Seven Jobs + Grad School: How I Managed My Time this Fall

Happy December, everyone!

You may have noticed a shortage of blog posts these past few months...and for that, I sincerely apologize! I could make a million excuses about how busy I was...but that would be of no use to you. So instead, I'm going to turn this into a post about time management tips. 

You may remember my Time Management Tips for Writers post from a few months back. In that post, I discussed how writers often have to balance multiple jobs, plus their writing, in order to make ends meet. However, I didn't truly know how difficult that could be until this past fall. With some new experience behind me, I think it's time for a new post, with some updated tips!
My cheesy motivational mug & planner.

So, this past fall (which I'm defining here as early September through late November), here's what I was doing:

  • Working as a creative-writing teacher at Open Books
  • Writing articles for Halftime Magazine and Yamaha SupportED
  • Coaching the middle-school debate team at Sacred Heart -- which included the formation of a new Illinois league this year, but I won't even go into that. (I'll just say it required some extra work on Saturdays.)
  • Teaching an extracurricular creative-writing class at Sacred Heart
  • Starting my Master's at DePaul, with my first quarter of graduate-level classes
  • Working 20 hours a week in DePaul's Writing Center, tutoring other writers on their essays, papers, etc. This job allowed me to get tuition waivers and pay nothing for my Master's program. (SO worth it!!)
  • Some major editing assignments--with TWO of my clients having their books just about ready for publication!
  • Working on new videos, 48-hour film competitions, and developing new scripts/content with YUP Productions
  • Oh, and sometime at the end of September, I got married.

I knew it was a little crazy to attempt this kind of schedule going into it. And, to be honest, I never intended for all of these things to come at me at once. But not only were all of these things tons of work...they were amazing opportunities! I couldn't let any of them pass me by. So, I decided that I'd just hang on tight and get ready for the craziest fall quarter ever.

Now that I've had a few minutes to breathe, here is my advice to all my fellow writers and entrepreneurs out there:

Welcome Every Opportunity

Me & my new friend Jen representing the Writing Center.
Jen's technically my boss. But we both prefer friend.
As I mentioned in this post, I did not know until August 11 (weirdly enough, the SAME DAY the Furever Home Friends books released) that I was going to be offered a Graduate Assistantship at DePaul. At the time, I wasn't planning to go, because I couldn't afford grad school. However, once I found out I could go FOR FREE, everything changed! 

There were times when I thought to myself, Savy, this is crazy. You have six jobs already AND you're planning a wedding... But the even stronger part of me said, It would be even crazier NOT to take this get an education for FREE! Chances were, that kind of opportunity would never come along again.

So I took it! And guess what--everything I've experienced in grad school has helped me in all other parts of my career! Working at the Writing Center has made me a better editor. My classes have made me a better journalist and teacher. And the time I've spend hanging out at DePaul's business school, and talking to the people there, has made me a better business owner. School is a ton of work--but the opportunities that come with higher education are unmatched!

My point is...when something amazing comes your way, make no excuses! TAKE that opportunity!

Use Multiple Forms of Planning

In my previous time management post, I recommended using Google Calendar. I still love Google Calendar, and it will always be my one true love (when it comes to planning). But sometimes, a physical planner (you know, with paper and pages and stuff) can help when it comes to long-term planning. 

I like having the space to write in the planner about my goals for each month, and then break down those goals by each individual week. Then, I can write about the goals on the pages that break down each day.

I do still prefer Google Calendar for blocking out time, since I can move blocks of time around when I need to--and because my phone will notify me when I need to start doing something, in case I forgot. But I do like the freedom that comes with writing out my overall goals. Plus, I like to make pretty letters.

Motivational Stickers/Mugs/Etc. Can Be Fun!

For way too long, I acted cynical about motivational items to avoid being seen as a "basic bitch." But then I learned that being "basic" can be kind of fun! For example, I bought some motivational stickers to put in my planner. They say things like "You Got This!" I know, it's simple...but sometimes that quick reminder that I got this is all I need to keep going!

In the first picture on this post, you may have seen my Boss Lady mug. It doesn't get tackier than that. But when I'm investing all of this time into running my own business, and filing my sales taxes, and paying the government crazy amounts of money every April, and keeping meticulous spreadsheets like it's going out of style--well, I think I DESERVE to call myself the boss! And if a non-microwavable travel mug from Amazon with a metallic gold lid and a calligraphy font makes you feel like the boss, then get yourself one and drink some coffee!

Read Books by the Experts!

Lately, I've been on a big business self-help books kick. When I'm on the train/bus, or before I fall asleep, it's good to take the time to read advice from the experts who know best. The majority of successful CEOs, inventors, and entrepreneurs out there know what it's like to hustle 24/7. 

As an employee at Open Books, I get a few free books every I've been raiding the Self Help: Business section! So far, my favorite book is The Power of Broke by Daymond John (creator & CEO of the clothing company FUBU). This book speaks to people like me--entrepreneurs with pretty much no money to start with, but ridiculous levels of passion.

Right now I'm also reading POP! by Sam Horn (good marketing advice), The Lean Startup by Eric Ries (good general startup advice), Shark Tales by Barbara Corcoran, and Boss Life by Paul Downs. I'll be sure to write reviews of all of these when I'm done, so everyone can have some more specific recommendations!

Wake Up Early!

There were some days this fall that I couldn't get around it: I had to wake up early. Now, most people who know me know that I LOVE to sleep. While I would say I'm most productive in the mornings, waking up before 7 a.m. makes me super angry. But there were some days when I HAD to wake up at 5:30 in order to get everything done.

On those days, my alarm would go off at 5:30. Then, Chewie would leap out of bed in excitement because, "My humans are awake! Now it's time for them to feed me!" And Tyler would grumble at me, "You'd better not go back to sleep. You already woke me up, and I don't want to hear that alarm go off again in an hour."

So I'd get out of bed, make some coffee (side note: coffee addiction can be a BIG motivator for getting your butt out of bed!), and get started on a long day of work.

...But Don't Forget to SLEEP!

If you have to, schedule sleeping into your Google Calendar so that you don't forget. (The same goes for showering, if you're one of those people like me who often forgets I need to do that.)

But for God's sake, SLEEP! Sleep eight hours a night. Sure, there will be some nights when that's just not possible. But EVERY time you have an opportunity to get enough sleep, GET THAT SLEEP.

Listen to me. If right now there are 7-8 hours left before you have to be up tomorrow...
Do NOT stay up an extra hour because you want to read another motivational book.
Do NOT stay up two extra hours so you can plot out more goals.
Do NOT stay up to get ahead on tomorrow's work.
Do not pass go, do not collect $200,

Or else you will be sick like I am right now.

Find What Motivates YOU

These are all examples of things that motivate ME. But what motivates YOU? You may have to try out a few different things to know for sure! I'm motivated by setting long-term goals. I'm motivated by looking into the future, imagining where I want to be, and breaking down the steps to get there--down to the hour, if I need to. I'm also motivated by silly things like motivational mugs and watching Shark Tank.

What is it that keeps YOU going?

Hope these tips were helpful! Feel free to comment with any questions!
Happy writing!



  1. THE RULE MASTER AKA GOD and The Debate TeamDecember 12, 2017 at 2:33 PM

    Coaching the middle-school debate team at Sacred Heart -- which included the formation of a new Illinois league this year, but I won't even go into that. (I'll just say it required some extra work on Saturdays.) Really. We don't make life that hard for you.

  2. THE RULE MASTER AKA GODDecember 12, 2017 at 2:39 PM

    On a different topic Great choice in tv shows I love shark tank.

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    1. Thank you so much! You are absolutely welcome to share this post! Let me know if you do, and I'll be happy to link to it on my social media as well.

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