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Work, life and family balance: How to study with a lack of sleep

21 June, 2016Gabbi Stopp

Gabbi Stopp is the Head of Employee Share Ownership at ProShare, and is currently studying for a Diploma for Financial Advisors (DipFA®). Gabbi is also a wife, and mother to a three-year-old boy.

In this blog series, Gabbi takes an honest look at what it's like to study, while working and managing family commitments.

Wednesday 4 May 2016

This blog is brought to you largely by decongestant and cough mixture. I have succumbed to what feels like suffocation by snot (sorry for the image!), a seasonal cold headquartered in my sinuses which is affecting my sleep and therefore my ability to function like an effective member of the human race. My darling son seems to have a variant of this but unlike me, seems able to drift off into deep, blissful sleep at the drop of a hat. 

Prior to acquiring this delightful malady, I spent several days in Boston at a work-related conference. As a recently minted marathoner, I was delighted to see Adrianne Haslet-Davis (ballroom dancer and Boston marathon bombing survivor) on the agenda to give the closing keynote speech – and what a speech it was. A big dose of perspective for me and a really grounded and inspiring close to an excellent conference.

I even got a very unexpected upgrade to business class on my flight back – and proceeded to sleep all the way back home to Heathrow. The food was still airline food but I’ve never felt more sprightly after an overnight flight back from the US. My other half and son had a whale of a time in my absence – and I suspect a couple of later-than-usual bedtimes – but it was definitely good to be back home.

The parents among you will understand, and hopefully forgive my current sleep obsession – my apologies to everyone else – but there’s nothing like a messed up sleep pattern (whether the cause of the disruption is a sprawling three-year old or a horrible cold) to make you focus what little energy you have during daylight hours on the things that really matter.

I’ve even invoked my ‘three important things’ trick in order to stop my to-do list (and attendant stress levels) spiralling out of control. It works like this – write down EVERYTHING you have to do this week. Every morning, select just THREE things from the list that you absolutely must get done that day. Focus on those three things relentlessly and just get them DONE – keeping in mind that ‘done’ is better than ‘perfect’. Then start tackling the rest of your list. Works for me – and helps me manage my Type-A reformed perfectionist tendencies, too. 

The Bank Holiday weekend wasn’t the opportunity to get out and road-test my new trainers (Nike Freerun 5.0’s) that I’d hoped it would be – thank you, cold – so instead I diverted my attention to the rather less strenuous joys of DipFA study. At least my studies are progressing, but my marathon time will have to wait.

Read Gabbi's past posts or find out more about DipFA