Amongst other things, I am a full-time, completely online student. Combine this with a part-time job, running a household, a partner who works away, two German Shepherds, keeping up with my 11 year old daughter, getting ready to launch a small business and volunteer work, and it is easy to let a day or two (or three) pass by without doing any study.
I’m not alone when it comes to the juggling act, and when life becomes busy the first thing that slides is my studies.
Today I find myself falling behind- with three assignments due within the next four days, two full days work and an upcoming conference to research for, the overwhelm is palpable.
This isn’t a pity party, I have no-one to blame but myself, but right now it’s time to hustle (luxuriously and elegantly of course).
How do we gain back the focus, the inspiration and the direction?
Here are some tips that I use when I fall behind.
Tidy the house.
I cannot focus with an untidy house. I do the dishes, sort washing, vacuum and wash the floors, tidy the lounge and bedrooms (always making the bed). The cleanliness and the space brings clarity and focus, lessening the distractions and quietening the clutter-noise.
Tidy the study space.
I am incredibly lucky to have a whole room dedicated to my studies and business. My home office space is simple and elegant, designed to be a space dedicated to “making things happen”. I clear the desk off, filing life admin paperwork, making a note of any bills I have received, the amounts and due dates in my diary before filing or shredding, straightening pens, books and relevant study materials. I also vacuum in here and bring in fresh flowers (at the moment I have a small bouquet of Geraldton Wax that I have picked from my garden sitting on my desk).
Make a to-do list.
As a working mother, student and chief cook-and-bottle-washer, there are always pressing things that need to be actioned. Having them rolling around in my head creates white noise, the “I have to remember to do x”, or “y needs to be done before Monday”, or “z is happening next week”. I write all these down, a brain dump of sorts- once it’s written I can free that mind space. Usually I find that most of these are written in my diary anyway, I just forgot that I remembered!
I also write simple tasks. For example, my to-do list and schedule for the next five days is as follows:
- Assignment 1 (legal studies) due 5pm
- Post care package parcel to partner (currently working away)
- Grocery shopping- need cooking oil, washing powder, dog food, face cleanser…
- Work 10am-4pm
- Appointment 5pm regarding social media marketing and administration for local winery
- Work 10am-3pm
- Work 10am-4pm
- Appointment at 5pm
- Full day in the city- my parents have been overseas for six months and are returning on Tuesday. We live three hours south of Perth, I’m not expecting to be home before 7pm.
- Work 12:30-6pm
- Daughter has art classes, will need to find a lift for her.
- Work 11am-2pm
- Daughter has acrobatics classes at 5pm for 1 1/2 hours.
Writing it all out doesn’t make it seem as overwhelming as is actually will be. Add into this the life admin aspects (paying bills, grocery shopping, laundry, keeping a tidy house, walking dogs, planning and cooking dinner), and it can seem pretty crazy when in amongst it all. Writing it down takes away the fear of overwhelm.
Make a second to-do list
Once I have brain dumped and laid everything out, the next list is one for what I have to achieve with the studies. I go over what I have already done, dissect where I am actually up to versus where I should be, and create an action plan. A word of caution here (for my benefit, not yours- I often fall into this trap), I can spend more time planning than actually doing.
Make a column for every unit (I am currently doing three). In each column write what needs to be done:
- Unit A:
- Read chapter 3
- complete Part 2 Assignment 1
- brainstorm/research Part 3 Assignment 1
- Unit B:
- Undertake online quiz, do practice quiz and find gaps in knowledge.
- Unit C:
- Read legislation and breakdown Assignment 4.
Let go of guilt
You’re doing so well- juggling everything, and everyone. Slip ups happen, we get behind, we miss a deadline- but at the end of the day you are actually doing this. You are making this happen, and that in itself is so important. You’re behind. So what? You know what you need to do, and given the fact that you are studying to further your education- you are already halfway there.
And now- it’s time to hustle. Make the coffee, turn on the Spotify study playlist and focus.
You’ve got this.