Getting yourself set up for the semester. What thoughts come to mind? Figuring out your class schedule, getting your books, settling into your living situation, seeing friends who are returning to campus, transitioning from what perhaps was a more “open flow” during the summer (there always seems to be more of an “openness” to summer, doesn’t there?) into a structured routine for fall. Making some choices now and setting your intentions for the semester is a good action to take.
This is how I would start. Since classes rank high on the list of must-do’s (and it pretty much the reason you are here) – start with your class schedule (hopefully it’s a good one). From there, determine how many hours you may need/want to work for a part-time job and try to set up a schedule with your boss that you can count on from week to week. Beyond that, will you be working with your mentor on research this semester – what’s the time commitment going to be? It’s important to establish what the expectations are for both mentor and scholar so that you can develop a mutually agreeable plan of action.
Since you are McNair scholars – what’s the line-up of activities for the fall? If you are applying to grad school, what’s your plan for completing your applications and visiting your top-choice schools? Student organizations, volunteer activities and any other extra-curricular’s should fall in next. What is a reasonable amount of time to spend on these things? Friends, significant-other-types and family – what feels good to you here? How often do you like to go home or go out with your friends on a weekly basis? Finally, think about “me time” – how much do you need, how best can you make this a priority? As an introvert myself, I like to prioritize “me” time farther up on the list.
A brief recap – goes like this:
2. Job (if applicable)
4. McNair/Grad school apps
6. Friends + family
7. ME time
Pretty full up at this point, huh? And we haven’t factored in STUDY time or as the title of this post suggests (and you know it as my mantra) – eating and sleeping and moving your body. Yikers.
Okay. So, let’s go back to your top-seven list above. Ideally, you are mapping or plotting this out on a blank sheet of paper (or several) so that some brainstorming can occur. This takes some creative maneuvering, for sure.
An underlying theme here is BEING REAL. You know how you tend to work, how you tend to deal with pressure, how you tend to treat your body (and mind and soul?) as the semester progresses. Consider the level of intensity of your classes this semester. Maybe you have some “wiggle” room in that some of your credits are actually research hours. Maybe it isn’t necessary to work so much (fat chance, right?). Even though you love volunteering, maybe you need to scale back just a bit?
The point is – as you are situating your “bubbles” (each bubble = one item on your schedule) – try to keep them tight. Be generous and stingy, at the same time. Be generous with blocks of time for STUDY, be generous with blocks of time to see friends (perhaps every Thursday night?). Be stingy with time sucks that you don’t really love and “can afford” to cinch up – activities that you’ve outgrown, here’s where I would insert “work” again – can you afford to work a little less to become a little more sane? Might be a good trade-off.
Here’s where you’re going to really take a look at the EAT – SLEEP – MOVE categories as well. Think about Kati’s ideas on food (especially starting with a good breakfast). Think back to our sleep seminar with Dr. Johnson and some of his tips (just how much sleep do you need per night? when are you most productive – early morning or are you a “busting it out” kind of night owl?). Think about how good you felt (afterward!) when you worked out at the gym, hit up some yoga or went for a run this summer. Word on the street is that exercise makes you feel good. And it reduces stress, helps you focus and be more productive in all of the other areas of your life. Seems like a no-brainer to me.
If you have a long day of class, will you pack a lunch and some healthy snacks? When are you going to eat? When does dinner fit in? Insert the time you *ideally* want to go to sleep and wake up each day. Now, consider your exercise regime. If you don’t have one, now is time to get one. What feels good to you in this area? What’s the recommended amount these days? According the Centers For Disease Control, adults require 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week, along with 2 or more days a week of muscle-strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups. Base minimum – there you go.
For me, yoga is a non-negotiable, as I like to call it (what are YOUR non-negotiable’s?). Besides the physical practice (I LOVE feeling lean and strong), it keeps my mind at ease. I always feel “wrung out” after yoga. It’s like resetting myself so that I am a better self. I know I need more cardio too (to help offset the double-stuff Oreos?). I always feel great after a run. So, I shoot to do yoga 2x/week, a gym workout 2x/week and then do at least one run (usually three miles) on the weekend – so I’m doing “something” for at least five days per week in total.
What’s it going to be for you? What makes your body (and mind) feel good? Since spreading the gift of yoga is my personal passion, I absolutely LOVE hearing scholars talk about how they are enjoying their practice, how days they do yoga are just better days in general and how it dissolves stress. I am super impressed by my scholar “workout partners” this summer. I just LOVED, LOVED, LOVED that experience, hands down. You inspired me to push myself and I’m humbled by the love and support that we all showed toward each other – what a special experience to share. Thank you.
Back to our bubbles. Where can you shift, tighten, expand? Are you feeling overwhelmed by the bubbles or somewhat relieved now that you’ve mapped them out? Hopefully, the latter! I’m going to be offering SCHEDULE MAKEOVER MAGIC sessions for those interested. Let’s sit down, take a look at what you’ve got, how you plan to situate it (read: your LIFE) and then let’s play. Let’s plot things out. We’ll play around with different scenarios and “what-if’s.” Let’s see about creating more space to breath, more “wiggle room” for those unexpected assignments that come up, how about consistent “down time” to keep yourself feeling refreshed and excited about all of the good things happening this fall?
Having a conversation about how you intend to set yourself up within your schedule can be invaluable. You are being proactive. Making choices to “be real” with your top priorities (or even figuring out what those priorities really are) can make a huge difference for your peace of mind. Being clear on your intentions for the semester – I recommend coming up with three – can really set an awesome tone for things to unfold in happy, easy going and perhaps even surprisingly good ways.
Try it for yourself and see how it goes!
CLICK HERE to initiate a Schedule Makeover Magic session w/Lynn.