Wednesday, August 4, 2010

How To Write and Enjoy Life at the Same Time

After being on leave for over a year, returning to my tenure-track position at the University of Kansas seems a bit daunting. While on leave, I have been completely in charge of my own schedule, and have been able to arrange my days such that I have had plenty of time for research, writing, my family, my exercise routine, and enjoying life. Happy with this balance in my life, I am determined to achieve a similarly fulfilling lifestyle upon my return to teaching and service. Here is my plan.

Keep Writing a Priority
My ability to be productive on my writing projects is a direct consequence of having kept a strict writing schedule for this year. Each morning, I write for two to four hours. When I am back in Kansas, I plan to write every morning, Monday to Friday, for two to three hours between 8 am and noon. As there are four hours between 8am and noon, I am leaving myself extra time for breaks and for attending to any important business. Writing, however, will be my priority each morning.

Make Time for Family
During this year abroad, my children have either out of school by 1pm or not in school at all. This means that we have spent nearly every afternoon and most weekends together. When I have had interviews or out-of-town research, I have spent less time with the kids. But, that has been the exception much more than the rule. Often, we have traveled together as a family. In general, we have spent much more time together this year than we normally do, and we have become closer as a family as a result. I recognize that keeping a schedule such as this is unrealistic for when we return to Kansas. However, I will make time for my family by going home to eat lunch with my husband as often as possible and I will pick my kids up from school each day at 6pm and spend the afternoons with them. Weekends, we will have plenty of family time.

Keep Exercise in My Life
This year, we have traveled to many absolutely gorgeous places and it has been a great pleasure to get my late afternoon exercise on trails overlooking the sea, on the beach, by flowing rivers, and gazing at enormous volcanoes. The scenery in Kansas does not lend itself to much praise. However, the pleasure I derive from daily exercise is not limited to the wonderful scenery, and is something I plan to keep up while I am in Kansas. I will incorporate exercise into my daily life by walking to and from work and my children’s school as often as possible, and by signing up for some exercise classes at the Rec Center.

Make a Schedule And Stick to It
The best way to make sure that my days include writing, exercise, and family time is for me to make a schedule and stick to it. I will schedule my writing every morning, my exercise each afternoon, and my family time each evening and weekend. That leaves me plenty of time between noon and 6pm to attend to my other responsibilities. I will make a schedule that allows me time to attend meetings, meet with colleagues, make phone calls, go to the library, do online research, prepare and teach my classes, and respond to emails each afternoon.

Back at my full-time job, I will not have the freedom that my fellowship has afforded me. Nevertheless, I am confident that I can maintain a reasonable schedule and an emotionally and physically healthy balance between my work and my personal life. Life, after all, is too short not to enjoy it as much as possible.

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