I suffer most weeks from a gently gnawing sense of anxiety that starts usually Sunday morning when I wake up and grows steadily until Monday morning when I finally sit down at my desk again. I alternate names for this including Sunday blues or Sunday Stress because inevitably that’s when it shows up. The basis of this fear is that I’m not working hard enough or fast enough, that I’m on the wrong track or that my topic of study is an indulgence, not a worthy target of research effort or will be inadequately addressed by my approach and ultimately amount to nothing. The strange thing is that this fear does disappear when I get back to the office on Monday, it doesn’t persist for the entire week, at least not in the same form!
I asked a friend of mine who has a challenging leadership position in social work whether she gets the same issue, but she said doesn’t. So I asked her how it is that she manages to avoid wasting her time away from work feeling terrible about what is to come? She said she comes into work early with enough time to have a cup of coffee before the clock starts and each day she doesn’t tackle anything until she’s had that one cup. Then at the end of the day, she shuts down her computer and refuses to think of any work again until after she’s had that one cup the next day. She said this approach has been pivotal in her ability to remain in the profession. She now credits it with having been able to work for years without burning out, unlike many of her colleagues.
This reminded me of another technique to manage similar issues and improve your efficiency at work or for study. At the end of each day, you stop 10-15 minutes early or before you must leave and write a to-do list for firs thing the next morning. You then save this somewhere it will be seen as soon as you are ready to start. Eg. on your desktop or your desk. This way you have a plan and can put your mind at ease during your downtime as well as making the most of your work time. This seems like a good plan, so I will be attempting to put it into action this week and maybe the weeks following.
What do you think? Do you have a strategy for preventing your work or study from causing angst in the rest of your life? In what ways might your life be different if you did? Please leave a comment below, I’d love to hear your thoughts.