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planning for success [and avoiding stress]

Posted Aug 10 2012 10:13am

Some people lose weight when they’re stressed. I am not one of them.

If I’m stressed, you can find me at the nearest frozen yogurt shop nursing a two pound cup of goodness. Or maybe you’ll find me on the treadmill in an attempt to avoid stress eating. That’s certainly a better tactic in the long run.

Truth be told, I don’t get stressed easily (or often). But with graduate school right around the corner, I can’t help but think that I may get stressed a bit more than usual.

I’ll be commuting every day (3+ hours round trip), which is completely new territory for me. I am hoping to utilize this time by using public transportation rather than driving.

Three hours isn’t so bad if I can make those hours productive. Driving down the express lanes and/or stuck in traffic? Not productive. Sitting on a bus/train reading research articles and doing homework? Quite productive.

So there’s my first way to avoid unnecessary stress. Take advantage of every minute—especially time spent commuting. I think I will really hone in on my time management skills during this time.

I will also be working as a graduate/research assistant for 22+ hours a week. I also worked while getting my undergraduate degree but I was fortunate enough to have a laid back job where I could do homework/study throughout the day. So it may sound silly, but this job will be new territory for me as well.

Since I’ll be having plenty of super long days, I have definitely thought about where I will fit in my workouts. And it is absolutely imperative that I find time to get them in. Not only does exercise give me energy, but it clears my mind and sharpens my focus as well! All of those exercise benefits? They’re essential for a happy, healthy me. When I lead a healthy lifestyle, I thrive. So healthy I’ll stay.

My solution? Workout clothes. I am going to leave workout clothes under my desk so that I can hop on over to DePaul’s amazing athletic center in my free time. I may be on the treadmill with a research article propped in front of me, but at least I’ll be moving.

So don’t get me wrong here. I am EXTREMELY excited to begin graduate school. Seriously, I cannot wait! I get giddy and excited just thinking about it. I don’t think I’ll mind being super busy because my time will be filled with topics I adore. BUT I also like to plan for success. So I’m going in armed with ideas/ways to continue leading a healthy lifestyle during (what’s sure to be) the busiest time in my life thus far. A good busy, but busy nonetheless.

Which brings me to my next plan—packing lunches. I will definitely be bringing lunch on the daily. Snacks as well. I plan to food prep on Sundays—whipping up big batches of black beans, quinoa, sweet potatoes, roasted veggies, and the like. That way I can just pack and go. Again, proper time management is going to become essential.

Prioritizing is going to be important as well. As I’ll be working at school, graduate school will be my job for the next few years. So at the top of my list of priorities? Family and school [work]. Other things may have to be pushed to the back burner and I am okay with that. I have come to terms with the fact that it’s not humanly possible to “do it all.” In order to succeed, I must keep my focus on the end goal—a PhD and a career I’ll love. Long-term goals are just as important as those in the short-term.

And last, but certainly not least, I will be staying organized. Organization makes my world go round (and keeps my world on it’s axis)—so this is key. My planner (and lists, lots of lists) will be my best friends.

So I think that covers most of my concerns. The thing is, I won’t really know how my days will play out until I begin. Will I have free time during the day? Will it be easy for me to utilize my time commuting? Will I be able to ride the bus each day or will there be days where I’ll need to drive?

Hi, my name is Stefanie and I am a control freak. And a worry wart. Someone just tell me to chill out and go with the flow already.

I cannot wait for this next chapter in my life to begin. But until it does, I’ll continue to wonder, plan, and wonder some more. It’s a human trait—we can’t help but think of what the future will look like.

So much for living in the present, eh?

In a nutshell, my keys for success during super busy times (in no particular order): organization, exercise, clean eats, stellar time management, and plenty of reminders to just take a chill pill and enjoy the present. Time is flying by so fast these days and I want to soak in these next few years without constantly thinking about what’s next. 

Dear busiest time of my life, I am SO ready for you.

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