This is my third year living in post-undergrad, but my first year as a full-time professional and the first time I’ve been the only professional managing my building(s). We are now halfway through the first semester and I have taken some steps to make sure that I can separate from work and get time to myself. It is unlikely that all of these will work for you, but I hope that something here will help you to get more time to relax:
1. Don’t respond to emails/texts/calls after hours.
I find that as soon as I respond late once, my RAs assume I will always respond. I don’t fault them for that assumption, but I also want to get the message across that urgent questions should go through the pro staff on duty and most other questions could wait until the next business day.
2. Keep your apartment as your space (for the most part).
My partner (Kate) and I like to keep our space as our own. We have decided to keep the space closed to general residents, but we do have RAs come over occasionally to have kitten time (we have a 1.5 year old cat). I also plan to have them over for dinner before we close the buildings for breaks. Having that physical separation, despite still being in the building, helps me to feel like I’m not at work when I go home.
3. Plan and prep your meals ahead of time.
We cook for the week’s worth of dinners on Sundays. This drastically cuts down on our daily prep time so we are able to eat as soon as we get hungry after work. It is also nice for us to have that time to prep the meal together over the weekend when we are both less stressed. The only potential downside is that this means that we eat the same entrée for the whole week. I don’t mind this at all, but I know some people would.
4. Take a lunch break!
I was often tempted to work through lunch or take a shortened lunch in grad school if I was in the middle of something. This never allowed me to get the rest time and brain break that I needed. Luckily my colleagues at Ithaca College and I get lunch together every day. Unless I have another commitment I join them for lunch and I really enjoy this casual opportunity for bonding with colleagues. We talk about work sometimes, but I always take that time to refresh.
5. Work after hours when you genuinely need to.
I don’t think it’s possible to always work a normal workweek. Deadlines come up, training takes over for a week or two, the duty phone rings, and RA selection interviews take place at night. I try to embrace when this needs to happen and get my work done, and then go back to my regular schedule as soon as I can. FLSA will probably play a role in how this will work for you moving forward.
6. Limit how many events or programs you attend.
As I’m sure is true for many of you, my RAs plan events constantly – there are often several happening each week. At this point I mostly just attend building-wide events, allowing the RAs to truly have control over their own floor events. This frees me up at night to have personal time.
7. Plan a “me time” or date night.
Kate and I wanted to have a weekly weekday date night, so we picked Tuesdays because it’s 50% off popcorn at the local movie theater. We leave campus, eat at a new restaurant, and then go see a movie – almost every week. This is a great excuse to get off campus and also a night I know I won’t get sucked into work. I try to make few exceptions for this standing night as I am committed to my relationship as well as my job.
8. Engage with the community by attending free on- or off-campus events.
The other RDs and I like to engage with the campus community, especially with so many events going on and so many talented students. I recently attending a free a capella concert and had a blast supporting an RA doing what she loves! While this is not really separating from work, it was a great way to get out and have fun on a Friday night.
9. Enjoy the time you have with your students and RAs :)
Living in is so fun because you get to see students in all their many iterations. Enjoy this time as a way to get to know your students as humans!
How do you make time for yourself? Share your thoughts here or tweet @jshap722!
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