it’s monday, and many of us are returning to work/school after a lovely hiatus. viral annoyances aside, i really did enjoy having several days off in a row — and i (purposely) did absolutely no work at all! it was rather cleansing; a little dish of sweet sorbet between life’s main courses of work, and uh — more work.
i am headed into what is likely to be a difficult week.
✔ starting at 8 am, i am on 24/7 pager call for the next 177 hours
✔ my grant is DUE on december 8 (which really means submitting by monday)
i have no doubt that the rested state i’m in will not last. but i’m determined not to make myself miserable!
thinking about how i will handle the demands on my plate made me recall a question i received recently via email. one busy college student wrote:
I’m in undergrad right now and have a very demanding schedule and I was wondering if you had any advice on staying on track of my healthy eating habits (esp with snacks) and workout plan. I can’t seem to get to the gym every single day so I try to go every other day, but what about those days when it’s just impossible to get yourself up? I seem to be having more and more of those lately after sitting through exhausting classes. As for eating, I live on campus so I’m pretty much confined to dining hall food (which isn’t great to begin with) in addition to whatever I have in my room.
ahhhh, undergrad! it’s so interesting that while you are likely dealing with a whole array of challenges (papers, tests, social issues), you wrote for tips focusing on healthy eating and working out! i actually think that this makes more sense than it may seem. while they may seem peripheral, i believe them to be an extremely important part of feeling balanced, staying productive, and even enjoying life.
i may sound like an infomercial (can you buy a healthy lifestyle! online? no? not even on cyber monday??!), but i stand by this claim. think about the peppiest, smiling people you know — i would be willing to bet that they are the same ones who start (or end) their days with a run outdoors or a session at the gym. furthermore, think about the most productive and happy times of your life — i would guess they coincide with times you were taking good care of yourself in those realms.
i know that with busy schedules and hectic deadlines it can be hard to fit these things in. but after managing to do so through 80+ hour work weeks (not to mention 30+ hour shifts) during residency, i have to believe that for almost anyone, a basic level of attention to health and self-care is possible.
4 rules for making this happen
✰ make a plan. you KNEW this was coming!
your plan does not have to look like my plan. perhaps it’s a giant free-form scrawl on a white board, or done on virtual post-its on your iPhone. but particularly during times like undergrad when each day can be wildly different, it is absolutely essential to have a game plan for the week designed to meet your goals, whatever they may be.
✰ make your plan REALISTIC ahh, this is KEY. the thing is: plans that are too ambitious will fail. and it feels so much better to meet (or exceed!) realistic expectations than it does to fall short of pie-in-the-sky visions. take the time to actually run through in your head how each day of the week is likely to go. for example, i know that i generally finish mondays completely worn out and overwhelmed (we have a big conference that day and then go to grand rounds which doesn’t end until 6, plus i usually have to work to do afterwards). therefore, it’s not a night when i want to be making lasagna from scratch.
last night’s easy dinner: case in point
✰ do what you need to do in order to follow your plan. and honestly? the most common things you (and i) need to do are to turn off the TV/internet/google reader and get enough sleep (interestingly enough, these two parts go hand in hand!). i am as guilty as anyone of letting the minutes flow by with these little escapes, but in the busiest times, these activities need to be moderated.
✰ take breaks. i struggle with this, but we all need down time! time for relaxation with family and friends, or for a quiet reading session. none of us can sustain a go-go-go pace all of the time — nor should we aim to do so.
besides, when we look back, it’s not the check-boxes that we will remember most . . .
it’s the moments like this.
i hope this helps get some of you motivated this morning — i know i needed a little pep talk! any additions to these 4 rules are welcome!
*i have to say ‘almost’ because i am not sure how those with newborn babies manage to do anything, and because josh did have some weeks where there was absolutely no time for anything other than sleep. but that is why NO ONE is supposed to be working 100+ hours/week . . .
workout: 70 minute run (between 7-8 miles), distance unknown (i need to recalibrate!!)
dinnertime: shown above! leftovers are an integral part of my personal plan for success.
grant countdown: T – 7 days! i will report daily on my progress.