Saturday, October 2, 2010

Priorities Schmiorities

So I've been struggling the last few weeks.  Some of it came out in my explosion of anger but I haven't really talked about it in-depth here yet.

My struggle is related to time and energy.  I suspect it's a problem that most people have, so I know I'm not special in this regard.  Everyone I know has a lot going on.  Everyone I know takes on too much or finds themselves stretched and stressed more often than not.  What I struggle with is the amount of time and energy that is given to things that aren't the most important things to be done, and then the pressure just builds up.

The last 2 mornings I've woken up with what could only be called stress nightmares.  I'm late for something really important.  I've forgotten something really important.  I'm running around like a crazy woman trying to make it all work.  This morning's was a 'I'm running through an airport trying to not miss my flight but I've left all my baggage in the car which is parked in the middle of a field 2 miles away' dream.  I think my subconscious is trying to tell me something.

To my credit, I've said no to quite a bit lately, including stuff that I really wanted to do.

But at the same time, I know I still have a lot on my plate.  And what should be priorities are getting pushed further and further down the list at the expense of other things that feel immediate but are actually not as important.

Let me say it here:  I am a MASTER of procrastination.  I'm so good at it I don't even realize I do it half of the time.

So, what are the priorities that are getting pushed down the list?

Finishing my Ph.D research

And at the moment, I'm having a harder time prioritizing the research.  This has been my song and dance for 3 years, and now I'm in my final year and I have no more time to keep putting it off.


Don't think that it hasn't occurred to me that perhaps this blog and this life change journey may be - in some ways at least - another attempt to procrastinate on getting my research done.  It is necessary and I'm not going to stop working on losing weight and exercising more, etc.....but it has been a convenient diversion from the task at hand, I must admit.

Dear self, I can't work on that chapter today because I spent 2-3 hours this morning working on my blog post instead.   Hope that's ok.  Jayme

Yeah, not good.

I have a goal to have my case study chapter completed by the end of term (mid-December).  It's do-able.  But also by mid-December I'd also like to have all my other chapters beginning to be drawn together and streamlined into one cohesive document.

So I've got to figure out some structures to help me get my ass in gear.  I need to find places where I can work and be productive and anonymous because I get WAY too distracted working at school or at home.  But I also need to work on my self-discipline as working away from home is just not feasible (or a good use of time) some days. 

So at the risk of being fairly rigid about it at first, here's my time structure and goals for a normal week's work:

Mondays & Fridays:
      7:00am - Wake up, breakfast, feed the dogs, pack my lunch
      7:45am - Sit down to my computer, check email, etc.
      8:00 - 10:30am - Work on research (turn off the internet)
      10:30am - Leave for gym
      11:10am - 12:10 Workout at gym
      12:45pm - Leave for work
      1:00 - 5:00pm - Eat lunch, work
      5:40pm - Get home, make dinner, relax, clean, whatever else
      10:00pm - Time to start getting ready for bed

Tuesday - Thursdays:
       7:00am - wake up, breakfast, feed dogs, pack lunch, ready for work
       8:15am - Leave for work
       9:00am - 1:00pm - Work
       1:00pm - Eat lunch
       1:20pm - Go to gym
       1:30 - 2:30pm - Work out
       2:30pm - Go to anonymous place to work on research
       3:00 - 5:00pm - Work on research
       5:40 - Get home, make dinner, relax, clean, whatever else
       10:00pm - Time to start getting ready for bed

       7:00am - wake up, feed dogs
       7:30 - 8:00am - Yoga
       8:00am - Shower, eat breakfast, and get ready for day
       8:30 - 1:00pm - Work on research (turn off internet)
       1:00 - 1:30pm - Break for lunch
       1:30 - 4:00pm - Work on research (turn off internet)
       4:00pm - Take the rest of the day off!

      7:00am - wake up, feed dogs
      7:30 - 8:00am - Yoga
      8:00am - Shower, eat breakfast, get ready for day
      8:30am - 12:30pm - Work on blog, do internet stuff
      12:30 - 1:00pm - Lunch
      1:00 - 3:00pm - Work on research (turn off internet)
      3:00 - Take rest of the day off!

Total time goals:
Research time:       20 hours
Paid work:              20 hours
Exercise:                  6 hours
Blog time:                 3 hours
The structure of it feels a little daunting right now, but if I leave things flexible (as they have been thus far), I don't get things done.  Something else will take the place of research time or exercise time.  So I know I need to be pretty strict about it, at least for a few weeks until I am able to develop some new habits.

I may also start putting in each week in my weigh-ins how much work I've gotten done on my research as well.  Maybe having to answer to all of you (in addition to my new bi-weekly meetings with my supervisor) will provide the accountability I need.

So, as they say here, watch this space.....


  1. Jayme,
    Thank you for putting yourself out there like this. Be sure you continue to make yourself a priority and stay on the top of that list. I didn't (and still don't) keep myself near the top of the list and my body and mind reminds me of that. I am proud of you. Stay strong. Keep wrestling and don't give up!

  2. Jayme, you're doing great--remember not to be to hard on yourself! If I could offer some advice as someone who's just waking up from the PhD nightmare: you have planned in "down time", which is great, but you've also planned to work on the thesis every single day. I'd really recommend cutting out your research work on Sat or Sun, even if that means scheduling in an extra half or so every other day. I think you're mind will appreciate the break, and you'll be fresher when you get back in.
    Also, I ended up adding a timer to my sidebar (windows vista). I'd set it for 30 minutes and force myself to work that full time, no distractions, then I'd let myself take a little break, and repeat. It helped to break down those big chunks of time into something less daunting.
    Great thinking for scheduling your workout time. And I was just reading that people who workout with their dogs (running/walking/cycling) are far more likely to keep it up long term. So keep training your pup to run with you--for the rest of her active life, you'll never be able to skip a workout without serious consequences :)

  3. my thoughts turn toward hospitality to your body, your dreams. reading it here, i see links between your research and the investment you're putting into your body. i cannot fully articulate what's on the tip of my tongue, but i'll try to do so as i read, listen, and think about your good words & truth telling.

    i'm glad that you're connecting the goals of research and writing as you're pursuing wholeness... all a part of you... heath in research, health in writing, health in what is going into your body and then coming from you and your wholeness...

    still formulating my thoughts...