Balance, Career, Work

9-5 Wars: My Journey from full-time student to full-time employee

I lived near campus when I was a full-time student and I still had to rush to just barely make my 10 am classes but lately, I’ve been out of bed by 6:00 am and out the door by 7:00 am. I recently started working full-time while being in school part-time two days a week. I didn’t quite feel done with my undergraduate experience when I first got the notification of having completed my credits so I decided to step into the workplace and get the experience but still stay in touch with academia. Before this new position, I had never worked 9-5 every day; I have had summer jobs but all with odd shift hours or 4-6 hours per shift which made sense for me at the time. Now that I have joined the workforce, I am in complete shock of how much more my body is capable of in a full day.

Tim Hortons cup in Sargam's hand

coffee and I, what a wonderful love story

Sleep

One good thing that I noticed right away which came out of this is me going to bed on time, without fail! I realized that having the liberty to wake up later on some days allowed me to sleep later which threw off my entire schedule. Now that I know that I have to be up at the same time every day, my body knows exactly when to fall asleep and I love it!

Even on the weekends, I don’t sleep in past 8 am or 9 am because my body fell into the cycle pretty quickly. Now this is either a blessing or a curse, because every time I’m invited to a dinner party that’s meant to last longer, I shut down around 11 pm and look for the door. It is a good thing for my productivity though because now I have the weekend to finish readings for the upcoming classes  and I have enough time to finish my assignments to get the most out of my days off.

screenshot of the Bedtime app in the new iOS showing that I get 7 hrs of sleep

Shoutout to Apple for making it easier to track how late I was this morning

Meals

Obviously, when your circadian rhythm is intact, other things in your life follow suit. Every morning, during my carpool, I eat the same “egg and cheese on English muffin” from Tim’s and drink the same regular coffee. My office breaks for lunch around the same time daily and I pack almost the same sandwich for lunch. I get home around 7:00pm on the days that I don’t have class and 10:00 pm on days that I do. I prepare a light dinner which is usually healthy because salad is the easiest thing to throw together after a long day.

This sounds quite boring but for me, this is amazing because for the longest time, as a student, I would forget to eat until later in the afternoon or I would eat too much while pulling an all-nighter. So getting my circadian rhythm intact has really changed the way my body feels during a full day.

Bringing it home

Last thing that I quite enjoy about working full-time is that I can find the right balance between school and life. I turn off my computer at the end of the day and it’s almost like I’m done with one thing on my task-list! I go to my classes and finish my readings without any tension of having another commitment over my head. This has really helped in the way I engage in self-care because my mind isn’t constantly multi-tasking.

Two monitors,a phone on a desk

It’s true that I needed a full-time role to get my schedule in check, but I believe that if I ever went back to school full-time, I would definitely implement such a schedule for myself. I would make it a point to be up and working on something at a set time regardless of whether I have to be in class or not. It’s hard to be a self-motivator because assignments pop up and take longer than you expected or a midterm takes longer to study for. However, I’ve also learned that it’s harder to ignore my body’s needs after a certain point, so I’m motivated to fit work, school and nutrition into a 16 hour day to make sure I get enough sleep. I’m more motivated to ignore the distractions.

I still run late though, I still drag my feet a little through the day and I’ve sacrificed a lot to do this job for 8 hours of the day. I’m still learning how to be as productive as possible and I’ll continue my journey as I transition out of university.