Wellness, Productivity, Balance for Graduate Students and Beyond

Friday Fun - Real Time WTF Happened This Week

So this week went a little off the rails for me. I had set out my goals, done my planning, and by the time I arrived at Friday morning, I felt anxious and upset about how far I was from that ideal. I thought it might be useful to walk through, in relative real-time, how I re-evaluate and move forward. 

What happened? 

So this week, I was traveling back to Michigan, for a planned visit to family and friends. I expected to be back in Pittsburgh and at my desk sometime Tuesday, and had prepped to be away for that amount of time. I ended up arriving back at home around dinner time on Wednesday after choosing (rightly! would repeat a thousand times over!) to spend more time with a friend. Coupled with post-travel physical exhaustion, and quite a bit of emotional drain for this introvert, the week "feels" shot. But my first step is to make an actual accounting of what I did and didn't finish. Here were my goals, and then how I did: 

  • Write 3 blog posts (counting this one!) 3/3 posts
  • Post regularly on social media - scheduling my tweets and moving Twitter to my phone helped me stay on top of this. 7/7 days
  • Redo testimonial page on website - 0/1
  • Get to inbox zero in personal and professional inboxes - 0/2 
  • 3 cardio workouts - 0/3 workouts
  • Eat regularly, focusing on veggies and whole grains - I'd give this a 5/10
  • Drink water (at least a gallon a day) - 3/7 days 
  • Keep up with planning and morning routine while away - 0/7 mornings 

What patterns do you see? 

In making this list, I realized a few different things about what happened:

  • When pressed for time, I focus on the "outward facing" or "public" deadlines, but do not do anything to support long-term growth.
  • I put my self-care last, which absolutely contributed to the feeling of exhaustion and imbalance that I have. 
  • If things get off schedule, I am more likely to drop everything completely than I am to aim for something in the middle. I tend, despite my best efforts, to be an "all or nothing" thinker, and if I can't hit my first expected task, I don't want to/usually don't do any of them. This makes the first day of the habit or goal the most important. 

What is your plan moving forward? 

  • Actually rest this weekend, amping up the self-care and (trying!) to minimize the guilt. My first instinct is always to work through the weekend to "catch up" but I know that this will only compound my exhaustion. So, I will put out any immediate fires, let people know about new deadlines, and focus on sleep.
  • Chunk big tasks into smaller ones -  work on one or two emails at a time, rather than "DEAL WITH ALL OF THIS AT ONCE." 
  • Move self-care/wellness activities to the morning, so that I have less of a risk of skipping because I feel tired or am in the zone. 
  • Water with straws traveling with me to all locations. 

We all can have weeks where things get off track - but building in the skills to look back, see what happened, learn from it, offer yourself some slack because we're all human, and move forward knowing more is the heart of resilience. And resilience is what gets the work done.