Embrace Your Disruptors… Make Them Work For You

If you are anything like me, disruption to your finely balanced and structured schedule can be challenging to recover from. While a little change in routine, like studying in different locations, can be highly beneficial and easy to appreciate, some disruptions can feel more problematic, like how to manage big changes to our schedules and shifting responsibilities.  Right now I am considering adding a client to my professional workload while enjoying the festive season that admittedly begins a bit early at our house.  For me these big disruptions need some thought to accommodate successfully.

Child with face in birthday cake

Birthdays – fun but disruptive celebrations..

The last two weeks have been more hectic than usual.  It is a bit of a different problem than increased workload, which for some reason feels easier to manage.  Adding several different activities into my routine means something else is going to be disrupted.  Besides sniffling away with a cold for several days we have a house full of visiting friends and family as our annual start to the holiday season begins. It is a lot of fun and we look forward to a two-week long birthday celebration extravaganza that starts with my birthday last Sunday and ends with the American Thanksgiving holiday next week.

In the midst of these revelries, I asked myself what is the best way to embrace the disruptions and make them work for me.  For example, with less time to study I decided to concentrate on writing a few paragraphs about the topics, texts, and authors I am studying, and to collate my notes in their respective binders. I also searched my library’s online catalog and ordered a nice, big stack of secondary texts that will be ready and waiting for my undivided attention several days from now.

After a few weeks of disruptions, settling back into a structured routine can be a challenge too. Settling down again to a strict routine chafes a bit, at least for me.  After being so distracted, it is difficult to know exactly what kind of focus will get me the best results. I decided to change my post disruption study routine to focus on in-depth research instead of my current focus on primary texts.

For me, immediately imposing pre-disruption order is not particularly productive. Long ago, my husband and I discovered that we should schedule a few quiet days at home before returning to work after a family holiday. It is so helpful to get organized at home before plunging back into work-a-day routines.  After our extended birthday party, I am looking forward to a day or two of digital detox, with no phones, computers, pagers, or other intrusions, and maybe an afternoon of hot yoga, a facial or a massage, then a good long snuggle with Jelly Bean.  That should help me clear my head and think about nothing at all for a few hours. After that, I can really concentrate on how these recent disruptions affected my study plans and outcomes, and how to best approach my academic work.

Disruptors are good things, at least according to my treasured Economist Magazine, which annually celebrates disruptors and their effects on our lives.  The Economist’s disruptors are often innovative thinkers who approach problems creatively and differently than they have been approached in the past. The result of their innovative thinking is change to standard methods or use of tools and improved outcomes.  Oh please, let that be me!Innovation, opportunity and improved outcomes are the perfect way to frame my disruptors.

I am going to approach the disruption to my routine in the same spirit.  We have two things that allow us to achieve the results we want: our time and the texts we are studying. My disruptors create the opportunity to evaluate how I will use my time and the texts to best effect. Turning my routine upside down for a few weeks is the perfect opportunity to apply a little disruptor style thinking to my study plan.  And having a plan for my disruptions makes it a lot easier to enjoy the three family birthdays we are celebrating this week.  Embrace your disruptors. Make them work for you. Let me know how you will manage the inevitable disruptions to our best plans and routines.

Caowrites is studying the BA English by distance learning with the University of London International Programmes. She lives in Pittsburgh in the United States.

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