely burnt out in the process. 

Although I definitely don’t have it all figured out, I have made some major improvements when it comes to committing time for school. I have always thought of myself as a great multitasker, but I have realized that trying to write a paper with my work email open, or trying to do homework while watching the game, is about as successful as trying to read a book while walking through the skyways over lunch. (Full disclosure: I don’t even work downtown but I have heard the horror stories and thought that metaphor would hit home for some of you.) What helped me the most was carving out time for school…and only school. I write it in my planner (yes, I’m probably the only person under 30 who still uses a planner) because that makes it a real commitment in my eyes. If you’re anything like me, going to a place outside of the office or the house is ideal. I found a “happy place” (I’m there right now!) where I can focus and be productive. I put away the cell phone, close out of my email and get to the grind. I am amazed by how efficient I can be when I am focused. I am also amazed by how inefficient I can be when I’m distracted! 

While making time for school is very important, I think making time for people and things other than school is even more important. I look at it this way: if I make sure I do the things I want and spend time with the people I love, I will have a better attitude about school and get more out of it. If I put school in the way of these things, I will start to resent it and my passions and relationships will suffer. It doesn’t sound like there is any upside to the latter so I make sure to carve out time from school in the exact same way I do for school. For me, not having that I should be studying thought hanging over my head has really allowed me to maintain one of the most balanced lifestyles I’ve ever had. And this is by far the busiest my life has ever been! As I mentioned before, I don’t have all the answers, but protecting my time has worked well for me and hopefully it will work well for you too.