I got the idea for this post after listening to the Bad on Paper Podcast, and I happened to stumble upon a related BBC article regarding time management/how much is on your plate. I thought it would be a fun new take on how to keep going even when it seems like there is no end in sight. Ironically, just like my post yesterday, I did suffer a little bit of burnout between conceiving this post and actually writing it, but fortunately it was only minimal. There are a few things that I do to keep myself going.
- Make a to-do list every day. I always try (I do not always succeed) to make a list with small specific items rather than large big-picture tasks. Let’s say that you want to finish writing a paper, and you know that you can’t finish writing it all in one day, then putting “write paper” on your to-do list isn’t going to be helpful. Instead “finish writing introduction” or “remove all comments from methods section” are very quantifiable, and smaller items, that could be done in a day.
- Make a list of what I absolutely have to get done and what I want to get done during the week. I think this one is really important, because especially as a graduate student I do have a little freedom to test my own ideas or do some other “fun” things in lab. But, I also have priorities. So, if I can finish all of the things that without a doubt have to get done, then I can work on the other things. It’s also a way that helps me do things that truly make me happy, because let’s face it, work does not always do that.
- Talk things out with someone else. I think this is also very important. In part, it ensures that you’re making work friends. I am very fortunate that I am actual friends with my fellow graduate students, but even if I wasn’t, being able to make a connection over trying to figure out our research highs and lows is very helpful for getting through each day.
Now, this is not an all-inclusive list, nor is it a list that is going to work for everybody. But just as you cannot serve without filling your cup, you are useless to your boss and your company/organization if you are completely burnt out. I think the best way is for you to remember the positive feelings, the affirmation that you receive from a job well done. Don’t have any? Then remember what your goals are, how does this help you reach your goals? What can you do today, tomorrow, next week, next month, to get closer to one or several of your goals?