Archives for the month of: June, 2015

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

I heard this Albert Einstein quote a few years ago and it really stuck with me. I’ve often found myself trapped in the mindset that if I do the same thing again, but try a little harder, the results might be different. Time and time again, the results are exactly the same and I was left feeling incredibly disappointed. Sunday is my worst day of the week for this type of disappointment.

On Sunday evenings I try to sit down and write an article. Mentally, the task is nearly impossible. I’m tired from having an incredibly busy day and by the time I get to the computer my mind just wants to check out. Instead of writing, I find myself reading webcomics, visiting social media, watching online videos, or I just put my head down and sleep. The struggle to procrastinate and to be productive is not unlike two titans locked in hand-to-hand combat, wrestling for supremacy. Ultimately, I settle on a cycle of sleep, waking, writing, sleeping again and writing for a few hours. When I finally get to my article, it’s roughly 5 in the morning and I don’t finish until around 8 or 9. I retire to bed for two or three hours, wake up, and Mondays are off to a rough start. Something had to give.

I finally had enough of this constant struggle and on Sunday I decided to experiment by making some changes. If my mind refused to do anything productive in the evenings, that would be fine. Additionally, I would no longer fight the urge to sleep around 10PM. I sat down at the computer around 8 as usual, but I allowed myself to relax. The only official business I had to do was create an outline for my article. Before bed I set my alarm to buzz at 5AM, slept and began my experiment. If I did most of my writing on Mondays at 5AM, it made perfect sense to wake up at that time.

The results were amazing! I finished my article on time, and when I submitted the first draft there was no need to return to bed. I was productive for the rest of the day and my normal grumpy Monday attitude was gone. When I left for my night job, I got through the entire evening without struggling for extra caffeine. Unsurprisingly, Einstein was right. Doing the same thing over again and expecting different results is insanity. Trying something new and seeing it succeed is a fantastic feeling.

The Sleeping Geek Kitten by Nathanael Valero on Flickr

The Sleeping Geek Kitten by Nathanael Valero on Flickr

Yesterday was a long day. We’ve all had them–those days that drag on and feel like two or three days squashed together. Not only was I feeling unmotivated, but also exhausted. How does someone get out of this rut? I just wanted to hop on the train home, put my pajamas on, and sit in front of the TV. I’m not even a big TV watcher, but for awhile I didn’t want to think! How did I overcome this insane urge, you ask?

Later in the morning, I got up and took a walk down to the bagel shop in my building for a cup of coffee. It wasn’t a very long walk, but it got me out of my seat and focused on something else other than my computer screen. I could feel my eyes starting to cross and I knew it was time to look away for a bit.

Later on, I took a brief walk around the block. I can’t stress this enough: If at all possible, look away from your computer monitor and stretch your legs a couple times over the course of your day! Staring at one area for eight hours a day will drive anyone to distraction (not to mention that you have to focus your eyes so they don’t go all blurry). During my lunch hour, I read. I’m reading a novel that I’m really enjoying, and it gave me a much-needed rest and a jolt to keep on working. Do what will calm you and keep you focused.

We all have those days when we feel like they’ll never end and we’ll never get anything accomplished, but they do pass. I tend to experience  on a Monday, when I’m sad the weekend is over and I have to get back into work-mode. You’ll get through it!

How do you stay motivated and focused throughout a tough day?

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First, a huge thank you to MaryKate for the warm introduction and kind words! She has made me feel welcome on Unveil Your Brilliance a thousand times over.

Balancing my work life and my personal life has recently been a challenge.

Lately, I have been reading a lot of articles about successful freelancers and the self-employed. I love reading these types of stories because they’re uplifting and serve as a source of inspiration. The idea of not having to get up early, fight morning traffic, and punch a timecard sounded wonderful. If people have successful careers that bring them happiness and fulfillment, surely I could achieve a similar type of success. What you don’t always hear about is how hard a person may have to work to maintain that success. When does passion and the drive for work turn into a never-ending chore and full-on anxiety? Where does one draw the line between work and relaxation when they first begin their career? As I made the transition to freelance work, I discovered that getting away from work isn’t as simple as punching out for the day.

I would be in a constant rush to read about an assignment, or I would fret about how well I was performing my daily tasks. Even when I was supposed to be away from work, I worried about work. Work-related anxiety was not healthy. Then I came across articles that discussed the importance of a good work-life balance. I wasn’t actively searching for them, but boy did they speak to me! I realized just because my work was now connected to my home and I didn’t have set hours, I was not obligated to constantly stay plugged in. It was okay to say no at times and save less important assignments for another day. If I needed to take a 15-minute break to do nothing, it should not be a problem. It is important to dedicate a day or two away from work for family and friends. The reward for learning to unplug from work is the ability to return to work with more focus and clarity.

I can’t say I’ve come close to mastering my work-life balance, but I’m starting learn what my boundaries are and the importance of keeping a flexible schedule. Adjusting to career changes doesn’t happen overnight. As long as I striving to do better and understand there will be setbacks, I’ll eventually achieve success as a freelancer.

How have you overcome your own issues with balancing work and your personal life?

"Work in Progress" by Justin See of Flickr

“Work in Progress” by Justin See of Flickr

First, let me welcome Angela to Unveil Your Brilliance :). I’m happy to be working on this blog with another enthusiastic writer who has her own story to share. Reading about Angela’s background reminded me of my own struggles after graduation–I was eking out a meager amount of money doing various projects for different people, but I was so focused on what I thought I should be doing that I wasn’t paying enough attention to what I was actually doing. I know we’ve all been there–you graduate with big dreams and then you realize that it’s a little harder than you thought to start on the path to achieve those dreams. What struck me most about Angela’s journey is that she stayed true to her passions–animation, video games, technology and, of course, writing–by maintaining a blog dedicated to these interests with some friends. She never gave up on writing about what she loved just because she had two part-time jobs. I admire that because sometimes I just wanted to give up completely on writing out of frustration, exhaustion, or a combination of both.

Luckily, I didn’t give up on writing because I was given the opportunity to work with Karen on various projects. I believe Karen has been a sort of mentor to me during these past few years that I’ve worked for and with her. Having a mentor, or even just someone whose opinion you value and trust, is so important. I know I sometimes felt as though I was stumbling blindly through the world when I graduated–here I was, a young woman fresh out of school, with very little real-world experience, who had absolutely no idea how to get started doing anything. Working on different projects for Karen allowed me to continue writing and open my mind up to new experiences; I think that if I hadn’t had those different experiences, I would be a completely different person now.

So, thank you, Karen, for your mentorship :). And again, welcome to Angela!!

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