Now that I’ve more or less settled into the flow of my new routine, I’ve been thinking a lot about time — not in an intense, existential kind of way, but in the way of, “Isn’t it interesting how life changes so much when your schedule shifts?” Schedules are important to all of us. In my life pre-September, I was in the typical corporate structure — working from about 8 AM to 5 PM with an hour for lunch, Monday through Friday. Now that I’m working for myself and managing my own time, schedules are equally important, even if they’re a little less rigid.
In any case, time feels TOTALLY different in my new world, and I’ve been trying to figure out for the last few weeks how to best explain it. I had an epiphany yesterday and I’m excited to finally have a comparison that works. Here it is:
My time these days makes me feel like I’m back in high school.
I know, I KNOW this sounds a little ridiculous, but I promise it’s not.
An important part of this explanation is that I was a pretty big nerd. I absolutely LOVED school, and I put a lot of pressure on myself to take challenging classes that often had me spending four or five hours on homework each night. Because I wasn’t the most social teenager and preferred to spend time with a few close friends instead of going to parties, I also tended to work on assignments on the weekends.
Given my studying habits and generally low-key social life, the seven days of the week often felt pretty fluid to me. I spent a few hours a day at school Monday through Friday, then had the bulk of the afternoon and evening to flow through the list of everything else I needed to do, plus other things that I wanted to do. It was the perfect mix of structured and flexible time, which I had to learn to manage at that younger age because I was so competitive with my grades (and pretty much everything else).
Life these days feels a lot like that. For about six hours of the day, five days a week, I’m working with my head down in a very focused way, which I would compare to the time actually spent “in school.” Beyond that, for a few hours later into the weeknights and also on the weekends, I’m adjusting my schedule based on what projects are still unfinished and what “life stuff” still needs to be accomplished. That part of it feels a lot like homework back in high school, because its more flexible — I can write while dinner is in the oven or late into the night, or clear out my inbox and catch up on the news while Matt and I watch TV. Sometimes I don’t have any homework, and sometimes I really feel like I need to cram.
For a nerdy high schooler like me, there was never really a “quitting time,” because I was always doing homework or busy with other activities. That’s how my life works now. When I was working in corporate America, I would pretty consistently shut down my computer at 5:00 and be out the door by 5:02, and that never happens anymore! Even though my time is more flexible these days, I can catch myself working until 9:30 PM on a Friday night, or peeking at my laptop on a Sunday afternoon and suddenly realizing that it’s two and a half hours later and I’ve gotten involved in a new project.
The good news about all of this is that I really liked high school — and the even better news is that I’ve lived another decade of life since then, so I actually know how to manage my time now without turning into a total stress-case (mostly). I really love the way my “work life” and “personal life” are blending together with this schedule as an adult, because I think it makes me a lot more passionate about what I do. Regrouping has also been good for me socially, and I’m connecting with friends more authentically. In that way, it feels like I’m back to my real self again, which has been totally refreshing and makes me feel a little more like that Pennsylvania girl in the mid-2000’s 🙂
To go along with these high school vibes — and to celebrate #throwbackthursday, of course — scroll down for some classic (and slightly embarrassing, not entirely flattering) photos!
(And don’t forget — if you want a chance to win one of my favorite necklaces from The Shine Project, check out all the giveaway details and instructions here. I’ll be drawing the winner on Monday 10/31, so there are only a few days left to subscribe!)