As you might have guessed from previous posts, I am a poor, underemployed recent college grad. I intern part-time at my Alma Mater’s Study Abroad office, and I knit things to sell online to make a little money. This means that I have a lot of “free time” that I have to manage on my own. During my “free time,” when I’m not in the office, I find and apply for jobs, keep up with my blogging and continued learning projects (language study, html practice, reading articles on my chosen industry, etc.), and keep myself and my home in reasonable health and order.
Right after graduation, when I suddenly found myself with all this free time and no one to manage it for me, I went a little wild. I’ve had a strict class schedule defining the rhythm of my life since I can remember, and the sudden removal of that schedule was a jarring. I slept too much, I spent a lot of lost hours on the internet, and entire days would pass without doing anything “productive.” I would start my day with “I should apply for a job today,” and it wouldn’t get done. I would think “I should really work on my Japanese sometime so I don’t forget it all,” but sometime never came.
After a long time of this, I finally came to my senses and made a schedule for my “free” days. It varies by day (depending on what needs to get done that day), but the general outline is as follows:
- 8:00am – Wake up, eat breakfast, and read the blogs I follow
- 8:45am – get out of my pjs, make myself presentable, and make my bed.
- 9:00am – Write blogs
- 10:00am – Work on job stuff (researching, applying, following up), taking breaks to clean the house.
- 12:00 – Eat lunch and read (blogs, articles, books, whatever strikes my fancy)
- 1:00pm – Continued learning projects (Duolingo German study, Heissig Kanji learning, or html practice)
- 2:00pm – Go for a walk or run and shower.
- 3:00pm – Tea and knitting break!
- 4:00pm – More job stuff with cleaning breaks
- 5:30 – cook and eat dinner
- 6:30 – More job stuff with cleaning breaks
- 7:30 – Knitting, TV, audiobooks time!
- 9:45 – Get ready for bed
- 10:00 – Read
- 10:30 – Sleep!
Reasons why this schedule is awesome:
- I wake up at the same time every day, no matter if I’m going into the office or working at home. I have a sleep disorder, so getting lots of regular sleep is important to my ability to function.
- Putting on real clothes and making my bed sets a solid boundary between my sleeping/relaxing time and my working time, and makes it easier for me to focus.
- One hour every day to write blogs! I only create content during that hour (it’s easy to disappear down the rabbit hole of reading the endless excellent blogs out there), and if I have extra time left over I work on future posts.
- I have five hours every day slotted for job stuff. This is time for everything from browsing job posting sites and company HR pages for jobs, to editing my resume and writing cover letters, to having informational interviews with people in the field that I admire, to following up on conversations with people in my network (interviews, etc.). This is enough time that I get a lot done, but not so much that I’ll go crazy from working on it too much.
- The hardest part of my work day, working on job stuff, is scheduled in chunks no longer than 2 hours and later in the day for optimal focus and efficiency.
- The hard work is interspersed with breaks to clean. Every 20 or 30 minutes I get up and wash dishes, vacuum, or pick up stuff around the house for about 5 minutes. This is a physical break (gets me up and moving and my blood pumping) and a mental break (cleaning doesn’t require much focus) to keep me sharp while I’m working, but also makes sure that my house doesn’t turn into a disaster. I used to get on facebook and tumblr for a break, but it doesn’t feel like a break, and also it’s hard to keep it to just five minutes.
- Lunch is necessary, but getting to read fun stuff while I’m eating lunch makes it a necessary AND fun break.
- An hour every day for my continued learning projects. If I don’t work on these projects every day, I fall out of practice and my languages and skills get duller. If I don’t schedule out time for them, I just forget to get it done.
- Exercising is, for me, a lot like #8. If I don’t do it, I get out of shape. If I don’t schedule time for it, I won’t do it. Also, early afternoon is the best time for it here and now, because it’s the warmest part of Nashville’s cooling days.
- Tea and knitting! Something to look forward to. Also, an afternoon caffeine boost.
- By the time it gets to be about 7:30, I’m tired of working, and it’s great to have a specific time at which I can put away my cover letters and RELAX. Evening knitting time is usually kept for knitting for profit, whereas the afternoon knitting break is knitting for pleasure – aka projects for ME!
- I like to have at least a half an hour to read before I go to bed. It lets me unwind, gets me away from the computer screen, and makes the transition again between the work time and the sleep time. Even when I was in college, I promised myself I would read for pleasure every night before bed, even if I was so tired and busy that I could only finish one page.
- I go to bed at the same time every day, which is awesome for the same reasons as #1.
Finally, the best reason why this schedule is awesome is that I’m learning to effectively manage my own time. That skill was never required of me while I was in school and had class schedules aplenty. However, now that I’m heading into the workforce, and most jobs require you to be able to manage your own time effectively and efficiently, I feel qualified and capable to do just that.