I’m a person that is used to doing six or fourteen things at once. I had an undergraduate semester where I took 27 credits hours. For two years I was President of three clubs. When I was an RA I skipped class to help a suicidal resident. I graduated cum laude instead of summa cum laude for a reason. I was too busy doing some weeks to perfect assignments. I regret nothing, because I was still learning.
But here I am now a graduate student. I submitted my final assignment yesterday, so my first semester is officially over. I took six credits while I spent the summer working and it was a comfortable semester. Now that summer is done, I need to start planning for Fall. Do I continue in my default juggling state, or do I pace myself? Rabbit or turtle? I need pie to help sort this out.
In March of my junior year I attended my university’s alternative spring break in Washington, DC. It was an incredible experience. One of the moments I’ve kept with me since happened in a break out evening session post-volunteering. We were instructed to make a list of everythingthat we do and how many hours each activity took up of our week. The point of the exercise was to show students that they could find the time to volunteer. I was surprised that with classes, work, clubs, meetings, and scheduled volunteering over a quarter of my time was empty. So, I made a pie chart to plan for now.
Edited Disclaimer: A pie chart is a very simplified approach that isn’t intended to replace a planner or personal calendar. The use of it is just to map out the (general) time in a non-traditional way in order for someone to think about their time differently.
The chart includes my weekly responsibilities during the school year: work time as a GA, time commuting to FSU, class time, recommended homework time per my course load, volunteer time as a SAC for Amnesty, and even sleep (a full 8 hours! Do people really do that?). I’m entering grad school straight out of undergrad, single, no kids, and with a GA position instead of full-time job. My time outlook probably appears very different from some other MLIS students. I even included 15 hours of allotted “mental health time.” That allotment gives me time for favorite TV shows, some leisure reading, and sometimes cooking wonderfully long meals. I may have missed something and things could change, but as it stands, I have 33 empty hours every week.
So, what should I do with it?
Get a part-time job to save money? Volunteer at a local museum to get experience? Take a fourth class? Or should I learn Russian or take up archery?
A part-time job would likely call for twenty hours a week, whereas the other ideas fall along a 5-10 hour range per week. My current plan is to complete my MLIS and certificates in December 2013. The final semester would be 12 credits, six museum internship and six regular classes. In order to achieve this, I would have to do another semester at 12 credits in the upcoming three semesters. Because of this, I am strongly learning toward adding a fourth class to my Fall semester.
To MLIS students or if you could go back to your MLIS days, what would you do with your extra time? As students should we be utilizing the extra time to supplement our study, or to balance life out? Anyone out there that wants to throw in their two cents of advice?