Groundhog Day Resolutions 2017

Just like that, I blew right past Feb 2nd. Schoolwork and life balance got messy last week, and I got caught up in writing papers and reading for class and practicing for choir and planning my research and…

Well, better late than never, I suppose. This is my third year, and if this resolution system has taught me anything it’s that I can be flexible about post dates to prioritize my health and wellbeing. So, without further ado, the goals:

  1. Practice self-care and express self-compassion: always a priority, and too easy to neglect; maybe some day I won’t need to include it in my resolutions, but for this year, it stays. Activities associated with this are reading and writing poetry, building a meditation practice, maintaining a healthy sleep schedule, and cooking meals ahead to heat-and-eat when I’m busy or low energy. I’ve been using the Pacifica app and the Calm app for the last 3 weeks, and will be trying to keep up with that—so far, they’ve helped me reframe frustrations at home, give my body space for rest during the day, and get to sleep at night.
  2. Ask for support and use my resources: I tend to get wrapped up in my head and anxious about asking for help when I need it. I also struggle to remember that there are resources available to make things manageable for me, both accommodations I am entitled to through the Disability Resource Center on campus, and as a student of the university. This will be especially vital this year, because I am taking 15 credits this term, 17 next term, and then completing original history research and submitting an article for publication in a peer-reviewed journal—lots of knowledge and new experiences coming my way! Things to focus on in this area include asking my faculty mentor for assistance and feedback, emailing professors and teaching fellows with my questions, utilizing faculty office hours, keep in contact with previous professors for research and grad school app support, and study and connect with other students in McNair and my classes.
  3. Build discipline and be creatively strategic: I experience a lot of resistance in completing my work, often starting with perfectionism, stalling from overwhelm, stressing myself into a corner, and then powering through to finish my work at the last second, sleep-deprived and panicky. This is not a healthy, happy, or effective system. I need to find ways to start early, sustain effort, squish my perfectionist urge, and produce work on time. I need to think creatively about problems when they first come up, and not give in to procrastination. Focus areas here are things like creating reward systems, finding or making accountability structures, setting reminders, breaking big things up into small doable chunks, tracking and managing sources/data, and streamlining workflows for timely completion. Lots of weird process stuff that will (hopefully) help prepare me for grad school and the life of an academic researcher.

So, those are my 2017 Resolutions! With luck (and discipline) this year looks to be an amazing and expansive one for me, and I hope these resolutions help me make the most of every opportunity. By the last review of the year, I will be done with my undergrad, have at least one published research article, and will be sending applications into grad schools across (and maybe beyond!) the US.

Some possible tools to help me stay on top of these goals: the 100 Days of Productivity challenge, the Unstuck app (which I still don’t use enough), Zotero, Trello, Evernote, Scrivener, GRE Prep, Dave Seah’s amazing productivity tools, Structured Procrastination, and the studyblr community on Tumblr.

Resolution Review posts should go up on 3 March, 4 April, 5 May, 6 June, 7 July, 8 August, 9 September, 10 October, 11 November, and 12 December, and will show up under the GHDR 2017 tag. If you want to see those as they come out, just click the button under Follow Blog via Email to subscribe!

 

Over to you: what are your resolutions for the year? Do any of mine speak to you? If you don’t formally set resolutions, what are you hoping to achieve this year?

Pre-Planning GHDR 2017—Reflecting on My Resolutions-To-Be

Happy Sunday, everyone. January’s almost over, and that means it’s resolution time! Well, almost: for the 3rd year in a row, I’ll be using Groundhog Day Resolutions to keep myself focused and accountable to my priorities and goals. (You can see all my past Groundhog Day Resolutions posts here.)

For those who don’t know about it, Groundhog Day Resolutions (GHDR) are a system created by Dave Seah to track work done and insights realized in a few focus areas over the course of a year. It’s a great system that helps my ADHD brain a lot, and serves as a good record of effort and discovery. The basics of GHDR are to set 3 focus areas, define them, think about the kind of work that is measurable proof of effort in each area, track tasks done, write reflections and insights, and blog a review each month. Goals are set on Groundhog Day, the 2nd of February, and then a GHDR Review post goes up (ideally) on the 3rd of March, the 4th of April, the 5th of May, and so on, with the last post going out on 12 December.

This means that, in less than a week, I’ll be setting 3 big areas of focus in my life, thinking of actionable items and desired outcomes for each, and posting about it here on the blog. I’ve been percolating a few ideas for focus areas since late December, and now I have to narrow it down to 3. Here’s what I have so far:

  • self-care & self-compassion: this has been on the list the last two years, and will almost definitely stay on this year
  • possible self-care subgoals: build a meditation practice, build healthy habits, read more for fun
  • learning new things: another goal from last year, but it ended up not quite suiting my needs or fulfilling the vision I had for it; if it stays on, it will definitely be overhauled
  • building discipline, aka finish what I start: big things happening in my life this year, starting with McNair and ending  with grad school applications next winter, so this will be an important component of my life this year… but should it be a GHDR? more thought needed
  • ask for help/utilize the resources I have: I have wonderful supportive community and lots of folks willing to help when I need it or who have ideas and resources they could share when I’m stuck, but I’m bad at asking for help when I need it
  • sharing my journey: I’ve been playing with the idea of creating a category here on the site titled ADHD2PhD to collect resources, share my thoughts and process, and create some community around grad school for folks with ADHD; I plan to blog about it a lot this year, and this seemed like a fun little idea
  • creating sustainable communities/creative community building: I’ve been getting more and more reclusive over the last two years, and I have so much on my plate that this won’t likely change much, so I need to think about how to keep in touch with folks, how to support and be supported by community, and how to fit my life into the larger picture; the US is a bit of a mess right now, and that will impact my life and my loved ones, for example, so I need to be ready for that
  • seek collaborations: some of the work I do is all me, but I do love sharing work and collaborating on projects, and I would love to do some small, fun things with other folks this year to decompress

Some of these are a little redundant, and none of them are in their final form yet, obviously, but thinking about it is helping me clarify what I want out of my life and how I want to feel. By this Thursday I will narrow the list and write my first GHDR post of the 2017 cycle. I love the first and last posts of each cycle: the February post is shiny and new, with all the excitement and vision I have for the year, while the December post helps me stop and take stock of all the amazing things I accomplished and the things I learned about myself and the world around me.

But the stuff in between is vitally important, as well. It feels authentic to me, to share my process here; not just the highs, but the lows as well. My moments of failure and struggle are as important a part of who I am as my moments of triumph and strength. By checking in with my resolutions every month, I can recalibrate, figure out what needs to change, and let go of what can’t be carried forward. I can challenge myself and my community to grow. It’s an important time for reflection in my life, and I value it for that. It keeps me real.

I’ve been thinking about what I want my blog to be and do this year. I want to add more posts regularly, and build more community here, to make the blog less about just me and more about other folks. I want to include some guest blog posts, some more resources, and get others involved here. At the same time, GHDR posts are important for me, so they’ll remain an important part of this blog. The rest depends on time and energy—I’m excited to see what this year becomes.

See you Thursday!

 

How about you: do you have a process to keep track of progress and hold yourself accountable to your goals for the year? What works for you?

Groundhog Day 2015 Resolutions: October Check-In

I’m taking 16 credits this term, and the classes are all brilliant, but the workload’s a bit much already. Then, I spent several days helping a friend in crisis, and struggling to both make time to study and support my friend. On top of that, I got a cold last weekend! But I’m keeping on as best I can. I’m trying to stay up on my schoolwork, since I’m in Seattle for the Social Justice Fund dinner; I’m representing Black Lives Matter Portland, as we’re a recent grantee of the organization. Trying to take care of myself and manage my stress, which is the thing I seem to struggle the most with…

(This month’s Groundhog Day Resolution Review is below the cut.)

Continue reading “Groundhog Day 2015 Resolutions: October Check-In”

Another School Term Begins!

The new term started Monday, and I’ve been swamped! I set a really tough schedule for myself this term, and it looks like I’m gonna need every minute of study time I can get.

I have a total of ten books to read in their entirety. Four are by Audre Lorde, including Sister Outsider, The Cancer Journals, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, and Undersong. The rest are for my Memoir Writing class, and include Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy, Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett, The Autobiographer’s Handbook by Jennifer Traig, Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell, Close to the Knives: A Memoir of Disintegration by David Wojnarowicz, and The Chronology of Water: A Memoir by Lidia Yuknavitch.

Here’s a selection of the things I will be using this term to help me be successful:

In addition to full time classes, I have 20 hours of work per week, and 2 weekly debate team practices, in addition to my freelance writing.  Like my post about NaNoWriMo last term, I have a lot on my plate. My health has been pretty good the last couple of weeks; hopefully, I can get ahead on my homework this weekend, and minimise my stress. (I’m also trying to colour more as a means of stress management; check it out.) We’ll see how it goes.

Have a good weekend, folks—and take care of yourselves!

Walking Wounded Towards Winter Term

Finals are over for the term. I was apprehensive—my health problems really derailed me and I ended up struggling to catch up, which was very disappointing; I started out ahead of the assignment schedule for the first couple weeks of term.

Still, these things happen. (Though this is the second fall term in a row where this happened, and I’m trying not to get superstitious about it.) I was lucky to have understanding teachers, and I pulled a B+ and two B- grades, which is not too bad at all—it absolutely could have been worse.

I’m looking forward to having a bit of a break, though I haven’t really been able to rest much, yet. Whenever I have free days in my calendar, they seem to mysteriously fill up.

I often say that I am quintessentially Gemini, and reading over common traits of Gemini, it really does seem to be true: energetic, imaginative, impulsive, restless, independent, creative, stubborn, scattered… I get grand ideas, and then realise that my own expectations are unrealistic. When a project stalls, I burn out spinning my wheels. I juggle more and more commitments, until it’s a constant struggle to keep all of the balls in the air, and I start dropping things.

This fed a lot into my difficulty this term: I had a lot of commitments going into the term, and I tried to maintain them all after I got sick, with varying degrees of success. And when I saw other places I could plug in, and take on even more…

Well, I’ll just say that I’m still learning to say no.

I’ve read about productivity and organisation strategies and self-care tips, and I think I may have to just start scheduling my life to the quarter hour. It’s clear that I can’t keep doing what I’ve been doing, but I have a lot of trouble protecting time for self-care. I want to say yes to everything, and so I take on more than I can handle, and work time spills into personal time, and before I know it I’m completely exhausted and I can’t function for a couple of days.

I feel like a broken record, but I’m still not sure how to move forward taking care of myself better. Maybe I’ll schedule to the minute in Google Calendars, and block off personal time and have alarms to move me through my day or something. But that feels too rigid and robotic. What if I need to change things on the fly?

One of my biggest problems is the length of my commute. It takes me an hour each way to get to campus and back home, and in the mornings there’s nowhere to sit (admittedly, this is less of a problem now that I walk with a cane), and studying crammed up against another commuter is awkward and uncomfortable, and I can’t really concentrate. I don’t study well at home, so I stay late on campus, but then having to travel means I won’t get enough sleep before I have to be up and back on transit. I missed one class twice this term from staying up late to finish work and then sleeping through my alarm and right up to the start of class time. That’s not a huge deal on campus, but with an hour long commute it’s literally impossible to get to class until it’s almost over.

This term, there were a lot of times that I accepted the penalty of not getting work done in order to get enough sleep to function. I sacrificed grades to my health. And it felt painfully cruel to have to pretend I wasn’t dying inside when the non-indictments of Officers Wilson and Pantaleo came in, to go to work and class as though nothing was wrong. It hurt. It still hurts.

For many people, this has been a truly disastrous year. My friends and family have struggled with health, faced the possibility of houselessness, fought to get enough to eat, and so much more. Family loss, environmental disaster, job loss. We are open, raw, exposed. Police violence and public callousness have ground us down, and we have had to push through, pretend that our souls are not bleeding from too many wounds to count. It’s so exhausting.

Finals are past, grades are in, and I have less than three weeks to get my equilibrium back, to patch the holes enough to go on. I’m excited for the classes I picked, but I’ve considered taking a term off—or even dropping out—more than once. I’m just exhausted.

I hope I can build my reserves back up before the start of next term, because I won’t make it through another term like this. My body won’t let me, and I don’t want to.