A new semester brings with it syllabus writing, course planning, lecture organization, departmental and committee meetings, and complete chaos. Within the last week, my schedule went from relatively manageable to filled-to-the-brim, forcing me to contemplate how in the world I’m going to “pencil in” my own research and writing. As the weeks and months tighten, I am keenly aware that my “free time” is dwindling at an alarming rate and that my routine isn’t going to cut it this year. Somehow, somewhere, I need to find more time. Do I take Sundays to work? Do I wake up at 6:00 or gasp 5:00? Do I finally accept the fact that I need to schedule my work, research, and free time so that my life is more manageable? Why am I so resistant to making appointments to do my work and then sticking to those appointments? Why am I resistant to parsing out my work into manageable chunks that can easily be accomplished in a hour or two?
I keep three calendars — two desk and one planner, a kanban board, and a master to-do list that never seems to shrink because I keep adding tasks to it. I have an “everything notebook” where I write tasks, notes from meetings, thoughts, and other “important” information. I have a “writing notebook” where I jot down research related thoughts and ideas and other “important” information. I have post-it notes everywhere. And now I have a kanban board that I’ve been working through.
And yet, I feel like Sisyphus as I roll my boulder up the hill only to be smashed by it on the way down. Oh believe me, I make plans with good intentions. I write it down … I move it across the kanban … I start the task with vim and vigor, only to let my efforts fizzle in an inglorious sputter. What in the world is wrong with me? I once thought it was my lack of planning, or that I procrastinate, or that I am “out of practice,” or that I have a hard time structuring my work without an imposed deadline associated with school or a 9-5 job. I read senior academic’s blogs and helpful hints on Twitter and I’ve tried to employ their methods. I’ll keep it going for a month or two, only to give up. What the hell is wrong with me? It seems like I’m rebelling against my current situation by wasting time on Facebook or Twitter, watching senseless TV at night, and “futzing” around the house or my office.
Is it mental? Emotional? Physical? Do I not like what I do anymore? Am I afraid of the all-consuming work? Or am I just tired and frustrated … do I need to step away from my plans and goals for a little while so that I can take a breath, enjoy teaching, and figure it all out? Is it that I’m overwhelmed and still reeling from everything that has happened in the last 4-6 years? Am I still exhausted from this move — a move that wasn’t easy — to a place that I’m finding difficult to acclimate to.
To make matters worse, as my planner gets more and more filled I have less and less time to dedicate to the things that will make my body strong and healthy, and that will make my heart and spirit soar. I’ve planned my weeks around grading, research, teaching, and meetings without considering when I’m going to work out, meal plans, or quiet moments with my knitting or other creative things. I don’t plan out time to blog, garden, cook and bake. I don’t do my nails anymore and I barely squeeze in time to dye my hair. Why don’t I take fashion photos anymore? I’m running out the door without setting aside time to document my outfits. Everything I love … everything that I’ve featured on my past blogs … has been pushed to the side as I try to survive in my current situation.
And I hate it.
I’m 238 pounds. I gained almost all of my weight back. My body is weak … I don’t exercise. I am back to eating large portions, snacking out of boredom or frustration, and drinking way too much alcohol. I hardly ever cook anymore and eating out has been our primary source of meals. When I lived in NYC I was constantly running from one train to another, climbing stairs, or walking blocks to get somewhere. I moved all the time. Here in Texas I need to make an effort to do anything! We drive everywhere AND it’s too damned hot to be outside for very long. We actually NEED to get a gym membership because the only way to get my exercise for the day is to get on a treadmill or ride a stationary bike.
Something needs to give … and in a big way. Can you really “find time” in a schedule that’s already busting at the seams? What now?