A few weeks ago – in fact, the last time Lou and I got to hang out with Much-Missed Pippa who has moved to Birmingham – I was lamenting about my general lack of time to do anything interesting and confessing to my own insecurities about my ability to fit everything I need to do into a reasonable schedule.
Louisa is a very smart woman and thus immediately instructed me to make a list of everything I have signed up to do until December, which is when I leave London for a month-long honeymoon (note: there was no suggesting involved, just instruction).
So I jotted down things like ‘my thesis’, the four classes I’ve been hired to teach, the award programme I’m running, the seminar series I’m co-organising, etc. Then I added the conference paper I need to finish writing, the German lessons I’ve started, Loummsy business and freelancing. To those I also added the boring stuff: ‘cleaning’, ‘shopping’ and ‘admin’. And then I worked out how many hours I needed for each thing — including travel and prep time.
Initially this worked out at 75 hours a week — FIFTEEN HOURS PER DAY if I was going to allow myself a weekend. Ouch! I know there are people out there who have longer days, and I also know that I often do work from 15 minutes into breakfast until I pass out in bed, but it is NOT healthy. I have friends! I have a husband! I have two adorable cats! I want to be able to spend time with them. Hell, I want to be able to have time for lunch! What I wanted more than anything is a schedule that wasn’t going to kill me.
Thus I devised a plan. A cunning plan, if you will. To explain it, you must allow me a brief diversion: I used to be a dedicated yoga fiend and yoga’d regularly during my undergrad (daily in the third year of it), and then I moved to London and there was no place to do yoga at home and the classes were too expensive and thus began a yoga hiatus of 6 years and 8 months (not that I was counting or anything).
Back in January I restarted the practice and my productivity, my concentration levels — my sanity — skyrocketed. I can’t imagine why I ever allowed myself to give it up for so long. Thus, my cunning plan to organise my life into a pattern that was not going to kill me pivots on one thing: arranging my entire working life around my yoga classes.
Thus I set about going over my schedule, day by day, hour by hour, until I came up with a schedule that wasn’t just manageable but completely workable. The cunning nature of this cunning plan is more than I ever thought possible. Aside from mandating 5 and a half hours per week be spent tying myself in knots to help unknot the kinks in my brain after a long day’s hard work (and fitting in meal times), it also helped me reconfigure things enough to average out a much more amenable 11-hour average and far less scary than when I started out!