I’ve been stupid busy.
I started back to school, working on a project management certification. The Project Management Professional certification is a professional certification that consists of logging a certain number of project management hours, taking a specified number of continuing education credits and passing a very expensive exam.
The cost of the continuing education classes are reasonable, but the cost of taking the PMP exam is sufficiently high that I better pass the first time.
The class I’m taking is a test prep course that counts toward the continuing education requirements. Right before I started the class I (rather cockily, in retrospect) penciled in a blog post topic on my calendar: Back to School/Time Management for Adults.
The plan was to dispense encouragement and sage wisdom on how to balance work and family time while still getting the required lessons, reading, and homework done. My (slightly premature) plan was to write an epic, life changing post from the standpoint of someone who has all their shit together and could help you get your shit together if you just follow my simple (not-yet-written) bullet points.
Then the first day of class came and I realized something: I forgot how to do all of this.
I forgot how to study. I forgot how to take notes. I forgot how to break up the classwork into do-able chunks. I forgot how to find time in my day to get everything done.
I. Forgot. Everything.
The first week was like those videos of the ice bucket challenge. A semi sneak attack ending with a bucket of freezing water thrown over someone’s head who thought they knew what they were getting into, but, man oh man, that water was waaay colder and more voluminous than they thought.
For starters, the book is painfully hard to read. It’s not exactly relax-before-bed material. Anyone who’s peeked inside this dude knows it’s dryer than eating saltines while trekking across the Sahara. It seriously needs some aliens or dragons or a flippin’ magic system. Something.
Second, it took me about a week to realize this wasn’t going to be a just-on-the-weekends gig. I was going to have to dedicate time every day to this class. So, at night, when the kids sat down to do homework I do, too.
Third, going to school while having a family is a lot harder than I remember. Sometimes the kids are noisy or drive me crazy with interruptions. “I need help with math” and “I don’t know how to do *insert task*,” and “I’m hungry!” frequently interrupt my reading about cost/time/scope relationships. The switch in gears just about breaks my brain every time.
And I don’t know about your kids, but mine want to eat every. single. day.
Seriously . . . the expectation level in this house is just too damn high.
My selection of times of day to study are slim. I have:
Waiting until they go to bed is a non-starter for me. I’m no good at staying up late. I fall asleep with the sun. Mornings were nixed as an option because before class started, I set the intention that class wouldn’t interfere with my writing schedule. The class is important to me, but mornings are my time to write, and that’s more important to me. That leaves me with studying on my lunch break and studying after work. Lunchtime is undependable. Some days I can get in a good forty five minutes, other days I’m either too burnt out from the morning or I have to work through lunch. That leaves evenings as the most dependable time to get done whatever it is I need to get done.
Being organized helps. I make a study plan for the week so when I sit down at night I don’t have to think about what it is I need to do. Things don’t always go according to plan, but progress is made, however slow or painful that progress turns out to be.
Even as I’m writing this post I know I have reading to do today. I feel that book lurking in the background, sitting on my desk, judging me for cheating last night with a fantasy novel.
I thought I knew what I was getting into with this class because I’ve done the school/work/family thing before. It’s taken me a while, but now I remember the two main principles that got me through college:
One. Suck it up, buttercup.
Two. Hang on. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride.