Getting Organised 2 – Planning for Balance

The summer holidays have given me a chance to get my life balance back, and I’m fearful that when I return to work on Thursday, I’ll lose it all again. I wrote about this last Saturday. To avoid losing the balance I’ve come up with a plan.

I figure its all about routine. I have one at work – my class timetable. Every minute of the school day for my class is organised to enable us to cover all facets of a crowded curriculum over a year. Its efficient, no time is wasted, and we achieve an awful lot each day.

When I timetable for my class the first thing I do  is write down all the content areas and types of activities that need to be covered in a week. Some have mandatory amounts of time attached to them, others are more flexible. I then work out the best way to fit them into the school day – a little like doing a jigsaw puzzle.

Since it works so well at school, I thought I’d try making a timetable for the rest of my life. Maybe this way, I’ll find time for some of the important things that I always neglect.

To start, I made a table with a column for each day of the week and a row for every half hour period in a 24 hour day. It might sound a little over the top, but this level of detail works for me.

Next I blocked in 8 hours of sleep per night. Unfortunately, I’m not one of those people who do well on less.

Folowing that, I blocked in my work hours from the time I arrive in the morning (around 7:30am) until the time I leave. I’ve been in the habit of leaving at 7:30pm, but this year I’m going to really try hard to leave at 5:30. 12 hour days are excessive – in fact, the 10 hour day I’m planning to work also seems excessive – so I figure, if I can’t get the work done in that time period it is just going to have to wait.

After blocking in work, I added the time I need to travel to and from work, and the time I need to get ready in the morning.

By this time, my week days were already really full, but there was more to add. Daily activities like reading mail, paying bills, cooking, eating and cleaning up after dinner all had to be included.  I also needed to include time for daily exercise and working on projects like this blog. Additionally I needed time down time – reading, watching tv… whatever helps me unwind. And then there were the various activities I pursue outside my home, like meeting my friends each Thursday for the pub quiz, or rehearsing with my band.

Weekends followed a similar process – I needed to include time for housework, grocery shopping, an additional 4 hours of school work.

After writing it all into  the timetable I’ve realised it won’t be possible to do everything I want to do in the time I have – unless I just don’t sleep, so I’ve had to make some cutbacks. I’ve had to budget my time.

I’m going to try cutting back on sleep – 7 hours instead of 8 hours. This will give me time to keep up yoga and morning walks. I really am not at my best on less than 8 hours sleep – but that said, I often spend half the night awake, tossing and turning. If I sleep well, then 7 hours might be enough.

I’m also going to cut back on tv – I can only really afford 1 hour a night. I don’t really care about that , as I barely watch it anyway, but my partner and I do sometimes like to watch multiple episodes of tv seasons on dvd after dinner.

Dinner is going to have to change too. I like to cook and will spend a long time in the kitchen. To get things done, I’m going to have to choose recipes that take no more than half an hour to prepare. I’ll need to leave the longer recipes for weekends. 

As for blogging – I’m limiting the time I spend on that as well.  As well as writing posts,  I’ll be using that time for reading other blogs, responding to comments, updating my photoblog etc. There’s a lot to keep up with – so you may not hear from me so often.

Speaking of which, I’ve just realised I’ve gone overtime on this post – by one whole minute!

I’m not sure how successful my timetable will be, but I do have a sense of control now. I’m not nearly as apprehensive about returning to work – I think if I stick to my plan, I’ll be able to maintain my balance.  In which case, all the early mornings and time restrictions I’m imposing on my self will be worth it.

I’ll let you know how it goes.


7 thoughts on “Getting Organised 2 – Planning for Balance

  1. Good luck with it! You are a busy bee 🙂 I’d be very wary of cutting down on sleep though, I’m another that needs my eight. Changes need to be sustainable, planning to sleep less is a recipe for running yourself into the ground. It sounds like you do need to cut back on the work though, that is a crazy lot of hours to be working! Is there any way to streamline what you need to do to make it more efficient and thus faster? Or maybe you just need to get tough and refuse to take on more than your share.

    • You’re right about the sleep issue – but for me, I think I’ll be fine on 7 hours, if I can actually sleep for that length of time. I tend to be a bit of an insomniac – last night I woke at 2:45am, and couldn’t get back to sleep. I wasn’t worrying about stuff – just thinking random thoughts all night. I tried meditation, breathing, listening to relaxation music, white noise… nothing worked. Finally I got up at 5:45, did some reading and Yoga – staying in bed longer wasn’t going to make a difference. 😦

      Itry to streamline my work to build efficiency, and I’m keeping a time sheet at the moment to work out exactly where all that time goes. The thing is, there are parts of my job I can plan for – and those run efficiently, but a large part of my job is responding to situations that you can’t possibly plan for – putting out fires as I call it.

      For example, once, when locking up the school at 5pm, intending to go home at a reasonable time, I spotted one of our students, all balled up in the playground. I went to see if he was okay and discovered he had run away from home. He didn’t know where to go, so he turned up at school.

      It took a couple of hours to sort him out and get him back with his family. You can’t plan those situations and you can’t turn your back on them. You also need to document them quite thoroughly and that can take ages.

      Kid’s don’t run away every day of course, but working in the community there is always something. We DO share the work around, but if the issues involve a staff member you supervise, or a student or family in the part of the school you are responsible for, you can’t palm it off on someone else as they won’t have the relationship with the people concerned or know the history.

      Anyway, as I said, I’m keeping a time sheet to work out exactly where the time goes – hopefully I can find some ways to streamline things to be more efficient, cut out the time wasters and identify some areas that other people could be doing.

      Knowledge is power, so figuring out what is taking all the time is the first step, I guess. 🙂

  2. I’m scared to do a timesheet! It would be too depressing. I have the opposite problem to you, more time than energy.

    Sympathy with the insomnia. My Mum had that and her doctor told her to just lie in bed resting and that was nearly as good as sleep. But if you’re actively worrying it might not be so restful I suppose.

    If I’m worrying, I try to make a positive plan, or at least consider the options and what could be the positive and negative outcomes of them all. Writing it down helps me, just in a file of thoughts on my laptop, like freewriting. It is a habit I got into for the thesis, but I find it helps with all sorts of problems. I also write about how I feel about the problem. Sometimes having it written down and stored calms my brain down a bit, as it doesn’t have to try and remember the worries and track all the solutions. It feels as if I’ve done something positive towards sorting the worry out and helps me relax a bit. Of course, some things can’t be sorted out and I just vacillate.

    For things which are out of my power to solve, I find prayer helps. Not so much without faith perhaps, but before I found my faith, I still actually found it helpful to pray. I suppose accepting that some things are not in my power to control, just how I react to them, helps in some way.

    It’s a vicious cycle though, as lack of sleep always makes worries ten times worse!

    I find the worst thing for stopping my sleep is if I have been thinking about writing, whether it’s thesis, fiction or even blog posts, just as I’m trying to get to sleep. It can make my brain get all excited and active and I have to sit up and write stuff down or I’ll end up with disturbed dreams.

    Have you tried reading something really boring? The sort of thing that makes you want to sleep whatever time you try to read it.

    Hmm, something tells me this reply to your long comment is going to also be rather long…

    • Fortunately I haven’t been lying awake being anxious, and I have no trouble getting to sleep. The problem is, if I wake up during the night my brain just switches on and goes into overdrive. I become really creative and start having all these great ideas which just keep on coming. In someways its a good thing – I often come up with a solution to something I might have been stewing on earlier. I might try what you do and get up and write it all down… only I’m scared that I’ll become even more overstimulated and never get back to sleep.

      At least on Thursday night, while I didn’t actually get back to sleep, I was still lying down and resting a lot. And the weird thing was, I didn’t feel half as tired as I thought I would during the day.

  3. Pingback: Maybe I’m not mad, after all | oneregard

  4. It can go either way, whether writing it down gets it out of your system or fires you up more, but I find I’m more likely to sleep well after writing it down, whichever way it goes. Otherwise I get anxious dreams where I’m trying to hang onto the idea and my dreams are strange enough without that!

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