It’s that time again. Training-move-in-first day of class season! How is everyone doing out there? Personally, I’d love to put time on hold for just one week where we could all just sit down on the couch, take in a deep breath, and relax. The reality, though, is that Wednesday, August 27th was the start of what is sure to be one of the busiest years of my life. I start the final year of my graduate studies; which means I will balance academics, an internship, and my graduate assistantship in housing. Wait, did I forget about my personal commitments? I am thrilled with the idea of the new opportunities I have coming ‘round the bend – but – I am a little nervous about the very idea of it all. Of course, with my last year of graduate school comes a job search!
But, since I’m relatively positive you aren’t here to just read about my schedule, I’d like to talk a little bit about just how one finds that “harmony” in life – you know, the balance and yin & yang of work and life – and hopefully inspire some discussion about why it is important.
For me, one of the most important pieces of keeping my life in order is my online calendar, which syncs to my laptop, smart phone, and tablet – I would be absolutely lost without it. As soon as I know something is coming up, it goes on the calendar – in fact, I’ve been known to say, “if it’s not on the calendar – it isn’t happening.” After spending my first semester of graduate school trying to jot down important dates and times, or just attempting to remember them on my own, I quickly learned how important this simple change was in keeping my life sane. If you have a smartphone, it’s relatively easy to sync your calendar and keep it with you at all times – if you’re not already doing it, I highly recommend it. Speaking of scheduling, it’s not just work and academics that lands on that calendar. While it may seem ridiculous, there are days that I actually schedule in personal time – whether that is lunch by myself, a movie date with my partner, or spending time playing board games with my friends – I put it on my calendar. There’s something about having it there that makes it easier to follow through on - it’s a commitment to myself and it’s something to look forward to when you’re scrolling through all of the appointments and assignments surrounding those fun times. One may argue that it seems silly to put every single thing on a calendar, but, as I’ve mentioned – I really don’t know where I would be without it. Pre-Calendar times were filled with stress and rushing from place to place when I remembered a commitment at the last second, not to mention a few very apologetic e-mails when I had forgotten something altogether.
We all know how important this harmony is – a burnt out student affairs graduate student isn’t good for anyone. Your students and staff suffer, your job suffers, you suffer, and the people you love and care about (and who are often your support systems) do too. I was once told that if we imagined ourselves as a balloon full of air, required to release air every time we do something for someone else, every time we complete an assignment, a project – we would eventually become completely deflated, unable to help anyone else if we don’t find a way to re-inflate. So, find your air. The tool that helps you remain sane. The person who makes you laugh on a bad day. The exercise routine that makes you feel like you could take on the world. Then, make sure you take the time to re-inflate. Even if it means you schedule it on your calendar.
Do you use a calendar to keep all of your appointments and to-dos in order? Why or why not? Let’s talk about it on twitter at @SEAHOGrad – can’t wait to see you there.
Alexandra Fields is a dynamic, dedicated Graduate Resident Director at the University of Kentucky. She received her Bachelors of Science in Psychology from the University of Central Florida and is currently pursuing her Masters of Social Work at the University of Kentucky. Alexandra is passionate about developing student leaders, training, and advocacy. In addition to her work in Student Affairs, she is a domestic violence and sexual assault crisis counselor and identifies as an ally to members of many communities.