Most of you are juggling multiple responsibilities every day. Work schedules, childcare, ZOOM learning for your kids, household chores, grocery shopping. Whew! And on top of it all, you decided to go back to school adding yet another layer of complexity to your already complicated life. Because you know where you want to go and you made the commitment to do what you had to do to get there.
How to keep so many balls in the air? Time. Management.
We took a look at some time management tools (so you don’t have to!) and decided that the most helpful information emphasized tried and true approaches and principles.
In an article in The Harvard Business Review, author Erich C. Dierdorff talks about the three most important skills needed to successfully manage your time. He says you need:
- Awareness: thinking realistically about your time by understanding it is a limited resource.
- Arrangement: designing and organizing your goals, plans, schedules, and tasks to effectively use time.
- Adaptation: monitoring your use of time while performing activities, including adjusting to interruptions or changing priorities.
And Time Management expert and writer Julie Morgenstern suggests “do’s and don’ts” of time management that include:
- Map out everything that is important, by making a task list.
- Set priorities.
- Create a period time for one to manage.
- Say “No.”
- Don’t drop everything when feeling overwhelmed.
- Don’t think a critical task will get done in one’s spare time.
So before you download apps or read a book or just throw your hands up in surrender, spend some time assessing your skills as outlined by Dierdorff and then make your own list of do’s and dont’s and review it at the beginning of each day. And if you have any strategies that worked for you, please share!
Meet Jovani. A single mother of two from the city of Chester, Jovani was anxious about returning to school as an adult, having so much time out of the classroom. She would ask herself “Am I too old? Will I remember anything? Will I look stupid?”. But she put those negative thoughts aside and enrolled in the Human Services degree program to be a role model to her children and improve the quality of their lives. “I wanted to show them that there is more to life than running the street and hanging with your friends. Too many girls in this community get pregnant and don’t finish school. I wanted my daughter to say – if Mommy can do it, I can do it.” Her son is proud too, recognizing at his young age the challenge it is to work full time, take care of children, and go to school. “You do all that and get good grades?!”
In addition to her children, Jovani credits her fellow students and site coordinator Andrea Mathias for providing the support she’s needed to stick with it and earn her degree. From providing supplies for class to the right encouraging words at the right time, Ms. Andrea was there. Peers organized study groups to get through classes together, and the college stepped in as well, loaning Jovani a laptop and funds for books when her car was broken into.
In spite of the shift to remote learning necessitated by the covid-19 pandemic, Jovani is on track to graduate in December 2020. With her degree, Jovani anticipates finding a better job and upgrading her family’s housing. She also successfully founded her nonprofit this year, an advocacy organization for young survivors of abuse called ‘Be Your Kids’ Voice,’ winning a vision entrepreneur of the year award in the process.
Thank you Jovani for sharing your story, and congratulations on your upcoming graduation!
The pandemic. It’s literally…everywhere. It has become the filter through which all daily life activities and interactions must be sifted and adjusted. Necessary changes have caused upheaval in routines, patterns, relationships. “Normal” life was always a bit stressful, but covid has upped the stress decibel in all of our lives. We feel it. Our households feel it. The wider community and even the planet feels it. And within a Covid operating environment there are also several other intense happenings: the most important election of our time, the polarization of America, the Black Lives Matter movement, disastrous fires and unusually intense weather events…there is no let up. And we all feel the need for a break, a pause in the chaos to breathe.
The proverbial phrase “the only constant is change” is an understatement.
To maintain wellness in the midst of everything, we need to create our own pauses. Below are some ideas about how to insert time to breathe, literally, into our day. [To maintain overall to generate light and clear space in and around us]
First. Limit your intake of news and updates. It is recommended to check the news two times per day, perhaps in the morning and evening, and not right before bedtime. The 24 hour news cycle can cultivate stress over what is largely out of our control. Limit also your interactions with people who bring anxious emotion and negativity to every conversation about these times.
Second. Control what you can, starting with your own wellbeing. Focus on the basics (adequate sleep, healthy meals, physical movement). These health building blocks are especially critical now. Add or strengthen a spiritual practice that calms the mind. Mindfulness or breath meditation is a simple and powerful way to create internal space and lightness. Just try it for 5-10 minutes/day and notice what happens.
Third. Do kindness. Starting with yourself!!! Be gentle, rather than judgmental, of your thoughts, actions, struggles. Make time to engage in activities you enjoy. Protect yourself from going down the rabbit hole of negative thinking by focusing on this present moment. The fastest route back to present moment awareness is to do a body scan and practice gratitude. Look up and around for opportunities to serve others. Doing an act of service connects us with each other and can alleviate a sense of powerlessness we may have at this time.
Take time to create your pause. Make space in the chaos to breathe. And be well.