Long-term readers have probably detected patterns in my blogging, and one of those patterns is that a key way that I get psyched for a new academic year is to plan my schedule, treating this as an artistic task: the art of creating a Good Day.
I've read back on my previous attempts, and think I have a better sense of what works and what does not work, and so, with brand new optimism, I hereby present my latest version:
1. Running. Today I got up early and went for a run! Because of this one-day success (the first time in about a year that I've actually gone running, as such), I now perhaps ridiculously think that I can integrate this permanently into my life at long last! Now, lest my patient readers think I've turned inexplicably irrational, let me explain. First of all, there have been times of my life when I've succeeded in maintaining a morning running schedule. In fact, this worked well for me two summers ago, when I even ran in a 5K at the end of the summer, and last summer -- until it got interrupted by my (minor) surgery. I tried to pick it up again last fall, but it failed miserably. Someone told me that maybe I'm just not a morning person. But my attempts to re-locate exercise to other parts of the day ended up failing too because my schedule just gets too busy and complex during the academic year.
But I've re-evaluated what went wrong last fall. I had classes every morning at 8:30. As the daylight hours get shorter, and the weather gets colder, it got harder and harder for me to get up early enough to fit the running in, until I did give up in discouragement.
But this semester is different. I only have 8:30 classes two days a week. So my plan is simple: get up at 6:00 am every morning, and on the mornings that I don't have 8:30 classes, go for a run. The mornings I do have 8:30 classes I can skip. In fact, building in these allowed days off will be good for me, I think -- otherwise I can push myself too hard too soon and risk injury (since, after all, I keep getting older as time passes...!)
On weekends I'll try to keep to the schedule in terms of what time I get up in the morning, but I'll let myself decide whether to run, or just walk, or give both a miss, based on how I feel. I'll try to go at least once during the weekend, but that's not a hard and fast rule.
The truth is, establishing a three- to four-day-a-week pattern will be a vast improvement over what I've managed lately. It is enough to build a solid base of fitness.
I think this is crucial for me, because when I do exercise regularly, I feel better about life, and better about myself. The effect is immediate. I'm feeling it right now! And the truth is, this is a nice way to start the day! Instead of worrying immediately about work, I will know that I will have this time for myself, to do something good for myself, and to immerse myself in nature: a world bigger than me and my little concerns! It will anchor me in much-needed Perspective!
And my training program is simple: Walk 10 minutes. Run as much as I feel like in the next span of 10-15 minutes. Walk 10 minutes.
I can gradually expand the middle section, marking with celebration certain milestones like "running 5 minutes continuously without strain," "running 10 minutes continuously without strain," etc., until I can run 30 minutes continuously again, framed within 5-10 minute warm-up and cool-down periods. When I'm there, I'll let myself stay there, and perhaps even start entering 5K races again if I feel inspired to do so.
2. Another feature of my schedule is that I am building in dedicated research times again. This sort of worked for long stretches well into each semester last year, and so my optimism is well-grounded, I think. My previous attempts have not been total successes, but they have not been total failures either. And I think I've addressed some problematic patterns I've noticed from the past.
So the plan is that on the days I have class later in the day, I start off with two hours of research (Monday and Wednesday; on Friday this extends to lunchtime). On the days I have my 8:30 class, I will go to my carrel immediately after class and work for an hour. This still gives me space to plan for my later class.
The key is that I must go immediately after class, without pausing to check e-mail. In the past, I allowed a half-hour gap to get a cup of tea and check e-mail, and that was my undoing -- I got caught up into dealing with administrative matters until then I had to shift attention to class prep again.
My new plan is to not check e-mail, but deal with all of that after my afternoon class.
3. Music practice. As is my usual schedule, I do this in the late afternoon or evening -- as soon as I get home, or, if getting home presses too close to dinner, after dinner then. Then the rest of the evening after music practice is time to do more work if I need to, or (rarely) to relax if I need rest.
4. Like I mentioned before, I will let Sundays be sabbath days.
So, I am feeling really good about all of this! Empowered by what looks like a good schedule, I think I may succeed in managing my busy life well while maintaining momentum on my research!
5 years ago