Balancing work and school is a lot harder than I thought it would be. Not that the content is challenging, it’s just the fact that I am constantly on the run between travel, work office hours, class, and homework. I think my biggest advantage right now is being young and single. Although working full-time, attending class part-time, and keeping an active, healthy lifestyle for me and my dog doesn’t mean I have all the time in the world I actually have a lot more time than those who are doing everything I’m doing but are also full-time parents. I have mad respect and admiration for those who balance all three (like my Mom did) because figuring out how to balance what’s on my plate is already stressful enough without having to add another element to the mix.
While I know getting back into the groove of school will be a period of adjustment, I’ve also realized that to stay sane I’m going to have to rigidly structure my schedule. I’m not horrible at sticking to a schedule when it comes to work, but when it comes to my personal life I really hate it. I have specific time slots now for when I do work, attend class, train for my 5k/10k, make a happy, healthy day for Miley, cook, run errands, study and do homework. And sometimes, it makes for a really long, exhausting day. My schedule is literally planned for three weeks in advance at any one time. It’s annoying but at least it brings some sanity to the whole fiasco.
When I’ve talked about this with others they always tell me to keep my priorities in check and that getting my Masters should be at the top of my list. While getting my Masters is very important to me, I happen to disagree with this statement that everything else comes after that. In fact, school is my last priority. For full-time parents, family is always at the top of the list. Miley is mine and I take my obligations to her as a dog owner seriously; I always have. I’m not willing to sacrifice her play time and in fact, I have compromised and take my homework with me to the dog park. It’s all about multi-tasking! My second priority will always be work. At the end of the day, I need to be able to pay my bills and support myself. I can’t let my performance at work decline because of school obligations. It wouldn’t be fair to the organization I work for and poor performance doesn’t bode well for keeping a job. My third priority will be school. School will always be there. If I need to take longer than two years to get through the program so I can adequately balance all of my obligations, then that’s what I need to do. Putting too much pressure on myself can be my demise. I’ve decided to keep my classes at two a semester and I know I can handle that – it’ll just take me a semester or two more to accomplish my end goal and that’s not the worst thing in the world.
The things helping me to blow off steam right now – well, exercise for sure. I’ve had an appetite for it actually and I’m going strong on my 5k/10k training program. Three more weeks and I will have finished a 5k run, then it’s on to the 10k. I’m also making sure to make time for friends and family. I’ll need those moments to just get away and get my mind off everything on my plate. I think the other thing helping me right now is the great support system I have between colleagues, family, friends, and classmates. I’m really lucky to have all of them rooting me on and willing to lend an ear when I just need to vent or freak out for a second. You guys rock if you didn’t already know it.