Learning Balance

Photo Credit: mikecogh via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: mikecogh

Things have been pretty quiet here on the LeslieLearnsLines blog, despite some recent interest in my list of literary journals that also publish comics. (Welcome, new readers!)

While I’ve been updating my Twitter feed regularly with content relating to education and writing (it’s the best way to get a hold of me!) and will be posting more over at The Gloria Sirens this month, lately most of my extra energy has focused on three manuscripts (in three different genres). One manuscript has already been accepted by a publisher and I’m working on editing it so that it will be ready for a 2016 release. The other two are well in the works and I’m super excited about them, they but aren’t quite ready for unveiling. Hang tight–info is coming soon.

Juggling the manuscripts and my load of 50 to 75 new students every single month and helping plan a massive writers conference and planning a wedding and still finding time to work out regularly and spend time with friends and family has proven to be a challenge. However, it’s an invigorating challenge. The past few weeks are the first time since early graduate school that I am feeling truly productive in terms of engaging with teaching, scholarship, and service while still keeping my sanity. Here’s some of what I’ve been doing to make it all happen:

  • Make personal fitness a priority. Eat healthy every day and work out for at least 45 minutes at least three times a week. (Studies say you need to exercise for an hour every single day to maximize your longevity, so that’s what I’m aiming for.) I’m confident that making time for my health may be the single most important lifestyle change I’ve made, and while it took a few weeks for it to catch, I’m definitely feeling the benefits. More energy, more focus, more drive, more happiness.
  • Schedule time for everything. This seems pretty obvious, but logging everything on a calendar can help you stick to your obligations. Every two weeks I have a standing meeting with the co-writers of one of the second manuscript. We always work on the book at that time, and it has helped us gain a lot of headway. I also schedule time for fun events, appointments with others, and important deadlines on my phone calendar, and keep a giant color-coded calendar in my kitchen to keep me (and my partner) updated on what is happening when.
  • Make procrastination productive. I’ll be the first to admit that I have a Facebook addition. However, I’ve found out how to channel that tired/bored energy into something creative. I’ll still surf social media, but now, instead of engaging in conversation when someone posts something I agree or disagree with, I hang on to that thought and channel it into a piece of creative writing instead. That’s how the first full draft of the third manuscript was written
  • Take a zen approach. Be mindful. Be conscious of your choices and your strategies for completing tasks. Be good to yourself. If you’re not writing, that’s okay. If you are writing, it’s okay if it isn’t a perfect first draft. You don’t have to do everything. It’s okay to say no or separate from commitments if the cost-benefit analysis no longer falls in your favor. Be honest with yourself and what you want. Trust yourself and your work and be patient. It will be okay.

These are just some of the things that I’ve found to work for me as I move past post-MFA burnout and into full-time writing (on top of full-time teaching).

What life-balance tips have worked for you?