Hello all. It’s now the end of October, and I’ve been teaching for ten weeks.

As with any major change in life, my teaching job has brought a new schedule, and many new habits, both good and bad. I’ve tried to keep in mind that each decision I make around how I spend my (now precious) free time is really a vote for a habit I will ultimately develop.

One of my biggest priorities has been exercise. I convinced my neighbor, who’s a fitness instructor at our gym, to offer classes three times a week in the mornings. So on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, Mr. ThreeYear and I dutifully head over to the gym at 6:30 and work out for thirty minutes (yes, I drag him there, too).

This was the earliest time the gym offers, and the latest that would work for my schedule. I get home at 7:00 and have just a sliver of time to get myself and the kids ready for school. Little ThreeYear and I both leave at 7:30. He heads over to our neighbor’s house to walk with them to the bus stop, and I drive to school.

I have not yet settled into a running schedule I’m happy with. I run one long run on Sunday mornings and eke out one more run per week if I’m lucky. I’m still working on a more robust running schedule.

Laurie at school teaching

When I get home from school, my inclination is to lie on the couch with a book. There’s way too much to do to always indulge in that inclination, but I find myself, more often than now, passing a large amount of my time lying around, reading.

I have been fairly successful in not bringing my work home with me. My mom, a longtime educator, made this suggestion when I took the job and I thought it was a wise one. I could spend unlimited amounts of time on my job, on prepping and developing quizzes and stories and just improving how I teach. But I also have to give myself space to have a life and be a mom and wife and friend.

I’m grateful I’m efficient. I really can prep, grade, and plan during my planning periods and after-school time. I have also invested in some incredible curricula resources to help me plan. That’s been a great decision.

So I’ve pretty happily left school at school, with just a few check-ins of work email per evening, and only a couple of weekend working sessions.

Teaching is going well. While I’m still developing relationships with my students, they seem to like my teaching style, which is different from previous teachers’. I use a method called Comprehensible Input, where I talk almost exclusively in Spanish and they learn language by acquiring it through exposure, much like the way we acquire our first languages.

There is less emphasis (really, no emphasis) on memorizing grammar and vocabulary. There is a heavy emphasis on repetition and slow, comprehensible speech from me. I’ve been pleased with how much they’re speaking and understanding.

Little ThreeYear testing out his Halloween costume at our town’s downtown trick-or-treat day.

It’s amazing to me how much I get done in a day, whereas last year, I barely got anything done at all. The old adage is true, that busy people get more done. Since my free time is so limited, I can’t waste it and procrastinate. I have to get lunches made or I won’t have anything to eat, and I have to do laundry or I won’t have anything to wear.

Unfortunately I haven’t made writing a priority, so I’ve produced very few posts in the few months I’ve been working.

I want to continue writing regularly, even if it’s on a much-reduced schedule, so I’ve made myself get up a bit earlier on Tuesday and Thursday mornings and type a bit into my computer. I’ve also decided that perfect is the enemy of good enough, and that I need to post, however short/meandering/off-topic said posts are, so get ready for some mediocre stuff.

The idea of posting regularly, regardless of the quality of my content, comes from the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. Clear, a blogger, author, and proficiency expert, is a fan of the idea of inching towards the behavior you’d like to adopt. If you’d like to post in your blog more often, he suggests, commit to the easiest behavior change you can. For example, start by setting your alarm for an earlier wake up time on Tuesdays and Thursdays and just get up when your alarm rings on those two days. Once you’ve mastered getting up earlier, add in going upstairs and sitting at your computer. Just commit to going upstairs and sitting, without even writing. Then, add writing for two minutes to your routine. Eventually, you’ll be so habituated to getting up, sitting in front of your computer, and starting to write, that you’ll naturally write for more and more time. I’m going to try an augmented-version of this in the coming month.

The boys and I at Old Salem, a colonial town in Winston-Salem, NC.

Weekends seem to be filled with so much that I don’t want to cram one more “to-do” task in. I’m getting up, fitting in my only “lounge around time” all week, spending a leisurely morning with the boys, then taking Lucy to the dog park, playing tennis, or taking Junior ThreeYear to swim practice. My brain needs a break, unstructured time.

Am I glad I took this job? Infinitely. The Well-Being Theory lists Meaning and Purpose as one of the five necessary ingredients towards a fulfilling life (the others are positive emotion, engagement, relationships, and accomplishment).

Last year, during my year off, I was diagnosed by my doctor with something akin to malaise, or low-grade dissatisfaction with life. Turns out, I need a fairly defined purpose. While I’m busy and have little time for myself this year, I’m inherently purpose-filled, productive, and content.

So look for more from me in November. Hope your fall is going well!

Author: Laurie

Hi. I'm Laurie, and my family and I have set out to double our net worth and move abroad in the next three years. Join us on our journey!

8 thoughts on “Update”

  1. Congrats on the new job!

    Regarding time habits, I just read the book 12 Week Year and have found it to be great in planning and measuring work/projects with deadlines in mind. With only 12 weeks in the ‘year’, there is no time for procrastination! The trick is sticking with the habit of course…

    On the gym topic, there is no better way to start the day than with a good workout, if time and circumstances allow! I also feel like prioritizing the gym and fitness leaves a lasting and positive impression on our kids. Caroline and I have been focusing on how to get workouts in when we travel, which we’ve ramped up now that our kids are out of the house. I am a runner, so I just always bring my gear and love exploring new places on the run. We joined a gym when we visited Costa Rica for a month recently, which was super rewarding (class instruction in spanish was a bonus!) and she just did a intro trial with Jazzercise (yes they still exist!) while we are in Jacksonville for just 2 weeks.

    Continued good luck with the job!

    1. That’s impressive that you are intent on keeping the exercise up while you travel. I always have good intentions and rotten follow through! πŸ™‚ I do much better with steady routines. I have a friend who does Jazzercise and adores it. I need to borrow the 12 Week Year–I’ve heard great things and actually used the 12-week plan at the beginning of last year, without having read the book. It actually was very effective! Thanks for the reminder to read it and thanks for the kind words!

      1. Hi Laurie, coincidentally I just started Jazzercise now that we’re in Jacksonville, FL more and there’s a studio here. SO much fun — I can see doing this as my regular exercise.
        Unrelated…I would love to contact you about a project I’m working on for Costa Rica FIRE. Can you email me?

  2. I’m glad your new job is working out so well! It’s true that too much unstructured time can be really hard to manage, so it’s great you’ve found a job that lets you use your skills/passions and build more structure into your life. It’s not that life without a job has no purpose, but it can definitely feel that way at times. I’m still figuring this out with my freelancing schedule this fall; I like having some deadlines and work that needs to be completed, but also really treasure the large amount of flexibility I have for my family. It’s a work in progress, I suppose! Happy Halloween!

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