Archives for the month of: January, 2016

It was quite a weekend for much of the East Coast! I hope snow aficionados were pleased with the totals Winter Storm Jonas left in our wake. I also hope everyone stayed warm and safe. Personally, I ceased to be a fan of snow when I reached adulthood. There is always a lot of shoveling and driving on slick roads isn’t much fun. Big snow storms are also problematic for another reason– they tend to throw a wrench in your plans. It is one thing taking the day off from work because it is too dangerous to travel; it is another when your weekend doesn’t go as planned.

 

Case in point, my work schedule for the week is slightly off, which puts a dent in the plans of others. The best example would be my writing. After some experimentation and meeting new challenges, I finally hit a stride that may work for me in the long run. For some types of writing I need a decent lead time. The time may be a couple of days, or a couple of hours before a deadline. I need more time for topics outside of my comfort zone. Not because it takes me days to write an article, but the extra time allows me explore my creativity and to tighten up my writing. I have come to learn I’m not the type of writer who can churn out quality work on the fly. I’m not sure if I will ever be (outside of very short articles) and I’m okay with that realization.

 

My work week is off because all of the tasks I would have done on Sunday have been pushed into the week, thanks to the storm. I am running the risk of not getting my article notes completed in time, which in turn may cut into my lead time. When such events come up, I can only think to keep going. After all, a world without delays certainly does not exist. I have also learned if you work hard enough, delays can sometimes be turned around and work out for the best.

 

How have events beyond your control altered your plans and how did you cope?

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My sad attempt to shovel snow on the morning of the winter storm

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I hope all you readers out there had a nice weekend! And I hope for some of you that it was a long one (it was for me!). I came back to work today feeling plenty anxious, but also well-rested and ready to tackle the day and the tasks that had built up over the weekend. This did not occur without some preparation and work, though!

On Sunday nights (or, in this case, Monday night :)) I tend to get a bit down and stressed out about the coming week (it’s hard to let go of a good weekend!). I try to prepare myself for jumping into a new work week, but sometimes that doesn’t work and I’m stuck in a bit of a ditch on Sundays. Yesterday, though, I actively tried to avoid those pitfalls by doing the following:

1. I absolutely refused to think about work (and obsess over my to-do list and worry about whether that deadline will be met and….).
2. I tried to take care of myself by eating a good dinner and going to bed at a reasonable time.
3. When I woke up this morning, I refused to think about work again while I got ready to leave.
4. I found myself becoming stressed when I opened my emails this morning and I had to stop myself, mentally, and make myself relax before moving on.
5. I began working right away instead of putting off tasks (even more difficult ones) for later.

This doesn’t sound like much, but I can’t tell you how much it helped. Sure, I still have a few unfinished tasks and emails that need to be answered that are hanging out there in limbo, but I’m feeling much better about handling them. One other important aspect of my morning that I did not include on my list but is just as important as the others: I relied on my manager when I needed help. I had questions that popped up first thing this morning that I knew I couldn’t answer on my own and I made sure I contacted him in order to get those issues resolved.

Work is never finished and I’m never going to feel completely accomplished no matter how much I do, but I already feel much better than I would have if I hadn’t followed those steps I mentioned before. I refused to allow work to take over my home life (even though I tend to over-think and over-analyze everything) and that set me up for a more restful night’s sleep. That, of course, allowed me to come to work ready to go this morning and to tackle difficult jobs and questions with a bit more poise.

Smile, dear readers–even though it’s the beginning of another work week, you have so much to be thankful for :).

sleepingSource.

An amazing thing happened. The holiday hours at my night job were dramatically reduced, but I’ve managed to keep my same sleeping schedule. In other words, I have the option to stay up late or to sleep in, but I’m choosing to stick with the sleeping hours I worked out for myself during the holiday season. With these hours I’m in bed around 11:30 PM and up at 6:30 AM. I have to admit, the temptation to stay up later, or to sleep in can be strong. Fortunately, the payoff from having a disciplined schedule has been worth the effort.

I now find that longer days allow me to accomplish more when I am at home. I no longer scramble at the last minute to finish tasks before heading out to work, unless I decide to take my downtime early. In the same manner, I find myself looking forward to Friday nights, since I do have the option of sleeping later on Saturday mornings. Thinking about it, I’ve not kept such a schedule since high school. In college, I had the ability to set my own schedule, so I opted for classes every other day, sometimes just twice a week. Even when I held several part-jobs, I only worked early mornings three times a week. It was the combination of working for Karen, and the holiday season at UPS that allowed me to find new discipline in terms of consistent sleeping habits. My new schedule is a complete success.

Is everything now perfect in my life? Absolutely not! My sleep schedule is set, but I’m still working on my daytime schedule. Time management via time blocking is still tricky, but I feel as if I’m on the cusp of a breakthrough. More importantly, if others can make time blocking work for them, certainly I can do the same. I never thought I would get my sleep time under control until the thought of sleep deprivation frustrated me. Now I can’t imagine going back to my old sleeping habits. I know time management will work for me. It is just a matter of finding inspiration and that moment where everything clicks into place.

Has an event in your life forced you to come to terms with your own self-discipline? Do you find it harder to stick to good habits when you are only accountable to yourself?

papercamp schedule Matt Biddulph of Flickr

Papercamp Schedule by Matt Biddulph of Flickr

Happy new year to one and all! I hope everyone’s was safe, happy, and fulfilling and I hope going back to work yesterday wasn’t torture :). I didn’t get much sleep on Sunday night because I was thinking about all I had to do at work, but I had a surprisingly productive day.

I got into work and the first thing I did was go through my email inbox and get everything done that only required a quick response or fix. I can’t tell you how much more organized that made me feel. Then, I went through my normal routine until around 11:30. I decided then that I was going to go for a walk–I needed to stretch my legs and I really needed to look at something besides a computer screen for awhile. I didn’t overthink it and I think that was the key. It was freezing yesterday (and still is today), but I was able to walk around inside the train station enough to feel like I did something. I didn’t try to talk myself out of it and come up with excuses, I just did it.

This, my friends, is the secret (I think). Don’t self-sabotage! It gets better: I came home yesterday, made dinner, and stopped myself from grabbing a second helping just because it was there. I checked in with myself: am I full? Yes? Okay! I kept it simple and didn’t argue with myself. Then, I made my lunch for today and went to bed early with a book. No internal dialogue needed, I just did it.

I’m not trying to say that all of a sudden I am an amazing person who has defeated her demons and will now be successful at everything I do (far, far from it). But I felt so good not to argue with myself yesterday and to just do. Ironically, I read an article last night when I came home from work that addresses this issue: This is How Often Women Criticize Themselves Every Day. I can tell you the first thing I said to myself when I read that UK women criticize themselves at least eight times a day: Oh, it’s more than that. How scary is that? Obviously, that popped into my head because of my own personal experience. I really had to sit back and think about that: what am I telling myself every single day that is preventing me from feeling confident and doing great things?

Ladies, gentlemen, everyone: stop that negative voice in its tracks AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! Don’t let it overtake you! It’s so dangerous and I wonder just how much could be accomplished by people if that negativity was shut down. I’m going to do my best today to not let it get to me: I’ll take a walk at lunch, eat healthy, go home and maybe do something that makes me happy. Then, I’ll let myself get some sleep and I’ll do my best to stop the bad thoughts swirling around my brain.

All we can do is try.

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