I don't know about y'all, but the time change last week kicked my butt.
I'm really big on routines, so even though we "gained" an hour, the change in routine was hard for me, and I think for a lot of us. This isn't just me being a routine person; circadian and ultradian rhythms are a biological fact. Anyway, I'm definitely on the side of getting rid of daylight savings time. It's just bad science.
That said, sometimes being exhausted can lead to a breakthrough; After waking up at 4:22 a.m. yesterday, I was so tired by the middle of the day that I had to surrender to the fatigue. It forced me to do a bit of contemplation about how I spend my time and the things that I can control. I remembered an article that a social media friend had posted online with tips from Adam Grant on starting a to-don't list.
I wrote last week about my scrum board, and how I use it to prioritize projects. It includes an entire "TO DO" section which is already filling up with ideas. Sounds good, right? Maybe not. Grant says, "To-do lists are the human equivalent of a hamster wheel."
Grant identifies four things we should put on our to-don't lists.
I don't invest any time in online games, though now I'm kind of thinking about it. I'm much more likely to overextend myself in my work life. I'm pretty good at setting work aside in the evenings and most of the weekends, in order to spend time with my family, but I could certainly use some improvement here.
Points #1 and #2 are two things that I can definitely work on, and oh, what the hell, I'm going to add a "TO-DON'T" section to my scrum board.
Here are a few other TO-DON'Ts of mine:
Don't be afraid of resting. Don't be afraid that if you rest, you'll never start again. Everyone needs to rest. Rest doesn't stop you from doing what you love, it helps you stay active in the long run. Play chess, not checkers.
Don't try to do it all yesterday. Life is short, yes, but it's also very long. You've got time.
Don't worry so much about disappointing people, because as Seuss said, those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind. I was working on a team project last week, and realized we'd been trying to do too much in too little time. I spoke up, and guess what, everyone else was feeling the same way. Don't assume that speaking the truth will anger people; it might just do the opposite.
What's on your to-don't list?
I had to take a sick day yesterday, like a real one where you stay in bed and watch an 80s movie and try not to think about all the work that you have to do. I am fully remote in my work, which makes sick days particularly challenging, because my home office is twenty feet away from my bed, beckoning to me to come do all the work.
I feel better today, and I'm really grateful for that. I'm working on never taking these good days for granted. I noticed, though, that when I sat down to look over my schedule this morning, I was in attack mode.
My rationale was that since I didn't work much yesterday, I needed to work twice as hard today. Isn't that funny that this was my first instinct? Because when you think of it, doesn't it make more sense to take it slow today, since my body is still likely trying to return to its balance point? I took a breath, and let go of attack mode. I decided to move at a steady, sustainable pace instead. So far, so good.
I'm realizing that after a gorgeous break this summer, where I spent an inordinate amount of time in a hammock, I came back to work in August like this guy:
I think we talk a lot about getting burned out in jobs we hate, but not nearly enough about how doing work we love, with people we love, also requires us to set healthy boundaries for ourselves. That's been true for me, at least. I love the work I'm doing, and I want to do more. Which is a good problem to have, as they say, but if I don't take time out for rest and relaxation, it won't be sustainable.
Sustainable work: slow and steady. I want to learn more about that, write more about that, and find others who are having that conversation.
As I was writing this post, I saw a professor post on Twitter about taking a sick day, and felt a little less alone. Higher education, in general, can be a tough space to share our human frailties. Writing this feels weird and vulnerable, and I came THIS CLOSE to stopping myself, and writing something confident and bold and focused and strong instead.
But I want to hear from more people in higher education about the art and science of being human, and I've learned that if you want to see more of something in the world, you have to be willing to start with yourself.
I posted about goal setting, time management, and planning on Sunday night. I have a plan to do more work in that space, as I love talking to people about those topics, sharing what I know, and learning from them. The past couple of days have been a reminder for me that always, always, within that conversation about working toward our goals, we need to remember our bodies and spirits, instead of just focusing on where our minds want to go.
I write about higher education.