Scheduling as a Means of Self-Care


By: Michelle McKinney, Reference & Web Services Librarian, University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College Library

Discovering Self-Care

I never gave much thought to the concept of self-care until I became a mother and found myself being pulled in all directions. I’m notorious for juggling lots of things while running on fumes. This cycle usually ends with me getting sick and being forced to stop and recover. I needed to take care of myself so that I could be at my best when I was needed to help others. The question was when would I find the time to take care of me when I’m so busy taking care of everyone else? I found the answer while drafting my library’s reference desk schedule.

Each semester, I coordinate the calendars of four librarians and three library staff members to ensure someone is available to answer reference questions. This maneuvering of vacation and sick days, meetings and out-of-town conferences made me see my time in a whole new light. As I scheduled, I saw days where I left early or came in late due to sick children or school in-service days; family vacations and holidays spent with family. What I didn’t see were days that were dedicated just for me.

Just For Me

I began making changes. After addressing holidays, doctor’s appointments, and my children’s schedules, I scheduled one or two Just For Me (JFM) vacation days each semester. These vacation days allow me to prioritize myself and spend time doing things I enjoy. It’s important to schedule these prior to the start of the semester because it doesn’t account for the meeting and class requests that start pouring in. Since my husband is at work and my children are in school, I have the day to myself.


Scheduling a JFM day in Outlook



I use these days in a variety of ways, including:

  • Working on overdue home projects or crafts
  • Resting and catching up on sleep
  • Getting my hair done
  • Reading
  • Shopping
  • Watching a movie
  • Having breakfast or lunch with a friend

Litsy post highlighting JFM activities

Workday Workaround

Finding time during the workday may be more practical if you don’t have extra vacation days to use. When I can’t schedule a full JFM day I try to build in time during the day for lunch with a colleague or a quick walk around campus to stretch my legs and enjoy the weather. I’ve also learned to build in ample travel time when I’m driving to/from meetings so that I’m not rushed or dealing with road rage.

As a result of these small scheduling changes, I’ve found that I’m no longer crashing and burning. I’m still as busy as ever at work and home but my JFM days bring me balance.