Is it time to hit the reset button? When we are in unusual circumstances we are forced out of the ‘norm’. And while that can definitely have its downsides, it can also give us an opportunity to reevaluate how we’re doing things.
This moment in time might be the perfect opportunity to evaluate your academic life and hit the reset button on a few things. I am a relentless optimist, and it’s my nature to look for the opportunity in any crisis or negative situation. While our current pandemic crisis has certainly piled on extra work and extra stress, I think it could also give an opportunity to explore how we might step back and change some things for the better.
This month in my Amplify program we’re focusing on mindset and digging into a lot of things that can be reset in this historical moment. But I want to give you, my podcast listeners, a peek into the types of things that can be reset for a fresh start in our academic lives.
Reset Expectations for Email Response Time
Email is the worst. Now more than ever, it’s how extra work arrives. It can feel overwhelming. And you may have been allowing people to use it as a tool to convey time sensitive information, or as a way to get in touch with you at all hours. Now is the time to reset those expectations. Here are some ideas:
- You decide what your turnaround time for email responses will be, but I suggest a 24 hour turnaround time policy.
- Email should not be a medium to convey emergencies or urgent needs.
- Draw boundaries around your work time and family time, and do not allow email to filter in to this time.
- Set aside a scheduled time in your day that you deal with email and don’t do it at any other time! Consider using an email scheduling tool if you want emails to send at specific times.
Reset Your Approach to Your Own Availability
How can you reset boundaries around your daily availability? You may have started out this time at home wanting to support your students and colleagues in any way possible, which is admirable. But! You simply cannot be available to everyone 24/7.
- Choose specific, limited times during your week that you are available to others for meetings, etc. There are calendar scheduling tools you can use that list your available times for people to choose from.
- Make sure you are choosing times that work well for your current schedule, and stick to them! If someone asks you to attend a meeting or take on an issue outside of those times, it’s ok to tell them you are unavailable.
- Think about how your current schedule might be different from how things were a short time ago, and plan accordingly. For a method to map out your “ideal week” listen to Episode 4: Create Your Ideal Week.
- Think about other ways you might draw boundaries around your own availability.
“You cannot let work ooze into every moment of your day.”
Reset Your “Productivity” Bar
If you’ve been following me for long you know that I hate the word “productivity” because it makes me feel like we are robots in a factory. But what I am trying to convey here holds. Especially right now at this unprecedented time, you simply must reset your expectations for your own work output. Right now, we are dealing with worries about the worldwide pandemic, extra work with kids doing school at home, or other family members home that usually aren’t, or maybe we’re stuck at home alone and are dealing with loneliness. In situations like this, creativity might desert us completely. Remember:
- Now is not the time to try and hit goals that you made 2 months ago.
- Set the bar for what you will accomplish in the next few months LOW.
- You may be able to get more done in less time than you did on campus, and you may not. Either way, don’t try to work long hours.
- Be gentle with yourself and those around you.
Reset Your Writing Practice
It’s time to get back to basics with your writing practice. Now is not the time to go all out, or to try and stick to goals you had before everything went nuts. Your energy and focus will be drastically different right now. But you don’t want to completely let go of your writing either, since as we all know, it is connected to so much in the academic life. Here’s what to do:
- Reset your practice by figuring out your Tiger Time in your current situation. Tiger Times are the times in your day when you feel most focused, energized, and creative. For a refresher on how to find your Tiger Time, take a listen to Episode 2.
- Set your expectations low. Shoot for 1-2 hours during your Tiger Time, 1-2 times per week, and that’s IT.
- Remember that a small amount of focused, energized time will yield much better results than lots of time when you’re tired and out of energy.
I hope you are able to use this time to reset some aspects of your academic life. To be part of the discussion on these ideas and many more with like-minded academic women, join us in my Facebook group, I Should Be Writing.
My Academic Women’s Writing Roadmap course is opening for enrollment soon!
We cover all kinds of tools and tips to help you create a sustainable writing system, even in these uncertain times. We’ll help you get your pipeline up and running, and help you find that time to write.
To be sure you’re on the mailing list so you know when enrollment is open, be sure to grab my free PDF cheat sheet, 10 Ways to Make Time to Write. You’ll automatically be put on the email list to receive the latest information about upcoming workshops, trainings and opportunities. There’s a lot coming up, so stay tuned!
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