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.
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.
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.
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.