Our awesome link up hosts, Erika and Shay moved their monthly link to today. I just love this fun link up. Here are the topics coming up:
1. Meal Prep: This is number one because it has changed my life (no exaggeration). On Sundays we set aside an hour or so and prep most lunches and at least ingredients for dinners, if not entire dinners (chop veggies, grill chicken etc). It helps me eat better and makes it so as soon as I get home from work, I empty my lunch box and fill it up again for the next day in about 90 seconds. AJ and I eat the same lunches so that makes it super duper easy. I also meal plan throughout the week and do all my grocery shopping on Fridays or Saturdays for the week. Not doing the daily grocery store thing will feel like freedom.
2. To Do Lists: If it's not on paper, it's not happening. I will forget things that aren't written down so I always have a to do list going at school and at home. Some things are "must dos" and others are "nice to dos" but either way, I must organize my thoughts on paper. Post-its are my bestie as well.
3. Multi-task: I need to be careful with this one to make sure I am being present, but I like killing 2 birds with one stone. I watch TV or listen to podcasts when I get ready in the mornings, make dinner, fold laundry. I'm able to watch all my "shows" without zoning out on the couch for hours (I do that a fair amount too).
4. Embrace Mornings: It's amazing what you can accomplish in the early mornings: I used to get to school early--like 6:30 early, in my early days of teaching. Now? No way. But I still love a good early morning chunk of time at school. Sometimes I'll fit my workout for the day in the morning and then it's done! I alternate showering in the morning and at night so sometimes my morning routine can go faster if I've flat ironed my hair the night before. And I always plan 5 days worth of outfits on Sunday for the week and move them to a special area of my closet. It takes all guess work out of getting dressed in the mornings.
5. Say No: This is a biggie. You cannot, I repeat, cannot do it all. Say that ten times each morning and you may start to believe it. Only do what you need to and what you want to. That event at church that looks sorta interesting? Skip it if you're not all in. Scrubbing the kitchen floors? Maybe I can do that tomorrow or even next week. It's ok to say no. You can't pour from an empty cup. I'm still learning this one.
6. Don't Make Hard and Fast Rules: I used to bring home work all the time, then I made a rule that I would "never bring work home." Neither way really worked for me. Sometimes I'll bring home papers to grade or my lesson plan book to plan and some weeks the thought of that makes my stomach turn. It's not all or nothing----some weeks you want to/need to, other weeks you don't. Throwing out the "I never/I always" added a great degree of flexibility in my teaching and in my home life.
7. Put a pause on Email: This one is really hard for me. Nowhere in any teaching contract that I know of does it say "faculty member must be on call 24/7 for parent/student concerns and questions." I have a bad habit of checking my work email 2-3 times each day after I drive away from school in the afternoon. Most of the time it's no big deal and I can reply back quickly and be there for my students and their families. Sometimes checking my email while making dinner stresses me out. I am learning to be better at this and maybe you need to repeat what I tell myself when it comes to "urgent" email issues: A lack of preparation on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine. It's not life or death with the 1st grade book report and an answer is almost never required right this instant. I'm still working on this.
8. Cut Yourself Slack/Give Grace: Some mornings you'll hit snooze one too many times and you'll need to leave the bed unmade and your cereal bowl still at the counter. Some days the perfectly prepped meal in tupperware is just not doing it for you, and you look at your hubby and say "Cafe Rio. With chips and queso." Sometimes you get in your feel good workout and you realize you didn't even ask your husband how his day was. Sometimes you spend an hour after school working on stuff and you still feel unprepared for tomorrow. Sometimes you just need an evening with popcorn and the DVR and zero phone/email time. Sometimes you decide to ditch the gym, bust out of school at 3:30 and hit up Target for some red tag deals. You do you, girlfriend. We are all in this together after all.