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A typical day for me includes working full time, being a full-time mommy, full-time wife, and a full time student. When I started working a full time job while studying part time in the evening, I was a frustrated individual. Before the full time job, I had been volunteering at a nursing home in my neighborhood three times a week. Therefore, getting the full time job threw me off balance in a way because I was already committed in the home. I had to switch from having plenty of time on my hands to having to learn how to manage the little time I had and ensure that all activities I was committed to were not only allocated quality time but also that I performed all my activities diligently. A normal day for me had to begin at four o’clock in the morning except on the weekends when I wake up at 6:30 a.m. When I leave my bed, I first put on my jogging gear and go for a 40 minutes to an hour’s jog. I have always found jogging as the best way to begin my day. Not only are all my muscles immediately awakened and strengthened, but while jogging in the dark and often in the cold, I find that I also get time to meditate on my day and clear up my mind. For a strange reason, I find jogging relaxing and the best way to begin my day. Once I get home, I take about twenty minutes to shower and another twenty to dress up. After that I make myself breakfast, which often is either a smoothie or strong black coffee, depending on my mood that morning. I prefer to sit outside as I take my breakfast and go through my planner to check what activities I have lined up for the day. I go through the activities I had hoped to achieve that day and edit accordingly. I prioritize what is urgent and postpone any tasks I cannot accomplish on that day. Soon as I am done with my breakfast, I clean up the utensils I used before I head out for work at 7:00 a.m. Fortunately, I work at a small boutique that is a ten-minute walk from my house. Therefore, unless it is raining, I always prefer to walk there rather than drive. I am expected to check in at 7:30 a.m. and check out at 3:30 p.m. During the eight hours I spend at work, I am allowed to take a break between 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. Given that I am the procurement officer at the boutique, I spend every morning going through the boutique stores and updating how much of each item is in and out of stock and my afternoons reconciling accounts, preparing requisitions and processing them thereafter. On days that suppliers are bringing in new stock, I spend most of my afternoon supervising the goods coming in and checking them for quality and quantity before processing payments for our suppliers. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, I spend my free time catching up with schoolwork while on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays I spend the hours before my online class volunteering at the nursing home.

My method to balancing my studies and my life is to prioritize my tasks and organize a planner to assist with planning and time management. This will assure that I stay organized and complete everything that I set out to do. Before I learned to manage my time, I was productive on some days, overwhelmed on others and unproductive on others. The inconsistency of my productivity was frustrating and forced me to find a solution on how to manage my time and resources efficiently and effectively to accomplish all my tasks on time and spare some time and resources for relaxation. Initially, I preferred planning electronically. I reasoned that having a Google calendar would be easier in terms of organization, because I always have my phone and could always refer to my phone in case I needed to. However, with time, I discovered that I often got my phone out to add an event to my calendar and in the process; I would come across the notifications that had come in when I was offline. I would then be tempted and give in to spending the next few minutes or hours responding to my texts or scrolling through social media. Therefore, the option to plan electronically became counterproductive for me. One day in my frustration to find an efficient and effective time management technique, I walked into a bookstore and bought a simple paper planner. The planner was designed in a way that I could write my month’s major goal, every week’s goal and daily goals and objectives. The planner had sections where I could take notes and areas where I could create a daily checklist. Writing down my goals rather than typing them out on my phone calendar made me more committed to the idea than I had ever been. As I made the process a ritual, I realized that it became more effective in my life. However, the first few attempts at planning on paper for me were a fail. Some days I got home exhausted and forgot to write the next day’s plan. On other days, I wrote unrealistic goals that later frustrated me when I was unable to accomplish them all. Eventually, however, I became better at it. It was early this month that I introduced the morning routine of going through the day’s plan and revising it accordingly. I made this adjustment when I realized that at times I planned either ignorantly without cross referencing my plans against my school work or my work load at the boutique or also unrealistically by overstretching. In addition, pairing my daily planner with a monthly budget makes it easier for me to manage my time because I have my tasks mapped out and I try not to do anything additional. This is because while some of my day-to-day activities do not change, some of my other activities are occasional such as shopping, paying my bills or visiting my mother. My budget planner dictates how I spend some of my days. One example of how I spend one of my days is, on the sixth of every month, I deposit my rent and pay bills. I first record the information on my budget planner before transferring it to my daily planner. Also, journaling on paper has helped me track and manage my time more effectively as I find writing on paper allows me to be more reflective, expressive and thus productive as compared to mental notes or electronic planning. My days are better because I finally discovered a way to plan for and effectively and efficiently manage my time and resources.

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