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.
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!”
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?