making decisions

The First Friday

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It's 10 a.m. Friday morning.

It's the end of the first week of 2012 and the first Friday since setting these personal boundaries.  It's a great feeling.  I have several projects to tackle today but I feel refreshed and empowered to make decisions and get things done.

In fact, I felt so much better after setting boundaries for myself this week that I took things one step further - no email after dinner.  It's just so easy to reach for my phone. . .just to see if there's anything there.  I very rarely respond to emails in the evening - I find I have much more clarity for formulating responses in the morning - so really I'm just taking on an extra burden before climbing into bed.  Who needs that?!  I've had two successful nights of not checking my inboxes and I have to tell y'all, I haven't missed it!  It frees up my evenings for conversations, writing, and organizing my thoughts.  And, when I check my accounts in the morning, I feel ready to make those decisions (after all, each email is a decision waiting to be made, is it not?)

Here's to a quiet, productive Friday (2012, I love you already).

P.S.  I wish it looked like this outside today!  Still waiting for snow...

Setting Boundaries

This time last year, I started using TeuxDeux to keep track of my everyday and long-term to-dos. Though I really only use it when I'm at my computer, it helps me keep track of bill payments, emails, and those more involved to-dos that I don't want to include in my daily lists. For day-to-day, week-to-week, and month-to-month planning, however, I hold on to the traditional pen and paper method. I need an agenda that lets me see the whole week at a time, that includes space in the margins for notes and reminders, and that's small enough for me to carry around on a daily basis. For all of these reasons and more I am loving my new Moleskine!

The vertical layout shows a week at a time with monthly views up front for reference. I like that it includes the hours for each day so I can easily keep track of lessons, classes, and meeting schedules. I spent part of yesterday filling in a few recurring things in preparation for the scheduling that will take place over the course of the next few weeks. Choir starts back this week, my Westminster studio starts back next week, classes at the college start the following week, and my Fitchburg studio begins the first week in February.

This semester, I have decided to set more personal boundaries on my time. I will be adhering to my work-from-home Friday rule and I am setting more boundaries for my teaching schedule in both studios. I have classes at the college on Mondays and Wednesdays this semester so my availability for my Fitchburg students will be limited to those days. Thursdays are choir days and I've found it's simply too hectic to shift gears to private lessons in the middle of the afternoon. This limits my Westminster studio availability to Tuesdays (a matter of rescheduling for three students). This schedule feels balanced and manageable when I have boundaries in place. However, it puts me in a difficult position. When I limit my availability, I run the risk of losing students.

For the past year, I've kept Monday evening students despite spending the entire day teaching at the college. I drive home, drop my things, change my clothes, and run back out to teach. I confess that I'm not the best teacher I can be on Mondays at 6 p.m. I never feel 100% up to it. I complain on the way out the door and I check my iPhone every 7 minutes to see how much more time is left in the lesson. It's not that I don't enjoy my Monday student(s) it's that I'm exhausted. I've been out teaching all day, I have quizzes to grade, and my mind is a million other places. Who does that benefit? No one. Why did I do this to myself on a weekly basis last year? Because I thought setting personal boundaries would affect enrollment. It might. But walking into a lesson with anything less than 100% readiness and attentiveness is not the right approach. It's not fair to me and it's not fair to my students.

This year, I want to make more decisions. It begins with balancing my work schedule, setting goals, and sticking to my personal boundaries.