How to schedule for a crisis
Managing Your Stress
Part Three: Embracing Unavoidable Uncertainties
Topic: learning to be flexible
In the first post of the series, I talked about the need for organization. I told you to schedule out your time and always have a plan. I still stand by that advice, but now it’s time to add in a qualifier because, let’s be honest, life is full of surprises.
Last week, a dog bit me while I was running, so I spent my evening at Patient First instead of study for exams. A few months ago, my family had an emergency, and I spent evenings for two weeks at a hospital instead of doing homework. In both of these examples, I was forced to change my schedule and be flexible.
I used to hate, hate, hate when people told me to be flexible (it’s like when you’re upset and someone tells you to calm down). However, as I’ve progressed through college and learned more every year about successfully managing both work time and fun time, I’ve realized that being told to be flexible was good advice.
Life is going to throw something at you. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, I promise that it’s coming. Rather than crashing down and ignoring all of your other responsibilities, you need to learn to work around the crisis and still get things done.
How will you do that? The best way is to make sure that you always leave some wiggle room in your schedule. Your plan for the day shouldn’t be laid out to where there’s no downtime in the mornings or evenings or no breaks between tasks. Moreover, your week should have some nicely sized breaks chunked in there as well. Regardless of an unexpected emergency, your schedule won’t be manageable if you’re constantly working; you need some breaks! And then when you have those breaks and an unexpected emergency does occur, you can move your responsibilities to those blocks of free time.
So if you get in an accident on the way to work and spend all day at a repair shop, the free hours you had planned in the evening might now be for catching up on your work. If you have a family emergency and miss your classes, take your next day without classes (or your next day with only one or two classes) to go talk to your professors about what you missed.
Even if you have free time in your schedule, some unexpected events may require so much time that you still can’t meet all of your responsibilities. Besides letting your professors, bosses and friends know what’s going on, you can still make a plan and try your best to complete your tasks. Drop off the least-important tasks first, and make only one or two of them a priority. This is another way of being flexible because you’re allowing yourself to let some things go.
How will you do that? Well, when I spent evenings for two weeks at a hospital, I stopped doing the readings for my winter class. The readings weren’t essential to me completing the big assignments and projects, so I let them go. The readings just aided in me sounding more knowledgeable during class discussions, but participation/discussion points were worth far less than the big assignments and projects.
I hope that this week’s post helped expand on the posts in part one regarding scheduling and organization. When you learn to be flexible with your schedule, organization becomes much more doable as well.
If you have any other tips to suggest, please, let me know!
How do you handle your schedule when a crisis occurs? Do you freak out or are you able to stay calm?