With my first assignment completed and submitted to the MLIS universe, I’ve had a day or two to catch my breath before starting in on the next onslaught of projects and readings and feeling like I’m on an intellectual treadmill. It’s not that the content is all that difficult to comprehend, it’s my ability to focus.
When the semester started I thought I would be able to manage two courses and work full-time hours at the library. Many of my colleagues were doing the same thing so surely if they could do it, then I could too. Well. That didn’t work out as well as I had hoped. Within the first two weeks I was completely overwhelmed because there just wasn’t enough time in the day to do all the things I needed and wanted to do. So, I would schedule myself down to the hour just to have some semblance of control over how stressed out my life was becoming.
5:30 AM to 6:30 AM – Wake up. Wash the dishes from the night before. Drink coffee and eat breakfast. Shower. Read while blow-drying my hair. Pack lunch and snacks for the day. Get dressed. Feed the cat.
7:00 AM to 8:45 AM – Arrive at the coffee shop. Drink more coffee. Read, write and study while listening to the same classical music playlist again and again. Drink more coffee.
9:00 AM to 12:00 PM – Arrive at work. Deliver early literacy program, cover the information desk, respond to e-mails, prepare for upcoming programs. Engage with the public. Drink more coffee.
12:00 PM to 1:00 PM – Eat lunch while reading and listening to a white noise playlist in the staff workroom. Drink more coffee. Try not to fall asleep.
1:00 PM to 5:00 PM – Work the information desk, check e-mails, prepare for more programs, attend a meeting, rove around the library and constantly engage with the public. Drink more coffee.
5:30 PM to 6:30 PM – Get home and make supper. Try not to fall asleep. Drink tea.
7:00 PM to 10:00 PM – Drink tea while attempting to study. Inevitably loose focus and fall asleep from a long day of dealing with the public and trying to concentrate on readings during the downtime.
This was not a sustainable schedule because by the time I came home at the end of the day, all I wanted to do was sleep. As much as I love engaging with the public, it takes a lot out of me. And what’s worse is that I would start resenting the seven hours I would spend there doing my job when I could be using it to read and research for my classes. It’s not like my job really gives me the ability to schoolwork on the sly because I’m always actively engaged in whatever I’m doing. I barely have enough time to respond to work e-mails at the information desk, leave alone read an article assigned for school. The juggling act was just too much.
So, I dropped a course and things became a little easier but I still feel like I don’t have enough time. I kept comparing myself to my colleagues who all seem like hyper-efficient robots in their ability to do everything simultaneously while still managing to shower and not fall asleep on their feet. How can you work full time, do school and still maintain a quality of life that is fulfilling? Yeah. Some people can pull it off but me? I can’t. If the past two months have shown me anything it’s that I need time to focus, time to work, time to play and time to take care of myself. If I don’t get all of that, I render myself useless. Or I get sick. (I’ve had a cold for three weeks already)
I’ve had a major priority shift since the MLIS started. I dropped a course in an attempt to have a more manageable workload but that’s not enough. After a lot of thought and internal debate, I made the decision to go part-time and applied for a position that became available in a smaller community library. It was a big decision to even apply because leaving a permanent, pension-paying full-time job is kind of crazy in today’s economic climate but I knew that in the long run I’d be happier and healthier. Thankfully, by the grace of the Library Gods, I got the position! My days feel lighter because I know in just two weeks I’ll have the flexibility to do all the things I need to do, while still maintaining the creative and social side of my life that keeps me from falling apart. In the meantime, I just have to keep my head above water for just a little while longer and then I can breathe.
So that brings me to now. After spending an hour writing and drinking coffee on this quiet Sunday morning, it’s time to buckle back down and read. I have what can only be described as a butt-load of articles to read and understand by the end of the day so I can set myself up for writing about it tomorrow. I hope the rest of you are doing something a little more relaxing than that 🙂