doctorate

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

Tips for Preventing the Teacher Summer Slide

A few weeks back, there was some Twitter buzz on what good teachers should or should not do with their summer break. Should we be learning as much as we can, preparing for our new students, and collaborating with our PLN? Should we be 100% unplugged, relax with our family, and not think about school until the night before we go back? Last summer, I wrote about Navigating the Sea of Shoulds, and pushing back against all the things we should do.

We all have our own summer priorities and ways we want to spend this time off. The key here is to find what works best for each of us to ensure we reach the first day of school with our whole and rested selves!

La Jolla Cove
One of my first summer outings was catching the sunset at La Jolla Cove!

I reflected on my school year in last week’s blog post, and mentioned that it was a stressful and emotionally draining year. I didn’t quite realize the full extent until now, as I am struggling to come out of the fog. As much as I have relaxed at home and traveled to present at conferences (all of which help me decompress), I still feel the weight of the year.

As educators, we worry about kids and the “summer slide” where they lose some content knowledge during their time off. My district has only 6 weeks off for summer–a decision made before I entered the district 7 years ago, and presumably to help mitigate the summer slide.

What we don’t talk about is teachers and the summer slide! I know my audience is mostly friends on Twitter, so maybe this doesn’t entirely apply to this crowd, since we all embrace a growth mindset and are seeking opportunities (via Twitter) to grow as teachers and leaders. Nonetheless, how can we make sure we are intentional with our time, even during our summer break?

My take? I’m going to take the same advice/summer assignment I give to my students!

Read a Book

This one is easy. You don’t need to tell me twice to go read a book! I’m hoping to read a mix of YA lit, education books, and nonfiction this summer. Plus, I’ll sprinkle in a few audiobooks during my plane flights. Even with all my travel so far this year, I’ve only finished 2 books.

My summer “to read” stack!

And, I admit, I’ve been watching more TV than I usually do–with new seasons of Masterchef and Food Network Star (really, the only two shows I regularly watch!), lots of baseball games, and the World Cup.

I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts on some of my summer books on my book blog!

I want to return to school with a few more recommendations for my students. And I hope they have some for me too.

Give Someone a Hug

When I give this homework assignment to my students, I’m met with some incredulous looks. Yes, yes, I am asking you to go hug someone! Yes, it can be me!

This assignment is less about the hug, and more about seeking out people who we value, trust, and enjoy being around.

I’ll be at ISTE next week. Come find me, give me a hug, then let’s take a selfie!

Go Outside

It’s so easy for me to spend an entire day sitting on the couch, mindlessly scrolling Twitter, eating ice cream, and reading books. I know there are plenty of people out there that “go outside” is second nature. It’s like, third nature for me (if that wasn’t a thing, now it is). I have a hard time getting myself there, but once outside, I’m happy!

Zoo adventure with my friend Nick! 

One of my favorite places in San Diego is the San Diego Zoo. With my membership pass, I can always bring in a guest for free. When I think about ways to get myself outside longer than walking my dog, hanging with the animals at the San Diego Zoo or San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and learning about endangered species sounds like an excellent idea! And, this leads me to my next point…

Learn Something!

Summer is a great time for learning something that interests us! I don’t assign my students summer reading or experiments for science. Instead, I want them to spend this time learning something new on their own. We are surrounded by so many sources of knowledge, from videos, to the internet, to local museums, to family members.

One great thing about San Diego is that different museums in Balboa Park are open to San Diego residents on Tuesdays (see the schedule here). I’ll be around for a few Tuesdays, and I look forward to visiting some museums.

I know I owe it to myself and my future students to take care of me. It feels 100% selfish at times, but I know ultimately this investment will pay off down the road.

How are you resting and recharging over summer?

Let us know in the comments below 🙂