Regarding Structure

If you told me back in May that I would spend fall 2012 out of school and work, I probably would have wondered what went wrong — if I was repeating 2009’s season of malaise and discouragement.

And yet, I’ve had such fantastic opportunities the last four months or so since I opted not to attend law school. I’ve had the opportunity really work on a number of writing projects, including this blog. I’ve had the opportunity to pursue employment not just for the sake of employment, but as a career. I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with my friends and family here in Maryland after two years away.

Now I have a different set of opportunities. And I’m pretty thrilled about them. But they do change the way my life will work. After all, I’m spending forty hours a week at work. I’m spending another eight hours at school. And ten hours commuting.

By necessity, this changes the way I need to manage my time. Where before life was pretty amorphous, now there are clear boundaries. Which presents another opportunity: for structure.

I’ve always been a fan of structure — and not just the literary kind. My best semesters in college were the ones in which I had just enough commitments to be really productive. There’s a level of schedule, of routine, I think that makes me a better worker, student, and writer.

And now, we’re not talking about the kind of structure that will necessarily end after a semester. We’re talking about the structure of the next two years — possibly longer.

Part of what I like about structure is it forces you to consider how your time will be used on multiple levels. For example, I’ll be spending two hours commuting every day.  I could spend that time listening to music or NPR, but I think I’d prefer to use that time for reading. Well, listening. My plan is to take out a different audiobook from the library every week. That way, although I have less time for leisure reading, I can keep up my commitment to read a certain number of books each year.

(I’m thinking this will be a great opportunity to “read” books I’ve always wanted to read, but never had an opportunity. Especially nonfiction and bestsellers. Recommendations welcome!)

The same can be said for my lunch hour. I can spend that time surfing the web or waiting in line at the cafeteria. Or I can bring my lunch and spend my lunch hour walking. Or reading. Or (hopefully not too often) catching up on classwork.

Basically, I appreciate the fact that my life now puts me in a position to 1) consider what I value and 2) place it within my week. It’s a process I get to undergo now and I think it’s a vital part of being an fully engaged adult.

This does have an impact on the blogs, of course, in that I have less time to write posts. I’ve decided to scale back the output to two posts per blog (this one and The Girl Who Loved Zombies) each week. We’ll see if that works.

What role does routine play for you? How do you manipulate your life’s structure?

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