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.