Today we further this series, which highlights the benefits of the Type A personality. It’s called “I’m a Penelope and I…” The series will focus on smart, skilled women who are using their inherent Penelope-ness to great advantage in their chosen endeavor.
These are some badass women, my friends. They have a To Do List and they know how to use it!
Our focus is on a young woman who may be more Penelope than even I am. Kendall Shields is just 15-years-old, but she is truly amazing. She’s a devoted student, rocking a heavy academic load. But she’s also training for the Olympics in swimming. In fact, she recently made the Olympic trials, which will take place this June.
Read on to learn about Kendall’s shockingly hard-core schedule and her even MORE hard-core, badass, Penelope ways of achieving her goals. Heck, for me, Kendall is all the #goals.
- Name: Kendall Shields
- Age: 15
- Job: Student/Swimmer
- City/State of Residence: Austin,TX
What does your daily schedule look like?
- On the 4 days a week that I have morning practice, I wake up at 4:47am (I have learned that exact time will get me downstairs at just the right time) and brush my teeth, wash my face, etc. I put on my suit and some warm clothes and head downstairs at 4:54.
- I then grab a bite to eat and put together my stuff for practice. We normally leave the house around 5:05 and I catch up on my sleep on the way there (about a 30 minute drive).
- I swim from 5:45 to 7:15 and then wash my hair, change, and head home.
- Most days, I will take AP World History notes in the car because I almost always have some to do, and I can accomplish a lot during the 30-minute drive.
- Once I get home, I will either go back to sleep for a little bit or do some homework.
- At around 8:30, I get ready for school (which guiltily takes me around 40 minutes), and then I go downstairs for one of my amazing gourmet breakfasts made by my mother.
- At 9:40, I leave for school.
- From 10:00-3:45 I’m at school, sitting in three hour and a half classes a day and lunch around 12:30.
- Once the 3:45 bell has rung, my best friend Renee and I run out to the car get to practice #2.
- I’ll have a little snack on the drive over and then do some more homework as we sit in the awful Austin traffic.
- On Tuesdays and Thursdays I have dryland conditioning (think Crossfit for swimmers) which starts at 4:45 and then we swim from 5:30-7:30. Mondays and Wednesdays we only swim 5:00-7:00, and Fridays I only have morning workout.
- After my night practice, we drive home one last time, where some more homework is done.
- Then I eat dinner with my family normally around 8:15 and catch up on my weekly shows (Bachelor and Pretty Little Liars are my favorites!).
- From 8:45 to 10:15 I do homework up at my desk. Once I have completed my tasks for the night, I stretch, brush my teeth, wash my face, etc. and am usually in bed around 10:30.
- Then, I go to sleep and do it all over again:).
What “life hacks” do you use to keep yourself motivated?
I have a daily alarm that flashes the two Olympic trial times I have been training for at exactly 4:00p. That is right after school, on my way to practice, so it helps me focus on swimming and have my mind right going into workout.
I have a chalkboard right by my bathroom sink on which I’ve written some motivational sayings, many of them said by my coach. I read it every morning while I brush my teeth and it reminds me what I am working for and the attitude I need to have in order to reach my goals.
I have a log book that contains every workout I’ve done in the past 2 years. Every night after practice, I write down the sets we did, how I felt, how I performed, and some additional stats about the practice. In the short term, it helps me evaluate my performance in the water and reflect on what I did well and what I could have done better. In the long term, I am able to look back on all my workouts for the season and track my progress, mental growth, and recognize areas I can improve in. This tool has really helped me stay focused and treat each practice as an opportunity to improve.
You are the quintessential Penelope. How has your Penelope Personality helped you in your pursuit of this goal?
My Penelope personality has helped me tremendously in my swimming career thus far. Competing at this level, handling academics and having any form of a social life is quite a juggling act.
Being a Penelope has given me the organization tools, commitment, efficiency, and self control that has lead me to my success. Being able to organize my school assignments and all my daily tasks has been key to keeping me both sane and successful.
I determine exactly when I will do certain homework assignments based on when they are due and level of difficulty, therefore ensuring I get everything done and don’t forget a thing. I have very acute time-management skills and will use any chunk of time during the day to get stuff done. For example, we have a 40-minute personal instruction time every day in school where we can socialize, go to tutorials, sleep, or do whatever else a high schooler can imagine. I, however, use that time to my advantage, doing homework or going into my teacher’s classrooms for help.
Another example is my use of the 30 minute drive to swim practice where I do a lot of my homework. Why would I want to worry about something later when I can get it done right now?!
My Penelope personality has also given me the desire to control my life and my pursuits, whether in the pool or at school. For an athlete, especially a swimmer, you are the only one that can make you better. YOU are in charge of working hard, YOU are in charge of eating right, YOU are in charge of getting enough sleep, or keeping your grades up ; at the end of the day, YOU are the one stepping up on the block. Lucky for me, I don’t want to let others control anything in my life because I know I can do it better and in a way that satisfies my needs.
Lastly, I have to have all my ducks in a row – always. That ranges from my color-coded closet, to my hatred of being late, to my, also color-coded, planner. Feeling like I have things under control and in easy reach keeps my busy and crazy life much more manageable and tame.
How do you manage your time? What tools or strategies do you use?
My time-management skills shine the most with my schoolwork. When I come home with an insane amount of worksheets, essays, notes, etc that my teachers pile on top of me, I have developed a method to handle it all.
- I block out my time using my planner or a blank calendar if necessary.
- I figure out how much time each task will take me and I assign it a specific slot.
- I do that homework at that time only and do not worry about the next one until it’s assigned time. Knowing I WILL be able to complete everything on time reduces my stress level exponentially and helps me get everything done.
- In addition, I have a whiteboard in my room where, every Sunday, I write down all my outfits for the week. This saves me the time and stress in the morning, trying to decide what to wear.
- On the weekends, I use the whiteboard as a ToDo list and I write down all the things I need to do that day and cross them off one by one.
- The hard thing I have to accept, being at the level I am at, is that I sometimes have to say no to hanging out with my friends because I have to wake up at 5am the next morning and give 100% in the water. Learning when I can spend my free time having fun and being social, and when I need to either sleep or do homework has been a huge factor in managing my time efficiently.
Most teenagers can’t commit to get up before 11am, how do you commit to this huge goal of Olympic-level swimming?
I commit to my goal solely by my passion for the sport and the vision of my success. I remember why I fell in love with swimming as a little girl and use that as fuel to get up at the crack of dawn.
I also have a clear image in my head of what I want to become and what I don’t want to become – both of which motivate me to work harder even when its tough.
What’s your superpower? Your unfair advantage?
Not procrastinating – I watch most of my friends hold off until the night before the due date to do a project, or decide a few weeks before a big meet to go hard in practice. I am the complete opposite – the sooner I get it done, the sooner I can move on to other things. This mindset helps me in school and in swimming by ridding myself of lurking mental burdens of things I need to do, and never missing a beat.
Paper planner or digital tools? Which ones?
Both – I use a Lily Pulitzer Agenda for my schoolwork and the reminder app on my phone for other daily tasks.
Theme song: In Christ Alone by Passion
Desert Island Meal: As a swimmer, any meal is my favorite – I’m always hungry.
Guilty Pleasure or Vice: Dark chocolate-covered almonds and binge-watching Greys Anatomy.