I did it! I survived the first week of school. Being a full time student (15 credit hours) and working a busy schedule (20-30 hours) as a nanny/babysitter is definitely something that is going to take some getting used to. Luckily, the nature of my work allows for a couple of nighttime shifts a week which allows to to do homework and reading after the kids go to sleep, and get paid $15-20 an hour for it! As of Friday, I will have either gone to class, worked, met with a new family, (or a combination of two or three of those) everyday for 10 days straight. What have I signed up for?
Although I am running on fumes most of the time, this hard work is paying off. So many people work much more than I do and have it much harder that I do. Since this is a new busy-ness for me, I am really learning the value of my time and the importance of balancing my time. I have always been quite organized which has really helped me in balancing my busy schedule. I have realized that there are so many things that could potentially go out the door with this craziness, like staying active and my diet.
Yesterday, for example, I was out of my house from 8:30 AM until nearly 2:00 AM. It would have been very convenient for me to grab some fast food for lunch and dinner, but being health and budget-conscious, I simply could not do that. Many other days, I work at hours when my meals would typically be. Being prepared in advance helps me make smarter choices.
I have been a full-time student before and I have been a full-time nanny before, so now I am using the tricks and hacks that I used during both of those times to be the most productive student/nanny that I can be.
Here are some tips that I have for students or busy people in general to maximize the productivity of all of their time:
- Have a planner! My planner is my life. It corresponds with my budget and keeps track of all of my physical commitments in the daily slots (be at class, babysit,, meetings, volunteering, date night, travel dates, etc.) I use sticky notes to keep a task list for assignments and deadlines (although I do include major exams on my daily slots so I know when NOT to book a late night babysitting slot.)
- Set daily goals! I have a place in my notebook for daily goals. These goals typically include: drink lots of water, step goal, no junk food, and specific assignments or tasks I would like to accomplish in the day.
- Plan meals for on the run! Skipping meals is NOT something I can do (because “hangry” is my middle name). I pack lunches and sometimes even dinners. I personally do not like eating cold leftovers, so I pack things that I am okay with eating cold or room temperature. (I will follow up with a quick healthy lunch post soon.) I typically bring a cooler and leave it in my car then just eat lunch in my car. If I am babysitting at a house where I am not welcome to eat the food or I prefer not to, I will pack a lunch or dinner to prepare or just eat there. I almost always carry peanuts with me as an emergency snack.
- Alot time to rest, relax, or do something fun! This is something that I struggle with because I always feel like I should be doing something more productive. I think it is important to set aside downtime to avoid procrastination. The downtime becomes part of your schedule rather than a way to avoid work.
- Be honest with yourself! When you’re setting your workload (how many courses you’re taking, how many hours you’re working, how many extracurriculars you are partaking in, etc.), be honest with how much you can handle. Perfect example: when I was working this summer, I had only mornings off, which at that point, I needed for my sanity. I started volunteering at a summer camp which I liked but began so busy and overwhelmed that I started to despise. Something had to go so I had to give up volunteering.
- SLEEP! For iPhone users, the bedtime feature on the Clock application could and be your best friend. I use it during weekdays, even when I do not have to be up early, to regulate my sleep schedule. There are nights that I do have to be up late to work, but I have been avoiding procrastination in order to avoid super late night (night-before-it’s-due) homework sessions. Sleep is valuable. You know how much you need, so set enough time aside for at least that much sleep.
- Stay hydrated! This is just an important part of being healthy and I used to find myself forgetting to drink enough when I am busy. I bring refillable cups, bottles, or Yeti-knock-offs (which really do work for a fraction of the price) EVERYWHERE I GO. This way I am always hydrated and not rushing to buy a bottle of water at a gas station because I am parched from the unforgiving Florida sun.
- Budget! Having a physical budget or savings/spending plan helps when you are on the go. Money seems to flow more easily from my pocket when I am busy or unprepared. Set limits and goals to be sure that you are not spending extra money that you do not need to be spending when you are in a rush. (Check out my budget post HERE.)
- Alot time to be active! Most people have their workout routines and preferences. Adapt them to fit into your busy schedule. Personally, all I have time for right now is an evening walk, but asI continue to shape my schedule to make extra free time, I intend on adding more intense workouts regularly.
So there you have it, a few extra minutes here and there could save you time and money every day. I hope these tips help. Stay tuned to see how long it take before school and toddlers kill me!