14 January 2018 by Lisa Meloncon
As we are all starting again—new year, new term—the perennial questions of how to better plan and organize our lives has started. The new year also brings with it resolutions of trying to shift or change workflows to achieve a specific goal or to create better habits.
The idea of starting again—the do over—is one of the best perks of this job because if you felt like the previous term was all out whack, you have the chance to make changes, change strategies, try something new, and even expand the things that did work.
However, there is no magic solution to planning, and the key is to find the thing that works for YOU. So the most important step is you have to be realistic in working with the schedule you have and within the framework of the boundaries that you’ve set for yourself.
Each term our schedule changes. Even if you’re really super lucky to teach at the same time each term, other commitments in your life are often variable—committees, deadline driven work (e.g., grants, chapters or articles, conference things), schedules of your family, etc. Many of these things have timelines that dictate the “schedule you have.”
The most common mistake that people make is to create their ideal, perfect world schedule and that, unfortunately, is just setting you up for disappointment. We all want to do all the things, which typically leads to trying to push too much stuff into our schedule. Nothing we can do changes the number of hours in the day. Thus, we need to ensure that we’re creating healthy work schedules.
Because here’s me saying the obvious out loud: this job is hard. Having had other jobs, I can attest to the fact that not only is this job hard, it comes with additional sets of stressors that other “normal” jobs don’t necessarily have. For example, much of this job is being told no, which can definitely temper positivity.
The pressures of the job (external and internal) mean that it becomes even more important to celebrate to celebrate our successes—big and small. As you’re planning your term and your year, I want to encourage you to find a way to celebrate your successes. Lots of advice out there on different ways to do this so I’m going to share three that can remind us of all the good things we are actually doing that bring us joy and make us difference:
Got it done list
We are so focused on the to-do list that we often forget what we’ve actually done. Every day or every week, try to make the time to write down ALL the things you got DONE. In this, I promise, you will be amazed.
To be clear, this means all the things big and small. It’s no secret that I’ve struggled a lot lately. Some days or weeks, one of my things to celebrate would be getting up. Some days that’s a damn big win. It can also mean a particularly good class or a great advising meeting or making it through the committee meeting that is not your favorite without saying something stupid. And it means bigger things too such as working on a revision or finishing a big committee report or getting something accepted.
The key is to actually schedule a time, to plan to write a got it done list and take the time to celebrate it.
Create a good things folder
We all have had that moment when a student from a class sends us the message about how impactful the class was or how they’re using the information they learned. You have to save those so create yourself a good things folder or a spot in Evernote or some other electronic place or actual folder where you could put the printed copy.
These come in handy for annual reports and such, but they are material reminders we can turn to when we’ve had a particularly difficult or trying week. This way when you need inspiration you can turn to you “good things” folder and inspire yourself and get a reminder about why we do this job and how fabulous you are.
Share your successes so that your colleagues can celebrate with you. If you’re on twitter, send it out. Go on the Slack channel #celebrateit and let us know. Send a short note to your small group of colleagues.
If it’s a big thing, be certain to tell your chair, your program director (if you have one), and your dean. People are busy and they can’t keep up with everything. And if you truly can’t get over sending that email yourself, you let me know and I’ll do it for you 🙂
Or you can simply say it out loud to those closest to you in a quiet moment at home or in a phone conversation.
So as you’re planning your do over, rather your term, please plan to celebrate you and your accomplishments. I’ll be waiting to celebrate with you.
Wishing you peace, health, and joy