EdD

Earning a Degree with Time Management and Self-Care

I recently tweeted, “Those who are working on a masters/doctorate while working full-time: what are your best time management and self care tips? I’m writing a blog post and I’d love to include more ideas” and received an overwhelming response. (Here’s the original tweet, there are lots of amazing tips. Thank you to everyone who responded!)

In May 2019, I started my EdD in Educational Technology at Boise State University. From the beginning, we were advised that we would need to dedicate sufficient time to our studies and to think about how we would prioritize our lives for the next several years. Completing a masters or doctorate degree while working full-time requires a temporary shift in priorities. Carla Jefferson emphasizes that we must “look at [our] already full plate and prioritize. Determine what’s important to you so that you can focus on giving your program the best effort”

Aubrey Yeh, one of my closest friends and a constant source of encouragement and accountability, wisely says, “Realize you can’t give 100% to teaching, grad school, & the rest of life. It’s okay to say no to some things, to not try every new thing that you want in your classroom, or to decide that paper is ‘good enough.’”

Tips for Time Management

Work is like a gas, it fits into the space we give it. I’ve found that planning ahead allows me flexibility for planned or spontaneous adventures.

My Passion Planner with color-coded assignment due dates

The general consensus from those that responded to my initial tweet is that it is essential to plan ahead to maximize time. I use a Passion Planner to track my personal schedule and EdD work. At the beginning of the semester, I sat down with my planner, the course syllabi, Flair pens, and stickers, and added all of my assignment due dates into my calendar. For larger assignments, I added checkpoint due dates to keep myself on track.

The incredible Knikole Taylor says “My advice is to do something every single day. Some days [it’s]… scheduling reading and assignments on my calendar. Other days, I’m reading, writing, or researching. I work to touch something each day.” Whether you work every day or schedule days off, remember to be intentional about how and where you spend your time.

Tips for Self-Care

I’m grateful self-care has been a huge topic lately. It’s like being on an airplane and hearing the flight attendants say to “put on your mask before assisting others.” If we’re panicking, we’re not much use to the people around us.

I love what Samantha Bahna says: “Make time for ‘you’ as if it were an assignment. It becomes easy to push yourself to the side when juggling tasks. Remembering that you are important and those tasks cannot get done with a solid ‘you’ foundation built to tackle them is key. Don’t cancel on yourself!”

Ollie makes sure I get my daily walks!

What hobbies and activities help you relax? Are there any activities do the opposite? In my first meeting with my EdD advisor, Dr. Hsu, his main goal for me is to not work so hard that I forget to take care of myself. He (jokingly) required me to include what my dog and I have been up to in our biweekly learning log posts. Ollie reminds me to take short walks at least twice a day and take breaks to play! Jon Spike recommends the Calm to help with stress relief and mindfulness.

Cooking and reading are two other activities that I enjoy and take my mind off of school and work. I have also done some freezer meal prep for healthy weekday meals, especially after longer days at work. The task that stresses me out the most is cleaning; one of the best gifts I gave myself was hiring monthly cleaners!

Related to both time management and self-cafe, scheduling enough time to sleep is essential. For me, sleep is a non-negotiable: I need eight hours of sleep each night and about an hour before bed to wind down and read.

Here is some more crowdsourced advice from my Professional Learning Network (PLN).

What are your non-negotiables to balancing work, school, and life? What are your favorite time management and self-care tips?

 

Reflections

2019 In Review

As I’ve done for the past four years, I have written my year in review (past year’s posts: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015). Overall, 2019 was a really great year! Even though there have been a few very difficult moments, I’ve tried to focus on the little and big positives. Not to go too deep into this, but this is not a case of toxic positivity (you know, the “good vibes only” t-shirt type life)–really, it’s about cultivating gratitude each day, recognizing that life isn’t perfect, and finding the beauty and growth opportunities in those more difficult moments.

Where I was (December 2018)

  • In December 2018, I was feeling hopeful that 2019 would provide me new opportunities and a fresh start. I was recovering from ending a 10 year relationship, and surrounding myself with people who were encouraging and hopeful. I wasn’t in a bad place, just reflective and looking forward to moving on.
  • Professionally, I was enjoying my work, although a little stressed over a few big changes, including the elimination of my Blended Learning Specialist (technology resource) period due to budget issues.

Where I am (January – December 2019)

  • My OneWord for 2019 was reclaim: I needed to reclaim my physical and emotional space and plant seeds for new opportunities and adventures. I redecorated my guest room and my office, bought some new furniture, traveled, went to concerts by myself, and rediscovered passions and hobbies that I had hidden away for years.
  • In February, I turned 30 and took myself to New York City. It was mostly a solo trip, although I did meet up with a few friends for meals and adventures. I felt so much joy in exploring a new city! It was a good starting place for some future solo travel.
  • In May, I started my EdD in educational technology and Boise State University. It’s 100% online, and has been great so far. I like my cohort and professors, and the workload is manageable on top of working full time.
  • The summer was filled with an incredible ISTE adventure that started with a visit to my good friends’ Jess and Sean’s house (love you both!). We took the train down to Philadelphia, and stayed at an awesome AirBnB.
  • In July I took a week at my family’s cottage in northern Wisconsin–my great-grandparents bought it in the 1940s. This was my first time having my own week (previously I’ve only ever gone with my parents) and two of my friends joined me. Per my mother’s wishes, my aunt “chaperoned” us–those of you that know me well, you know this is highly unnecessary; however, it was helpful for things like caring for the boat and such. I spent the whole week sitting on the dock, drinking coffee, reading, swimming, and enjoying being detached from the world. It was perfect!
  • Fueled by Coffee and Love: A Brew Perspective was published in July 2019. We celebrated with a release party at Project Reo Collective!
  • In September, I drove to Phoenix, Arizona for a Dave Matthews Band concert. I’ve always wanted to do a destination DMB concert, so as part of my reclaim theme this year, I did it! It was well worth the drive and heat. When I got home, I spontaneously bought a ticket to see DMB at Kaboo in Del Mar. I’m not a festival person, so this was super crazy for me!
  • November was the best adventure of the whole year: Iceland! Our friend Ingvi Ómarsson hosts conference every year for Icelandic teachers and brought a bunch of us in to speak. We saw the Northern Lights!!! Not only was the conference wonderful, but also I met some amazing new friends (love you Christine, Heather, Hildur, and Álfhildur!!). This was also the pivotal moment in my reclaim year because I realized how many opportunities and experiences I’ve put off due to fear or allowing other people to negatively influence my passions. I came home energized and antsy to push myself to do more.
  • Surprisingly, even with starting my doctorate, I finished a total of 60 books! (22 audiobooks + 18 books + 20 ebooks)

Where I’m going (January 2020 and beyond!)

  • I’m looking forward to continuing to grow as a teacher and person. I still have a lot to learn about this world so I can drive change in my school and community. Got any book recommendations?
  • This year, I want to focus on taking advantage of opportunities and figuring out solid short- and long-term goals.