Day 2, Time: Time is a valuable resource. Did you spend your time wisely last year? What can you do to cultivate more quality in your time during 2015?
When I was a grad student at UMD, I had to learn effective time management skills, and I had to learn it fairly quickly. Between teaching classes, taking your own classes, writing papers, reading books and articles, working with your advisor and other faculty, and doing additional side research projects (that may or may not include grant writing), you are constantly trying to find time to do it all, which only gets more complicated when you’re in the last stretch and you have to apply for jobs and finish your dissertation on top of it. Whew it makes me tired just writing about it, let alone thinking about how in the world did I manage to do it.
In my first few years of grad school, I was pretty terrible at maintaining good work-life balance. I was constantly working, using school-related time as my only real social time. The further along I went in my program, however, and the closer I got to my Ph.D., the more I realized that I needed to add something in my life that not only serves as a fun distraction, but would also keep me sane.
In comes ballroom. Thanks solely in part to my first ballroom partner and good friend Ken, I joined Ballroom at Maryland (BAM) and started dancing in Fall 2011. In almost no time, I was hooked. I traveled with the team to ballroom competitions. I spent several days a week in practice space taking classes and dancing. To this day, I tell folks that if it weren’t for ballroom, I would have probably never finished my dissertation and graduated. And believe me, I am totally dead serious.
With all that said, the #1 reason why I kept dancing, is hands down the amazing people I met along the way. As my very wise Ballroom Big (who happens to now be my boyfriend, go figure) once told me, it’s not the dancing that keeps us in the club, it’s the people. The friends I’ve made through BAM are people I want to keep in touch with for the rest of my life. Definitely the forever friends kind, and I ain’t lying. I honestly don’t know where I’d be right now if it weren’t for this great community of folks that I consider my BAMily.
So what does all this have to do with time, and how my time was spent last year? Fast forward to three years to Fall 2014. I am now in my first year at VCU, away from UMD and away from my ballroom friends. As much as I missed them dearly, I kept in mind what they helped me to achieve in my last years of grad school – taking the time to do the things I love and not spend every single waking moment working. I took it to heart and I made it a point to find outlets to pursue my passions outside of my job. For example, I joined the Richmond Women’s Chorus and took Cuban salsa lessons at the Cary St. Gym. I stopped working on weekends (something I never ever could do as a grad student!) and used that time to hang out with Derek and our beloved friends.
The point of the matter is that last year I tried to make more time for more quality time. What does this mean? Well, I wanted to make sure that addition to my work I was spending time cultivating my relationships as well – whether it is taking a break to chat with someone at the office, or making time to meet with a student about future goals, or taking time during research team conference calls to check in on how everyone is doing. Outside of those work-related examples I tried to keep up with friends in NJ and MD, and to try to see them as much as possible.
I’m continuing to work on this going into 2015. I must admit that the past week has been rough, as sickness over winter break caused me to spend my recent days prepping my classes and catching up on work. But now that the first day of the semester is behind me (it went very well by the way!) I am hoping to get back into better work-life balance habits, and start the new year getting back into all of my fun activities and spending time with the fun people that make my life so worthwhile.