My goal is to share the lessons I learned and how I managed my time while working a full-time job along with several side jobs and a family. It’s not a one size fits all approach by any means.
I knew when I signed up for the IDOL courses Academy, the time would fly by quickly. But I didn’t realize how much I needed to prioritize my time in the Academy. My schedule was already jammed packed before I started the cohort, and trying to figure out how to fit it all in was a challenge.
I needed to focus on WHY I joined the IDOL courses Academy. For me, it’s to be able to provide for my family in a field where my passion lies and to have a better work/life balance. It’s important to find your reason for making this change. In times of stress, uncertainty, or imposter syndrome, you need to remember WHY you are working so hard. Before starting the cohort in January 2021, I knew I wanted to have a completed portfolio by mid-April 2021 and have an instructional design job by July 1. Having clear, written goals (Yes, I wrote these down and posted them around my home) helped me maintain my focus.
That meant saying no to one side job I enjoyed and cutting back my hours at another job. Instead of working those hours, I spent that time working on creating items for my portfolio and designing my website. I took a personal day off from work once a month to dedicate solely to work on assets for my portfolio and learn new skills.
Dive in and start working! Don’t let perfection stand in your way as you accomplish your goals. Post your assets in the community group and get feedback. Peer feedback can help you reach your goals.
It is easy to feel overwhelmed and not know where to start. Luckily in the last cohort, there was the #DoItMessy challenge. You can begin working and making your portfolio website in the first week! Personally, I loved how each day there was a task I could complete and feel like I accomplished something. While I didn’t finish the challenge within 14 days, it was a wonderful guideline of what areas I needed to focus on during my time in the IDOL courses Academy.
Set a timer and get to work! I regularly set a timer (usually 30 or 45 minutes) on Alexa and didn’t move from my spot until the timer went off. It helps me maintained my focus and I was more likely to stay on task instead of wanting to fold that mountain of laundry or cleaning the kitchen. Some days I only had 30 minutes, some days I had no time to commit to working on IDOL.
Use Google calendar to your advantage. There were several days where I organized my day by my work commitments, errands, family time, and self-care. I assigned each category color and a time frame. I could clearly see what was taking up too much time and where I could cut back so I could focus on my goal – finishing my portfolio by spring break and landing an ID job by July 1. When working on your IDOL goal, think about what exactly you want to work on during that time. Is it updating and revising your resume? Creating an infographic? Writing a course outline? Be specific as possible. It’s very easy to have ID A.D.D.
Everyone’s home life looks a little different. It is easy to compare how others are managing to fit it in and seemingly get so much accomplished. Remember that social media is just the highlight reel.
Focus on what is most important to you and your family. Is it having a meal with your family a few nights a week? Try watching or listening to a mentor session from the IDOL courses Academy while chopping up veggies. Traveling to a sports game? Listen to an instructional design podcast on the way.
Use some of your family time to pause and take a break from all of the hard work you are doing. Like balancing your full-time job, enjoy the moment. Set blocks of time where you put your IDOL work aside. Personally, I noticed when I took time off to be with my son, I came back refreshed and ready to work when I had the time.
Working full time and managing the IDOL courses Academy is no joke! Make sure to take time for yourself. On the days where I had more time to commit to working on instructional design content, I would set a timer, work, then take a 20-minute walk around the neighborhood, and then go back to work. Getting out in the fresh air was a relief and it would really clear my head.
I also purposely had a few scheduled time commitments that were really self-care things for me. Once a week I met with a group of friends on ZOOM to chat and catch up. Another day I had tennis lessons. Those times were non-negotiable for me and allowed me to have some much-needed downtime.
One area I do not skimp on is sleep because I turn into the grumpiest person ever. I know that my best time to work is in the early morning. You could do your best work at night. Whatever the case may be, set an end time and get some rest!
It’s easy to compare yourself to others. Remember that you are doing what you can while managing a lot! Whether you finish 10%, 20%, or 50% of the course in eight weeks, you have already accomplished something by making the first step in your journey.
Written by: Elizabeth Deal
Elizabeth Deal, an IDOL courses Academy Alumni, is an instructional designer. She spent 15 years as an educator before realizing her love of learning could be utilized outside of the traditional classroom setting. In addition to creating training materials for a franchise owner, she has 8 years of experience designing and developing learning materials on an education website. Connect with Elizabeth on LinkedIn and check out her portfolio.