How I Reorganized My Life

It has been a week since I’ve returned from my trip to Helsinki, and I made some positive improvements in my life this week. I can’t tell for sure why these changes would be connected to my trip to Helsinki, but I think they are. Most likely, the reason is that as it usually happens, such trips allow me to look at my life from a distance, to judge better, what’s a real source of stress, and how I can deal with it.

One positive change I made was getting back to my 5 – 5.5 hours of sleep per night. That had been my norm for many years, and I know that even half and how less affects my productivity. However, for about three weeks before ai left for my trip, I would sleep only four hours or less a night, including the weekends. I was telling myself that I do not have an option since I have so much work every day. But the reality was that I could not be productive. So for the whole this week, I’ve followed a simple rule: when my “time to go to bed” rings, I would stop whatever I am doing (maybe finish a sentence or a paragraph first) and proceed with all my before bed to-do list. That helped a big deal because I would wake up at my normal 4-30, not tired, and was way more productive during the day.

The second thing might be questionable for many people but works perfectly for me. I m always saying that my work-life balance is such that my work is my life :). However, for several weeks before my trip, I felt like I can’t do anything besides work if there is still some work to do, and this would last forever. I didn’t like it because it would take away other vital parts of my life, but I didn’t know how to break the cycle.
So what I finally decided was that I switched to one “master” to-do list. I think I am enough big girl to judge how important are different things in my life relative to each other, and I know how to prioritize. And if I feel OK doing some work stuff at 10 PM, because it is important, I should also feel OK to do some non-work stuff at 1 PM, if this is the right time, and the task is high enough in my priority list.

That was a life-changing decision. This week felt like no other. As I like to say, nobody gives me more than 24 hours a day, but I felt like I’ve accomplished a lot this week, and didn’t leave any essential tasks behind.

This Week Started Crazy and Ended the Same Way

It was an incredibly intense week. Each day at work was packed with meetings from 9 to 5, some days covering the lunchtime as well. The two days which I worked from home were even more intense, with my and Mom’s doctors’ appointments and the same amount of work which had to be done.


All my time was work because when you have meetings all day long, you need some time to do the actual work. Oh, and on the top of it I was dealing with the consequences of the loss of my Jumpcloud password, and subsequent reset of my Apple ID, all passwords on the computer, and finally – a disappearance of “My Documents”…

Continue reading “This Week Started Crazy and Ended the Same Way”

Time Management and What’s Not

Recently I’ve been telling everybody that I am busier than ever. And everybody is asking, why, and what I am doing, and why I can’t delegate stuff to other people.

My friends who followed my previous blog are used to my “timing” posts with a detailed description of my day. It’s time to look at what has changed for the past several months.

Yesterday was a very typical day of mine as they recently are. Got up at my usual 4-45 and went to a gym for a relatively quick (45 min) workout.

Audiobook during a 5 minutes walk to the gym, emails, Instagram and Chicago Tribune on iPad while on elliptical, audiobook on the way back.  

WBEZ morning news on the iPhone while in the shower and putting the makeup on. 

Continue reading “Time Management and What’s Not”

An Interesting Week So Far…

Same as “matter does not disappear” one can say that “time does not appear” from thin air. We all have 24 hours any given day, weekday, or weekend, and nobody gives us more than that.

That’s about my wonderful micro-vacation last weekend.
I had a great time in Ann Arbor, but not being at home for a weekend meant that I didn’t do anything around the house and that I didn’t catch up on work, which I also do on weekends.

So since Monday afternoon when I returned, all this bites back :). I am not even trying to separate work and not work, primarily because lots of my activities do not fit in either of the categories. I had tons of emails to reply related to the conference where I am on the talk selection committee, to the September and October meetups, regarding all my volunteering activities, and what’s not.

I hope it will be better next week!

Not My Usual Day, Not My Usual Mood

I am mad about yesterday, and this week in general so here is an unlikely rant of mine. This week Vlad is in Finland, ridiculously precisely at the time when Boris is not. Vlad is flooding his Instagram with the videos of Finnish forests, mushrooms, rowanberries, moonshine, and salmon smoked on the plank.

At the same time, Boris is in Croatia, participating in a workshop which I believe just being an excuse for spending time on the beach :). He is sending me panoramic views of the harbor, the Medieval town and the mountains.

And I did not manage to go to any of four conferences I could go to in late August – September; work is being crazy, and Mom has been difficult. And yesterday I’ve canceled my after-work activity to make sure I am done with one extremely important thing at work and managed to mess up and spent all this time fixing without advancing any further. And on to of that my trainer canceled today’s morning session. 

That’s the day you need to work hard on staying positive and not to yell at people 🙂

About My Stay in Madison

To cover the past two weeks: it was crazy at work. An interesting fact is that it was mostly good stuff. Good things were happening, and some decisions I’ve been waiting for for a long time were finally made and approved. But it was tiresome. When you need to sit at the meetings for 6 to 7 hours every day, and not just “sit,” but actively listen and participate, you are done by the end of the day — so done, as if you worked 16 hours straight.

There was also a lot happening outside work — things related to the December conference in Chicago, which I am heavily involved in. Boris and I were finalizing yet another paper submission. I was trying to make sure my direct report will present our work at another conference, which I am unable to attend. All stuff with my Mom. All things with my volunteering.

And then I took two days off and went to Madison to babysit my granddaughter Nadia. I can’t remember another moment in my life when I would gladly disconnect from my work email, Slack, etc. I checked what was going on a couple of times (literally!), but without any hesitation replied: this can wait till Tuesday.

It still took me some time to relax, but by midday Saturday, when I was leaving, I already felt pretty good.

I returned home to my long weekend to-do list, but I am keeping thinking about everything that happened during this visit, most about my conversations with Anna.
A couple of months ago, I started to write a post about Anna’s and my parenting styles, and then put it aside. I think now I will be able to finish it :).

The Days Are Getting Shorter

The days are getting shorter, which means that by the end of next week I won’t be able to bike before work, also most likely I won’t be able to use our new outdoor gym in the morning – I do not like biking in the dark and wandering around in the dark :).

On Thursday, I was working from home, which allowed me to go to the casual bike ride with the Palatine bike club, and it was the last time this season. I can’t make it to Mike’s Bike shop by 6-30 if I am not working from home. And next week the rides will start 15 minutes earlier, and in another two weeks, they will be starting at 6 PM. But I was so glad I went. Also, that was the first time I took Boris there. I was hoping he will love riding with the group, for the same reason I do – it’s much safer, especially if you have vision issues. So he went with us, and he liked it. Even more, than I thought :). We also stopped at Dairy Queen at the end of the ride for some ice-cream, which added to the right impression, I guess.

But still, working from home these days feels more stressful than in the office, and I thought that I didn’t have time for anything. By now (Saturday night) I feel much better, but I need to figure out how to be not such a slave of schedule.

I Am In The Slow Mode For A Week, And Air Travel Surprises

Boris came on Wednesday, and this will be the last time before October when we are going to see each other in person. As usual, the adjustment from living solo to living together, even temporarily, is hard. This time especially, since I was unusually stressed with all the things going at work and in my professional life in general. I didn’t have time to adjust to the slower pace mentally. Our velocity of living is very different, and each time we are making an effort to reconcile these differences at least for a short time.

From Wednesday to the next Wednesday, I will have no volunteering activities, and I took one day work from home and one and a half days off. We shall see how it goes.

There was one funny thing about his arrival. O’Hare International Airport (ORD) has four terminals: 1,2,3 and 5 (do not ask me why :)). Terminal 5 is international, no matter which airline you take, the passport control and customs are located in Terminal 5. It usually always takes time to get out of it due to the long lines, even if you do not have the checked baggage. With the flight arrival time of 3-45PM, we agreed that I would leave work at about 3 PM. The CTA Blue Line, which goes to ORD is a little bit unpredictable, like the whole CTA in general, so although the stop is very close to my office, it could take from 35 to 50 min to get to ORD. Plus, Terminal 5 is the furthest from the CTA stop, so it’s a separate journey. Plus, the inner airport transit is still under construction, and there are shuttle buses between terminals, which also adds time. With all these calculations in mind, we agreed on the meeting time 3 PM and our usual meeting point. Since we both have vision disabilities, having a default meeting point helps a lot.

That was the first time he had a connection in Dublin, and I was watching the live updates on his flight. BTW, Google always knows what flight I am looking for, so I do not even need to type the number. It showed the arrival time slightly earlier than on the schedule (3-33 PM), and I decided to leave 5 minutes earlier, although we both know that this time does not mean anything. Some airlines report arrival at the point of the aircraft touching the ground, and there can be 10-15 min of cruising afterward.

I was on the CTA when Boris called, and he almost never calls the phone, because it is way more expensive than a video call. I was trying to tell him that I am still on the CTA, but then I’ve realized that he was telling me that he is on Terminal 3. And after he said so, I’ve realized that that’s what arrival information was telling me, but I chose not to believe it :).

After all, it saved us tons of time, because when I arrived, he called me again and said that he was already by the CTA station. But I was curious to find out what happened. Turned out that as he put it, “The US is expanding its borders.” If you ever traveled by air from Canada to the US, you know that the US border control is taking place in the airport in Ottawa or where else your flight starts. So when you are boarding, you are already on the US territory. The same thing happened in Dublin, and he didn’t realize that it was an actual border control, except he was puzzled by the additional security checkpoint. He only looked into his passport when it was announced that the arrival will be in Terminal 3 :). It ended up being very convenient, and now we know why the connection was three hours long!

On Time Management, And When It Can’t Help

I am usually doing great with time management, as all my friends attest. Most of the time I can squizz in three times more activities, that anybody can imagine. And this is not for the record – I love doing everything I am doing. Since I happen not to be Hermione Granger, and nobody gives me a Time-Turner, I have to be creative. But sometimes even my time-management skills are not enough.

And that’s how this week looked like. I feel like it was one long workday. Yes, I did a couple of activities after work. I cooked at the Youth homeless shelter on Monday, I went to the concert at Millennium Park on Wednesday, and I went on a casual bike ride with Palatine Bike Club on Thursday.

It might look enough – for anybody, except me :). Besides, I was so busy at work, that I couldn’t even get out for a short stroll or for an ice-cream. And I didn’t have time to email or chat with my friends. Ad I still have a little bit of work to do over the weekend.

So when my coworkers were asking today – any plans for a weekend? I would reply – to catch up with life! Hopefully, more blog post will follow 🙂

Getting Organized

Good morning to all my long-time followers! Were you ever wondering looking at the pretty pictures of my breakfasts, how in the world do I have time to make them so pretty on the weekday mornings? This mystery is being revealed! To make my mornings relatively rush free and have a good start of the day, I prepare everything the night before!

That’s how my kitchen table looks like before I head upstairs for the night:


My cup and my plate are set on the table, my percolator is filled with water and coffee, ready to be plugged in, my vitamins and supplements are out so that I won’t forget to take them, and also all my food is sitting in the fridge ready to be consumed, I just need to take it out

Yes, I spent some additional time in the evening to pre-arrange everything, but it is worth it, and make my mornings just fabulous!

Oh, and in case you are wondering – the chocolates are in the small glass jar 🙂