Work Hard, Save Hard

I’m more than halfway through the busiest month of my year. I plan academic summer programs all year long and all four of them start in July. Most days lately, I wake up as early as I can (it averages at around 6:00a) and get a lot of work done in the morning. I’ve been splitting my time between my office, a work site, and my house (though I’m seriously lacking in time spent at that last location). Some days I’m done with work by closer to 5p and some days it’s more like 10p.

This irregular schedule has me reverting back to some bad habits and I’ve been spending all my ten minutes of free time per day daydreaming about the day I become one of those people who doesn’t let stress lead to unhealthy habits.

But alas, I am me. And I don’t yet have the ability to keep my shit together during times of extreme stress. It’s quite possible I never will either, so I have to become comfortable with the repercussions of a stressful job, from limited sleep to a dirty apartment to a bit of an extra cushion around my belly (does calling it a “cushion” make it sound cuter?).

I experience bursts of energy and excitement. Yesterday, for example, I worked from home. This allowed me to get an extra bit of sleep, go on a morning walk, and start my day off with a little yoga. I spent my lunch break deep cleaning my apartment, then I went grocery shopping at the end of my workday. Meanwhile, on Saturday, I was at my office until 8pm, after which I went to the grocery store and grabbed the first ten carbs I laid my eyes on and hurried home for a 10pm dinner. Balance, people.

In my desperate attempt to find the silver lining in this time of year, I discovered that I haven’t been spending a lot of money compared to the average month. Other than one gift, one Amazon video purchase (I decided it’s finally time to own Keeping The Faith), and an Audible credit, all of my purchases this month have been food. I’m not saying it’s been the best food–I’ve definitely been surviving on a mostly-pasta diet for the last 18 days. In fact, I triple checked all my credit card transactions to make sure I was tracking everything properly. It turns out I’m literally working too much to be spending money. I know. Poor me. I’m gainfully employed and complaining about it.

This is legitimately a silver lining. The silver-est of all the silver linings, in fact. While staying fit and keeping relatively clean home are high on my priority list, the last couple of years have been all about watching the number in my savings account get higher and higher. So, without even trying, I’ve been very kind to my bank account.

Plus, now that I’ve been through this time of year once, I’ll be able to handle it better the next time around (I hope). I’ve found myself exercising less, crying more, prioritizing poorly, and feeling majorly hopeless after realizing I still had weeks of this lifestyle left to go and no energy to get through it. Even with the extra financial savings that has resulted from this busy time, I am still not pleased with the overall effect on my psyche.

Lately, I’ve been craving a more harmonious life. Allow me to explain. I would describe my life as a rollercoaster right now. But what I crave is a lazy river. Since neither is sustainable or realistic, I would settle for Splash Mountain–equal parts relaxing, entertaining, and thrilling. I want to be mindful and intentional. I want to live meaningfully. And I want to do all of this without quitting my day job, so to speak. I don’t know how realistic it is to be all of these things while I work an office job that can, at times, be quite demanding.

Even though my current predicament is emotionally and physically draining, I know I’m not alone. I’m sure most people go through times like this. If you do, let me know how you handle stress and pressure combined with limited free time to spend on your typical self care practices. Let’s get this we’re-all-in-this-together vibe going and help each other get through the hard times.

2 thoughts on “Work Hard, Save Hard

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  1. Oh how I understand how you feel!! There are definitely times that I drive the hour home only to be welcoming back a laptop on my lap until bedtime. I was definitely in a bad state at a certain point in my career, and I found the following things to work for me: wake every morning (even weekends) at 5 am. Walk for up to an hour with my dog and ponder life. Make a hearty breakfast of eggs and pre-chopped veggies I prepared over the weekend. Meal prep on weekends. Go to bed at 9 every night, read a few pages of one of the books on my nightstand. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks on my long commute. Spend time with my family on weekends and make fun plans with friends. I still need to get better about shutting down technology, as I check email on my mobile constantly during waking hours, and spend spare time scrolling insta and reading news headlines. Balance in everything.

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    1. Oh the elusive “balance”!! I love all of those self care practices. I find myself on an afternoon walk nearly every day. And now that my programs are starting to wind down, I am walking a LOT more. It’s the single best way for me to relax every day. Yesterday, I even walked over to the Boulevard in PVD and read a book! Two-in-one relaxation 🙂 I’m sure I’ll find ways to relax in the fall. Not only that, but I’ll need to find more intellectual stimulation! I find that when I’m not thinking/learning/growing, I feel static. I love your advice and really value your commitment to consistency. Hopefully that’s something I can work toward!

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