Work and Stress

Returning to work after a long vacation = not much fun. I thought I liked my job. And maybe I did. Returning to it is a different story. I think that the months of hard work leading up to the vacation wore me out. I was tired of the intense pace of work and never being able to be on top of things. And then after a slow pace over the break, I am not willing to get back into intense-mode.
I also notice that my desire for engagement bounces back and forth. Before the break I sometimes had 4 meetings (or more!) per day. This was too many, but it did keep me engaged and moving forward. Now I have hardly any meetings in the first few days of semester. It’s a welcome relief and open space to breathe and tackle some of the clean-up, read, big-thinking projects. However, after 2 days with hardly any meetings I’m struggling to keep myself motivated. Maybe a couple of meetings here and there help?

Of course, today was also challenging because I had a big unpleasant hard task to tackle. I really didn’t know how to do it, so I kept avoiding it. And avoiding it, and avoiding it, and procrastinating like the master I can be. The end result, typically, was stress (stress produces stress!) and bad feelings about my work discipline. Finally, I managed to draft something to look at later and that was enough to break the cycle. The rest of the afternoon went much better.

Thinking about my work patterns, my desire for a good pace at work, to get things done but also enjoy myself, and to make time during the day (during my non-work periods) to take care of personal responsibilities, here’s what I’d like to do.

1. Take lunch every day for 1 hour, 12 – 1. I’ve been ignoring the clock with the result that I never know how long the break is.

2. Take water breaks – 2 a day would be good – and go refill my water bottle. The nearest fountain is in another building (yes, the fun of my eco-friendly cutting edge building!) so it means down and then up 3 flights. A good excuse to get some exercise AND up my water intake.

3. Get out of my chair every 30 minutes and STRETCH. I actually have a reminder on my calendar that pops up every 30 minutes to remind me to move. Last semester I was so busy I ignored it. This semester, that’s going to change!

4. Start the work day with work. I want to schedule my first activity in the morning to be substantive work on something big. Not email. Once I get going wtih email it’s all over. If I start with 30 minutes of something requiring deep thought, the rest of the day will follow suit.

5. Get out and see people. If I don’t have meetings, then other human interaction is important. Make coffee dates with friends, pop in and say hello, arrange to go for a walk, eat lunch in the lunch room instead of my office.

6. Try and fit in 15 minutes for writing over lunch. First eat lunch; then write; then relax.

That should be enough to improve my quality of life at work and my productivity. And reduce stress, yes. And increase the peace!

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