Updated Day in the Life: 2018

I have no shame when it comes to my fascination with peoples day in the life posts. I love them. I love biographies and I love schedules, so it kind of makes perfect sense.

When I did one of these in January, I actually learned a lot about my life. It seems a little soon to be doing another one, but a whole heck of a lot has changed since that last post and I think I need to do it for me, more than for you (though I do hope you find it interesting). My class was actually cancelled this passed Monday so I was able to actually devote some time to this little blog. It felt nice to put this down on paper.

Here’s a peek at a usual Monday. I may also do a Tuesday and a weekend day, just for my own sake, if you’re interested.


5:15am – The alarm goes off & I roll out of bed. D gets up at 5:15 now and is not quiet at all.

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He gets himself ready and I take a laundry basket I’d sorted and filled the night before downstairs to the washer. I pull out D’s protein shake; unload and reload the dishwasher and then make my lunch.

5:40am – D says goodbye & I keep cleaning.

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I pour myself a glass of ice water and a protein shake and head downstairs to switch the laundry. When I come back up, I set a timer for an hour, empty (and reload) the dishwasher and wipe up the kitchen counters. I also defrost any meat I might need for a crock pot meal.

By 6:05am – Yoga

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This is, by far, the greatest part of waking up early. I do 30 minutes of yoga almost every single morning. In the past, I was trying to do it when I came home from work, but I would end up feeling like something else was more pressing, or thinking that yoga was something I “had” to do, rather than wanted to do. At that time in the morning, I’m too tired to know the difference, so I just get it done.

6:40am – Shower

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True story: I’ve started brushing my teeth in the shower and I don’t even care if people think that’s weird. I don’t actually have buckets of time in the morning even though it seems like I should because I jam so many things into. So, I start brushing my teeth while I get my hair wet, wash my hair with my toothbrush still in my mouth, and then finish brushing while I rinse my hair. It sounds ridiculous. Whatever. It’s working.

6:55am – Get dressed.

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Similar Dress

Usually, I pick out my clothes in my head while I’m in the shower. If I’m really on top of my game, I’ll pick out my clothes the night before or if I’m feeling like a total over achiever, I’ll pick out a weeks worth on Sunday (the weather lately has been way too unpredictable for that though). So, I get dressed and make the bed while I’m in the bedroom. Then, I give myself until 7:10 to get dinner going in the crock pot.

7:10am – Hair and make up

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I don’t know why I set an alarm on my FitBit for 7:10, but I did. I use it as the signal to go brush my hair and put some make up on. It’s working, so I don’t totally question it. I try to keep my make up simple – mascara, blush, a little eye shadow – and lately I’ve just been brushing my hair and then going. Once the snow comes, I’ll go back to blow drying / curling it, but for now, I’m giving my hair a break.

7:20am – Finish dinner / Start breakfast and lunch

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I know – confusing, right? Whatever I stopped doing at 7:10 to do my make up, I finish up, and then I pull together both breakfast and lunch.
I start drinking that protein shake usually just before I start yoga and I finish it on my way to work, so that drink plus a bunch of fruit is usually my breakfast. Lunch is typically vegetables and some cheese. Then, I also pack some crunchy things for snacks – popcorn and rice cakes. I also usually have a banana and something + hummus because I have class at night.

7:30am – head to work!

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I have about a 30 minute drive to work and my boss is really flexible about when we arrive. I try to be as close to on time as possible, but realistically, I have to drive through corn fields and if I get stuck behind a piece of farm equipment going 25 mph in a 55 mph… well, it is what it is. *shrug*
I have a little walk in from the parking lot and I try to use the time to text my best friend. My schedule is really jam-packed right now, so I don’t get to see her a ton and I miss her a lot, all the time. This helps a little and I hope it helps her know that I haven’t forgotten about her; I’m just slammed.

8am-ish – arrive at work

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I’ve started making my morning about something other than checking emails. I used to come in and be bogged down with emails for the first three hours of the day. Instead, I go through and clear out any spam emails, color code what’s in there (this takes about 5 minutes), respond to anything immediate (i.e. from the Director or my boss) and then start in a project.

10:00am – break time.

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I go outside for my break and text my bestie back. I like to physically leave the building because it helps me clear my mind (and get some steps in). I usually call my mom and ask about her day and what’s she’s planning to do. It’s nice to have a structured, quick check-in with her and my dad, so that I’m always in the loop.

10:15am – back to those emails

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I spend a pretty good chunk of the day in emails. There’s nothing fun or exciting about this.

12pm-ish – Lunch break!

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I don’t really eat lunch on my lunch break. On Mondays, I usually do work on the blog; Tuesdays and Thursdays I do homework; and Wednesdays and Fridays I do work on the book I’m ghostwriting. If it’s sunny, I sit outside. If not, there’s a great room in the building I work in that’s full of windows and I like to be there.

1pm – Meeting with my boss

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This is my actual boss

Every other Monday I meet with my boss. If you’re able to have a regularly scheduled meeting with them just to talk, I highly recommend it. We go over the projects I’m working on, how things are going in the office, with school and in my life. It helps me to stay grounded. I usually write myself notes throughout the two weeks and then use those to guide me through our conversation so that I don’t forget anything.

2:30pm– back to work again!

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I work on a team with two other people, not including my supervisor. We tend to collaborate for a little while, divvy up the work, then come back together later. We work in a cool space that was built with our process in mind. So, we collaborate for a little while, then jump into what needs to be done.
This is also when I usually eat my lunch.

3:30pm – break time!

I walk around the building and make a call to the doctors office about an upcoming appointment. The building is big, but only takes 3-5 minutes to get around. I walk around it 3 times, then head back in.

3:45pm – cleaning up.

There’s about an hour and 15 minutes left of the day. I use the time to comb back through emails and attend to anything I might have missed. I finish up whatever I can on what I was working on. Then, I make a list of what needs to get done tomorrow, followed by what it would be nice to have done by tomorrow. That way, when I leave, I can really, truly leave because the tasks are somewhere other than just my brain.

5:00pm – closing time

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I shut everything down and walk across the sidewalk to the building where my class is. There’s an hour before it starts, but there’s a semester-long project for this class, so my group meets every Monday from 5pm – 6pm. The two women I’m working with are awesome! They’re so funny and smart and dedicated to what we’re doing. I’m really fortunate to be part of a group like this; it makes the work so simple.

6:00pm – class time!

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The classroom buildings are all full of leaves this time of year

Our desks are arranged in a semi-circle, because the professor prefers we’re in discussion with each other. This week, we’re talking about Social Identity Development. I love listening to peoples stories of their backgrounds and what resonated with them about the theories.

7:15pm – break!

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He’s been helping me study lately

Because the class goes until 9pm, the professor gives us a break in the middle to use the restroom, get food, whatever. I call D. It’s the first time since he left this morning that I get to talk to him. I only have 10 minutes so I quickly ask about how work was, and what he did after work. He asks me the same. I tell him not to wait up for me.

7:25pm – group activity!

This professor really values collaboration, so in addition to our semester-long group project, we also break into groups (different than our semester-group) to talk through different theories. Each group is usually assigned one theory that we read about and has to give an overview to the rest of the class. It helps us get to know each other and puts the theories into accessible language, which is super helpful!

9:00pm – Time to head home!

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It’s a short walk to my car, and then a 20-25 minute drive home (since there’s no traffic). I usually text D and let him know I’m on my way since most of my drive is through the country with no street lights. The deal is: if I’m not home by 9:45, he comes to find me.

9:30pm – HOME

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Finally! I hug the cat and sneak into the bedroom to give D (who’s already asleep) a kiss. He’s turned off the crock pot so it can cool, and left me a plate of food in the microwave. He also cleaned the family room and tidied up the kitchen table and bedroom. I sit down on the couch and eat real quick while I look at social media.

10:20pm – Bedtime

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After I take care of the dinner dishes, etc., I change into jammies and get into bed. D has been asleep so I change the TV from his show to mine (which right now is Pretty Little Liars, for the 10 millionth time). I usually make it about 30 minutes into an episode before I notice my eyes drooping. I put on the sleep timer and my eye mask and knock out, ready to do it all again tomorrow!

 

 

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One Month | One Year

It’s been over a month since I’ve posted anything here. I feel like the month of October didn’t slip away from me – it ran at full force.

So, a quick recap?

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The leaves started to change colors here around the start of the month. I can’t believe that I forgot the vibrancy of autumn. I know that I’m in a new place, but you think I would remember, wouldn’t you?

There’s something exciting about the idea that the world is about to close up and be blanketed in perfect sheets of white snow. There’s also something horrible about the idea that I’m now driving to work in the dark and soon will be driving home in the dark too. #notinlove

I’ve been using this calendar to meal plan and it’s freaking saving my life (this is also the calendar that I use for my general monthly calendar). I’ve never meal planned a whole month at a time before and I am totally in love. It’s legit the greatest. I promise there’s a post coming about how and why I meal plan my month like that.

I also made this cute, inexpensive jewelry/hat/coat hanger for my favorite 9 year old’s birthday. I had some scrap wood that I painted pink with craft paint, drilled 10 holes in it, bought these drawer pulls and painted her name on it! I believe I took enough pictures to do a step-by-steps if folks are interested.

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I also made myself this little printable and have been using it to clear out my brain and keep track of my life. It’s helping a ton. I was thinking that I would share a blank version of it, but I’m not sure the best way to go about that? Any tips?

I had my three favorite kiddos over for a shrinky dink party the other day and that was basically the greatest thing ever. I’d never done them before and seriously – I had as much fun as they did!

It was the first time I had seen them in a long time. I’ve been buried in work, other work and school. It felt so good to turn my brain off for the night and just be present with them. Grad School Pro Tip: schedule time doing simple things with people who make you feel good. Seriously. Schedule it. Schedule it and don’t let things get in the way of the plan. You need that shit.

I’ve made some exciting changes in my house recently, but the most exciting (to me) is this amazing pantry change. It’s going to be a process to get it together, I would imagine. So, keep your eyes peeled for something soon!

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My rockstar mom took me to the ER at 4am

And, truthfully, a good portion of my life has been going towards health – maintaining balance and changing things that hurt. It’s been a year, today, since I had my gallbladder out. Much of my desire to keep this little blog going has had to do with trying to make sense of my life now that I’m down an organ.

It’s been a weird and complicated year. I’m grateful to be able to say that I understand my body differently than I ever have before. And I’m grateful to share that things are getting easier – I have a much better sense of what hurts and what doesn’t, and what’s going to be painful in the long-run.

I’ve decided I’d like to keep as many organs as possible, so I’m hoping to be able to talk through what that means for my life right now soon.

All things in due time, folks. I’ll be back to posting more regularly soon.

A. Rose (1)

Grad School Real Talk

A few weeks ago I wrote this beautiful post about scheduling out all your school work and making this beautiful plan for the semester and being the worlds most organized person ever. It was a callback to a post I wrote last year about the same idea.

Scheduled Truth

I laid out this beautiful plan in my blogging calendar and on Monday I was going to talk about what kinds of things I plan and what the actual result is. A week and a half later, I was going to talk about how my school schedule was working out.

The truth is: the school work is getting done. I’m glad I put the effort in at the start of the semester because I’m definitely way more ahead of schedule than I normally would be by now. And I’ve come up with a weekend system that looks something like this:

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I can make this printable available if folks would be interested? Let me know.

But shit happens.

On Saturday, there was a standoff in my neighborhood. No homework was getting done that night.

In part because it was loud with the cops on a megaphone all night, and in part because on Sunday, I just needed to be with my family & D. So, I thought it would be much more appropriate to use the time I allotted to talk about schedules to tell you all, whether your in school or not, that it’s okay.

It’s good and important to plan. At least, I’m not going to stop doing it anytime soon! But let life happen to you. If something happens on Saturday that has you shook, but your assignment is due Monday, still give yourself some space on Sunday. You will be better able to do your work if you have rested.

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We have this idea that being overwhelmed with work and looking busy is a requirement of life, or graduate school, or the mid-20’s. But for real, it doesn’t have to be.

Do the things you love – I hope that if you’re here, you’re here because school is one of the things you l.o.v.e. But take the time to sit back and remember why you love it. Make a list and post it somewhere if you need to. Tell me! I want to hear it! And above all else, remember:

Action without reflection leads to burnout.
Reflection without action leads to cynicism.

Albert Einstein

You’ve got this. You’re going to be just fine.

Breathe. Relax. Hug someone you love. Then go do your homework.

& Cookies

I’ve been an avid blog reader for the last six years and my favorite posts are always the personal, here’s-my-life-in-the-last-month-rounded-up kinds of things. I was thinking about this, and about my cousins son whose favorite time of the day is Cookie Time, where he, his mom and his grandma have milk and cookies. So I was thinking about the idea of having milk and cookies with people I like, but I stopped being able to drink milk around age 25, so here we are: & cookies.

You can read the rest of the series here, here, here and here


The past two weeks have been hectic, to say the least! With school starting the last week of August, everything in my life shifted a little bit to accommodate for what was new.

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I try to always get myself something at the start of the school year, almost like a pre-reward. It’s silly to do maybe, but I try to remember that, at this stage in life, even just registering for classes is a choice that isn’t always easy to make. I’ve wanted a pair of these earrings for a while, and when Natalie posted a coupon code, it seemed like a good time to jump on it.

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With school back in session, my commute has gotten about 15 minutes longer, each way. I drive through beautiful farm country, but sometimes find myself behind strange objects. I try to remember that I take this route for the experience – I’m used to palm trees and strip malls – and find it humorous. But my music has been getting a little stale lately. Any suggestions for great driving songs?

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I’ve given up on wearing dressy shoes to work. These sandals are so amazing that I cannot stop with them. You may have seen my Instagram post about them. I’ve been trying to post things to Instagram. To be completely transparent: I’m not great at it. I’m open to any advice folks have. I keep trying to remember that it’s a great way to keep in touch with folks and, really, it’s a lot easier to use than Facebook.

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Look at this perfect photo of my adorable dad and his dog, Maggie. I’ve been working on that TV stand that I talked about a while ago (I promise a great reveal post is coming soon!) and my parents hung out a bunch. That blue swing was my great-grandmas! My uncle recently had it repainted and surprised my mom with it! How freaking cute?

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I recently posted about getting my brain organized for school. I am juggling a lot of different things lately and trying to stay grounded while I do it. I think some of my struggle has to do with not having a planner that works 100% the way I need it to. So, I’m back to thinking about making my own.

I hope you all have been well. I’d love to hear what back-to-school time has been like for you!

A. Rose (1)

Class Schedule Management

It’s that wonderful time of year again, when the weather starts to turn and every now and then you see a leaf that’s a vibrant orange or red. I love the beginnings of fall. My absolute favorite part? Back to school!

I’m not even being sarcastic – I really love everything about school and learning and school supplies and assignments and readings. #hardcorenerd #lifelonglearner

The toughest part of school, to me, is managing the schedule alongside a full-time job and a new part-time job. I shared a little while ago about how I figure it all out, through a process I’ve been using since I started undergrad (12 years ago!) but I wanted to show you all some extra steps I learned over the Spring/Winter Semester!

 

I’m trying to stop using so much paper. I will probably always be a paper planner person, but I thought I’d try my hand at doing this in Excel. I pulled up both syllabi and reviewed them, looking for common themes. I realized there were four categories the work could be split into:

  1. Readings
  2. Major Assignments
  3. Minor Assignments
  4. Discussion Boards

So I made a spreadsheet and key that looks like this:

Step 1 of Organizing School

I have a hard time keeping the “EDH” and “EDF”‘s separate, so I gave myself a little reminder of what each class was. Then, I started plugging things in, based on the syllabus. But, I did it one week ahead of what the syllabus said. So if something is listed there for the week of October 14, I listed it under the week of October 7, because that’s the week I’ll actually be doing that work in. Does that make sense?

It looked something like this:

Step 2 of Organizing School

You can see how the color coding on the side went. I also made one class blue and the other purple. Last year, I did everything in the same color and wrote the name of the class next to the assignment. I much prefer this way in Excel. Here’s what it started to look like towards the time I was done:

Step 3 of Organizing School

So then, I created a new category called “Working Ahead.” For the items in yellow, I looked at them and what the syllabus says is involved and assumed what that means I’ll need to do. So for example, the week of September 2, we’re picking an issue we care about and we’ll be part of a group that writes and presents on that topic. So, that means, the week of August 26, I had to review the Topics:

Step 4 of Organizing School

I continued that process until the end of the semester for both classes, then I printed it out. I only printed it because I knew I had some times the day I made this when I could put some of these into my planner, otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have.

I put the items for each week on long Post Its just like I did last time:

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BUT, I looked at my calendar as I did this: when are Birthdays? other work stuff? evening events? For those weeks, I printed out some of these great sheets (link is at the bottom of the post; I just wanted to be sure to give you the chance to read her whole post) made by Megan at Honey We’re Home (who, btw, is amazing, y’all). For my really crazy weeks, I just went ahead and filled these out and stuck them in my planner for that week, so I don’t have to use my mental energy to figure it out at that point! #BAM

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And, for two weeks a head of time, rather than working off a sticky note, I just went ahead and broke the assignments up in to how much I thought I could get done on each day:

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My hope is that this pre-planning keeps me from feeling the crushing weight of all the things I’m juggling. I keep trying to remind myself that this is a choice I’ve made; these are all things that make me happy, and that it’s okay if I can’t always manage it all.

What kinds of things help you survive hectic times? What do you think is the most useful piece of going to (any level of) school that you carry with you now?

A. Rose (1)

How to Organize Your College to-do List

I talked a little bit in this post about the things that are keeping me sane while working full time and going to grad school.

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This guy is definitely high on the list

I made reference to the moderately flexible schedule that I’ve come up with for my classes, given what a usual day look likes.

For some context: I work full time at the university that I attend, which is a 30 – 90 minute drive from home, depending on the weather. I am a part-time graduate student, studying Adult and Higher Education, taking two classes on campus, which is a 20 – 60 minute drive from work.

The time piece is relevant here, I think. When you consider that I usually get home around 5:40pm and try to be in bed by 10pm, I really have four hours to, not only do homework, but also have my life during the week.

Start with the Syllabi

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Duh, right? It’s the plural that’s important. I learned this in undergrad when I took six classes a semester while working close to full-time. I grab up all my syllabi and start to write out due dates, in order. There’s a lot of flipping back and forth between them, so it’s helpful to have a large area to do this.

I only write down my major projects/papers/assignments. It will keep this part a lot cleaner.

Make Notes as You Go

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As I write out the assignments, I think about the timeline. For example, I have an Adult Learner Interview part-way into the semester, so I need to conduct the interview with enough time to actually write the paper.

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I keep doing this, and try to figure out if there’s more than one step involved. For example, on March 26, I have to write a Summary of an Adult Learning Site. So I need to visit the site at least two weeks in advance, which means I need to contact sites before that to ensure I can awkwardly sit in the corner while adults learn and I take notes on how they learn. #thisisgradschool #iloveit

In retrospect, it might have been a good idea to color code assignments or classes. I may try that next semester.

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At the end, it looks something like this (aka organized chaos). Then, I take a look at the syllabi again and start to think about my life. If I have class Monday and Wednesday night, I actually need to be done with my readings by Saturday, if I want to have an actual day off.

So I write it all together, with due dates on the side, categorized by week:

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I just keep going until I’ve written out each week of the semester. I end up with something like this, except longer:

Then, I do a quick double check and slowly enter all of it into my planner, on a large sticky note:

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The left side is school stuff and the right side is home stuff.

If you read my post about a day in my life, you know that currently D and I are trying to figure out how to best shorten the list on the right side. There’s just certain things that aren’t his to take on, or don’t feel right for him to take on given where we’re at in our relationship, and we want to be careful about doing things for each other that aren’t in line with where we are.

That’s it though. Rather than assigning days, I just try to get as much done as I can Monday – Thursday so that I can have a simple weekend. I’ve found that dedicating Tuesday and the Wednesdays that I don’t physically have to go to class to doing homework means that if I get a surprise visitor or just don’t feel like doing homework during the week I’m not dead on Sunday from the amount I have to do.

Total time to complete: about an hour and a half.

A Weekday in the Life

It makes me feel like a total creeper that I love to read Day in the Life posts from bloggers but I totally do. I did a half-hearted version when I talked about what my Saturday Morning looks like. But the other day, I read this one from one of my favorite bloggers and I thought about making one about the weekday, as a way to truly reflect on where my time goes. I thought it might help me. So, hold tight! Here we go!

Note: If it’s snowing or snowed the night before, all of the morning gets bumped up about 20 minutes, except the part where I get to work around 8am.

6:30am – “Wake up. For the love of all that is good, your day will be so much better if you wake up.”

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Alarm Clock

A few months ago, I realized how much I was on my phone, so I challenged myself to leave my phone in the kitchen when I went to bed. The first step to that was buying an alarm clock. I have yet to regret it.

6:32am – “Brushing your teeth will help you wake up. Seriously.”

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Similar Kettle / Travel Mug

I usually brush my teeth while I get a cup of tea started and take my make up out of the case. By the time I’m done brushing, the tea is usually ready. I pour the hot water in and sit down to do my make up.

6:37am – “I bet you can do your make up faster today than you did yesterday.”

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Dark Eye Shadow / Shadow Pallet / Light Eye Shadow / Brush was bought at Walgreens? like, a decade ago / Concealer / Mascara / Blush (similar) / Mirror (compact) was made by my oldest sister out of a Cover Girl powder that she hollowed out and put a Tori Amos quote on

I feel like that’s not the “normal” feeling about make up. I’m pretty minimalist when it comes to my face. Eye shadow, mascara, blush, under eye concealer and done. I don’t know if this theory holds water or not, but my mother has gorgeous skin. She’s 60 and I’ve never seen her have a breakout, uneven tones or any kind of blemish. She also has never in her life worn a full face of make up. I don’t know if the two are connected, but I’m going to roll with it, because it justifies me not having to spend the time on it. The result is usually something still tired but a little perkier looking.

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6:47am 
– “Why is my hair like this?”

I have weird hair. It’s incredibly thick (like, if I put it in two braids, one of those two is the thickness of most peoples one braid if they were to braid all their hair one time… if that makes sense…) – even the strands are thick – and coarse. It naturally curls in every which way and usually heat causes it to straighten out unless I use a crap-ton of hairspray. If I wake up late, it goes in a ponytail and I just roll with it. But, I’ve been trying really hard lately to actually do it because I feel better when I do.

7:12am – “Thank goodness I picked out my clothes the night before. Sheesh.”

There’s no picture of this because it would just be a picture of my closet. I just group four or five outfits together and that’s my version of setting out my clothes for the week. #lowkey

I always forget that I’ve picked out my clothes the night before until the point of getting dressed. I don’t always do this, but I try to. Sometimes, when I’m really on top of my game, I’ll pick out five outfits on Sunday night!  That doesn’t happen often.

I own a very limited number of work clothes (about 7-9 outfits) which helps to keep things simple if I don’t pick things out the night before. Maybe I’ll write some more about how I got to a point of a limited number of outfits. Would that be something  you’d be interested in?

7:20am – “Wallet, keys, phone, planner, lunch. Wallet, keys, phone, planner, lunch.”

Planner / Cat Clutch (similar) / Cup / Food Storage Container / Work Tote

I pack my bag in the morning. Sometimes I do it at night, but it’s almost always first thing in the morning. Depending on the day, there’s a lot of different things I might take with me. I almost always take breakfast and lunch. If it’s winter, then non-snow shoes come with for me to change into at work. School stuff and snacks are a must. On Mondays and Wednesdays this semester, I leave my house at 7:30am and get home around 9:30pm, so I usually have a decent amount of food with me.

7:25am – “I shouldn’t wake him up. But I don’t want to not say ‘I love you’ and then drive through the ice.”

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D works four jobs with unpredictable schedules (ex. one of them is snow plowing, so sometimes he doesn’t have any hours of that for two weeks; sometimes he works 40 hours in a row without sleeping) and so I do my best to respect his sleep, and he does his best to respect mine. My most favorite and D’s least favorite part of the day is when I creep into the dark bedroom and say goodbye. He’s always warm and soft feeling and so I gently tell him that I love him and to have a good day. Often, I sit on the bed and put my socks and snow boots on while I talk to him. He hates that I wake him up as it’s happening. But every evening he says thank you to me for it.

7:30am – “I’m glad I have Spotify.”

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Seriously. This is not an ad. I just really feel that way. I drive anywhere between 30 – 90 minutes to work, one way. Having good music, where I don’t have to use my hand and skip the songs, is a must.

I also try to use this time to get ready for work. I don’t make a mental to-do list. I don’t get paid to think about work when I’m not there, so I don’t do it. Instead, I sort through conversations I had the night before; what kinds of things I need to do on my lunch break; and plan out my evening. Some days, a song comes on that gets me thinking about other things and I, instead, use the time to reflect on my relationships with friends and family. It helps. A lot.

8:00-ish am – “Tell the family you’re not dead. Don’t forget.”

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I’m really lucky to work in a place that’s flexible about what time you arrive when it’s snowing out. Most of the office lives 30 minutes away, with some as far as an hour and a half. So, when the snow comes, we all just adapt if someone’s not here. Before I get out of my car, I text my mom, dad and sister and let them know I got to work safely.

Note: I never did this before I lived here. My parents didn’t really care and my sister and I talk so much that she pretty much always knows where I am. But now that I drive on windy roads through fields with strong winds and big hills, my parents are always nervous, so I send the text. 

Slightly After 8:00 am – “Knock out what you can.”

I usually start my morning slowly. I drink my tea and check my emails and knock out as many little things as I can. This doesn’t always work as planned, but it’s what I try for.

Around 9:00am – “It would probably good to eat breakfast at home.”

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That’s what I tell myself every time I pull out a literal bowl of breakfast at work. I usually eat yogurt, fruit and granola. I keep the yogurt and the granola at work and just transport a mason jar of fruit back and forth.

Sometime between 11:00am and 2:00pm – “I should probably use my lunch break to eat.”

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I don’t though. I usually eat lunch around 2pm. Instead, I usually use my hour lunch break to take a walk and then do homework at my desk. I don’t really recommend this but I can’t figure out a better way to get through grad school.

My job is 50% database management, 50% putting out fires that are comprised of the very real emotions of young adults. Talking about a typical day is impossible because you never know who’s going to come in crying, who’s going to scream at you because they’re actually just scared, or if nothing at all is going to happen. I freaking love it.

5:00pm – “Maybe earlier than 5pm. Never later than 5pm though.”

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I leave work at 5:00pm. This time of year, the sun is starting to set. Depending on the weather and how much snow is on my car, I get home between 5:35pm and 6:15pm. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I drive directly downtown (about 45 minutes from the campus I work on) to the other campus to take classes until 9pm. But let’s pretend it’s a Tuesday, Thursday or Friday.

On my drive home, I usually call D to figure out what he’s doing, and spend the rest of the drive home thinking about the good pieces of the day.

5:45pm – “I know you were alone all day. I missed you so much.”

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I snuggle the cat when I get home and then I change my clothes. When I lived in Florida, I would take a shower after work. I usually didn’t wash my hair until before bed, but I had to do something to get the heat off me and it signaled that I was home. Now that it’s the opposite of 100 degrees here, I just change my clothes and put my slippers on, because slippers mean home to me.

6:00pm – “What should we make for dinner, kitten?”

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I’m pretty good about taking meat out the night before for dinner, but it doesn’t always happen. Around 6, I start figuring out dinner and set up at the dining room table to start my homework. If D is going to be there soon, I’ll start dinner (if it’s my turn) while I read. If he’s going to be working through the night, dinner is usually a grilled cheese or some applesauce. If he’s there, he usually watches TV with his headphones on while I do my homework and we eat separately. Twice a week, he does the cooking and while he cooks, I put my homework away so we can talk. Either way, whenever we’re both done, we do dishes together.

8:00pm – “If you don’t stop doing homework soon you’re going to be writing in martian.”

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I know two hours isn’t a lot of time, especially compared to what I did in undergrad, but after a full day of emotionally draining work, two hours of theory is a lot. So, instead of trying to push myself past my breaking point, I do two hours every day, except the weekends. On the weekends, I get the bulk of it done.

I clean up the kitchen table and usually one other cleaning thing – the bathroom, picking up clothes, sorting through something. I try to do one little area so that I don’t completely lose my weekend to cleaning.

8:30pm – “What about a shower? I should take a shower. I should always take a shower.”

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I freaking love showers. My sister calls the shower her “reflection chamber” and feel like that’s 100% accurate. Most of the time D and I take a shower together – sorry if that’s TMI, but it’s actually because we do some of our best talking when we’re trapped in the same tiny place together.

9:00pm – “Remember that time you wanted to start a blog?”

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Yep, that’s right. 9pm is prime blog-writing time. No. No, it’s really not. I usually sort through pictures, come up with ideas for posts, try to figure out how people actually get followers, wonder if I actually want followers, get distracted by Pinterest, plan out next weeks meals, realize I was thinking about blogging, start over again from the beginning.

9:45pm – “Remember that time you said you were going to relax more? Do that.”

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9:45 is usually when I crawl into bed, turn on Pretty Little Liars, and lie to myself about how I’m just going to finish the 20 minutes left on this episode.

11:00pm – “Honey, you said you were going to sleep at 9:30…”

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Every night, D reminds me of my constant mission to go to bed on time and how I’m not accomplishing it. Not in a mean way. He just points it out. I make an excuse. He suggests that I might be making an excuse. I huff about it. He lets it go. Then we hug and go to sleep.

I’m not a good sleeper. And as you can probably math from all of this, I usually get about five to six hours a night, which isn’t good for anyone in my life, least of all: me. I really am working on it. I got a Fitbit for Christmas and have set a reminder for 9:30 to start winding down so I can try to be in bed by 10am.

D and I have been talking a lot about what I could take off my plate and put on his to create more time in my day so I can sleep. The housework is the big conversation because right now it’s technically divided equally (in terms of a time/effort combo that we agreed on), but I’m still either not getting enough sleep or not getting enough relaxation. I’m open to suggestions! For real! I know I won’t last long at this pace!

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Thanks for sticking it out, if you made it through this whole thing. I actually didn’t know a day in my life would have this many details and it was really nice to reflect on it.

How to Survive Grad School (while working full time)

Truth? I don’t 100% have the answer for that. Classes started January 8. I’m taking two: one on Mondays and a hybrid one that meets six Wednesdays a semester. For context, I’m at work from 8am – 5pm and have anywhere from a 30-90 minute commute, depending on the weather. And usually on Saturday night I help D with work from 9pm – 4am.

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So, there’s not buckets of time, which I’m trying to figure out how to manage. So I thought I’d write down my top 5 things I’ve figured out so far, to help me remember.

1. Don’t be Hyper Organized

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I know that this seems counter-intuitive, but the thing is: life happens. And it happens. And it happens. I believe in being structured and having a schedule, but I include in my schedule the chance to miss a day of homework. I think it’ll help me out to actually write out how I came up with my current homework schedule, which is working really well.

2. Get Good at Saying No

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Yep. I know. Annoying. BUT, here’s the thing about saying “no” that took me a long time to figure out: you’re actually being kind to other people when you acknowledge your own limitsIf I tell you I can do something at a time when I’m overwhelmed, I will likely only give it a max of 80% of effort. How does that help you? Whether that’s a conversation or a pie, you aren’t helping by giving only a portion of your attention of something to someone else. So, get good at “no.”

I’m a big fan of “no, because, and.” “No, I can’t come over because I’ve only gotten 10 hours of sleep in the last three days and I want to be able to give you my full attention.” “No, I can’t take on an extra project because I have four going right now and I wouldn’t be able to give you my best work if I added another.” People almost always are like “Yeah! That’s totally fine!”

Note: use this with your boss sparingly.

3. Sleep is Your Friend

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My moms cat is hilarious

When I was 20, I could operate on 3 hours of sleep a night and still submit/create fabulous work. Now that I’m just a few months away from 30, getting around 6 a night is a serious struggle. I will adapt, but I also know that if I drop below 6, or don’t get more than that on the weekends, I’m going to turn into a zombie who can barely make sentences. I am willing to forego a lot to ensure that I’m getting enough sleep. It doesn’t do me any good to be half-asleep in class, and it’s risky to be half-asleep at work.

4. Meal Plan/Prep on the Weekends

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I cannot stress this enough. You can totally fly through life and never meal plan if you’re better at choosing healthy options than me. I just really like foods that don’t contribute to my overall health and what I’ve found is that when I don’t have something already with me, I’m not going to stop somewhere and get a salad – I’m going to stop somewhere and get a fried thing, or a carb-filled thing or a thing full of refined white sugar.

On the weekends, I fill up four mason jars with fruits (I keep yogurt and granola at work), make three or four salads, bag fruits and veggies for snacks and plan dinners. I look at my class schedule and my homework schedule and use that to determine how much of whatever it is I’m making. I take leftovers with me to class and on heavy homework days, I make sure to throw something in the crock pot the morning of. This is giving me good, natural energy and saving me a lot of money.

5. Post Why You’re Doing What You’re Doing

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In undergrad, I had to get homework done. I needed A’s and I needed to get through it to get a job. That was it. I learned a lot. I had a lot of fun. But it wasn’t in my soul the way this program is. On some level, I’m in grad school because I can’t move up and get a better job with more pay without it because the field I’m in. That’s never not going to be true. But what brought me here is the idea that I cannot stop caring about children and education and the things that influence both. I would stop being me if I stopped caring.

And so all over my desk at work and all over my house, are these reminders that the purpose of me going isn’t to get it over with: it’s to be fully inside of it and soak up every little detail as best I can. That’s what will make the difference in the end.