The Secrets Behind My Busy

I don’t love busy. In fact, I hate it.

At this stage of my career, though, and my stage in life- working mom with two small children, busy is a must. I work really hard, though, in making busy not just busy-for-the-flash-of-it, but for the intention and advancement toward personal and family goals. And, truly, for the ultimate satisfaction in each and every endeavor. I have reached a point now that if the endeavor doesn’t feed me, I don’t do it. I don’t have time to waste.

Here’s my approach to busy:

1. Composite Career

So I have been reading this book, One Person/Multiple Careers by Marci Alboher. I am a slasher.

As someone working in the arts, I have always felt the need to have options for what might come next. This was definitely true when performing- my gigs were short-term. This was true in grad school when completing the task at hand was intended to put me on a path for my teaching career. When my career path took unexpected turns, that at times meant assessing my then-current situation with my long-standing goals. At other times, those turns meant being forced to pursue other options. Parenting helped open my eyes to the rest that life has to offer. Arts integration validated my personal interests in other academic pursuits such as writing and has encouraged me to pursue some of those interests professionally as well.

Essentially, I am attempting to live up all of my passions and in doing so, all of my segments of life have improved.

2. Strategies in Layering

In having a composite career, multiple jobs happening simultaneously, I have to be mindful for connections between projects. This is how I tend to choose projects these days. For example, the work that I do with the Michigan Arts Education and Assessment Project, directly relates to my teaching. Although we are currently working on high school assessments, and I teach K-8, I have been able to scale some of the work I have done back for the grades I teach. As such, the planning for my classes is streamlined, in a sense creating less work instead of more. Now, the timing of the work can be challenging but this is a little like pouring water from one glass into another. The volume is simply redistributed.

One of my research projects involves a colleague and our work with students in her classroom. We spend a good amount of time together after school discussing the work, but the research experiences are during the school day.

3. Living Life

I can’t help but work at home. The when and how, though, is strategic. Now, I have to admit I have the greatest life partner in sharing responsibility and caring for all things home. We schedule when either of us can sneak away to get some work completed on the weekends or after the kids go to bed. When we do this, we know we can stop thinking about the work until it is time to focus on it.

4. One of the best gifts my husband has ever given- and gift-giving is one of his super-powers- is a Kindle. He did this after our second child was born and I was up often in the evenings with her. For some reason, I didn’t use it that much. This year, though, I have made up for lost time.

I am the kind of mom, as most are I suspect, that if one of my kids wakes up in the night or yells out, I wake up and stay up even after they’ve rolled over and gone right back to sleep. For a long time this just led me to think and worry about….whatever…. Months ago, I realized I could get library books for my Kindle and a whole new world opened! Now my challenge can be trying to back to sleep since the sheer indulgence of being able to read with a quiet house has been an elusive dream for so long!

4. Living in the Moment

Lastly, I learned this in dance years ago- in fact it might be my most favorite aspect of dancing- BE and BECOME. Living in the moment helps me combat that feeling of never having any “me time”. When I am choosing what I want to do, it is all “me time”. When it doesn’t feel like “me time” any more, I know it is time to make a change.

(Boy, when I put it like that it sounds simple. It hasn’t felt that simple. At any rate, I am glad to have reached this place.)

What are your secrets behind busy?