Disclaimer: Apologies to those of you who are not Doctor Who fans. If you have love for British science fiction that runs the gamut of cheesy to OMG!AWESOME! you should check out the latest reboot(s) of Doctor Who. It’s on Netflix and at your local public library.
So my increasingly opinionated, stubborn, and wonderful 2.5 year old daughter is sleeping erratically. Some days she takes her regularly scheduled “epic nap” of 3.5 hours, and other days she doesn’t nap at all. This, my friends, is a big problem. I do ALL OF MY WORK when she sleeps. Her naps equal time. No time means no work. No work means I don’t finish my dissertation. Not finishing means I wasted the past 7.5 years on a caffeine– and whiskey-filled dante-esque descent into madness without payoff. So it’s time to shake up my routine and squeeze more time out of my day, which is not easy when writing a dissertation, taking care of a toddler, and managing my brain so I can keep an even keel through all of it.
The only real remedy to this new time crisis — besides getting my own TARDIS — is to chip some time out of the rest of my day. For many of us, this can seem impossible. So I’ve developed a strategy. I’m not sure how it’s going to pan out, but I have to do something and if you have any further advice, please share.
Here’s my strategy so far:
1. I work one weekend day. My workweek, prior to Nap Breakdown 2012, was pretty regular. Up by 7, at the gym by 9:30, work for a few hours, then spend time with family. My evenings and weekends were free from dissertation work and I felt like I had a pretty good balance. Now that my work time during the week is out of whack, I feel like I’m cheating on my dissertation when I’m doing other stuff. This is not good. It makes me anxious and irritable when I’m not working and hurried and disappointed when I do finally get to work. So the week is now my collecting time for my weekend day. I write when I can, read when I can, and collect enough stuff so my Saturday or Sunday has all of the ingredients for a productive writing day.
2. YMCA Childwatch. I’ve mentioned the YMCA before, but let me just extol it’s virtues here again. I was a member of the Brooklyn Y and their Childwatch program was fantastic. They gave you two hours of free babysitting while you worked out, or, like I did somedays, read quietly in a corner. The Downtown Berkeley YMCA unfortunately charges for their child watch, but it’s still SO worth it! The staff are highly trained, incredibly nice, and there are plenty of them. My kid has a blast every time she goes. Three days a week, I workout, two days a week, I sit on the sofa in the lobby to work. That’s an extra four hours of work in my week, and if the kid actually naps that day, I’m way ahead of the game.
3. Getting up earlier. This is the craziest habit I’m trying to form. Waking up two hours early. That’s right, I’ve been waking up at 5am all week. Now there are a few of you who do this and I used to think you had a metabolic imbalance or you were witches or something. Needless to say: I get it now. Waking up before the world is the best Cheat Code out there. The only problem? Actually getting your ass out of bed. My “Just go back to sleep voice” — who I suspect is my little hater in disguise, is a persistent bastard. “You don’t have to do this,” it says, “You’re so tired. Just sleep a little longer.” So my conscious voice has to scream, “SIT UP! WASH YOUR FACE! HAVE SOME COFFEE!” and it’s worked so far. I feel accomplished before the day starts giving me freedom to not think about my dissertation when doing all of life’s other stuff.
So how do you squeeze more time out of your day?