This has been such an amazing summer for me but am I the only one who felt like the months flew by?! In May, I finished ALL required coursework to fulfill the requirements for my PhD! In June, my family and I went on our annual beach vacation and it was like lounging in paradise! In July, one of my oldest and best friends got married in one of the most beautiful ceremonies I have ever participated in! I was nervous, however, about so many different weeks I would be away from the lab and unable to focus on my research. In the past, I would get nauseous at the idea of not getting work done which kept me from fully relaxing on vacation. Don't get me wrong, I LIVE for a good vacation or Netflix binge, but the post break "guilty guts" I experienced made it hard to enjoy the experience. This summer, however, I have done a better job enjoying my time and actually banishing that guilt to the nether-regions of my subconscious. I want to share with you my process for overcoming this misplaced guilt in order to enjoy my summer.
- Reach Out- I had a long to-do list that I wanted to finish before I left town and I was determined to cross off every item! I was sitting at my desk working on a manuscript draft and I was stuck on the introduction. After what felt like hours of staring at the screen ruminating on why I couldn't get past this block, I decided to take action and call someone for help: my Dad. This was one of my best decisions! He reminded me that it is important to step away during those moments so that you do not end up stuck in that nasty limbo where you are both getting no work done and not enjoying the moment. I was feeling so guilty about making slow progress on that section that it was eating up the rest of the day which I had allotted to other important tasks that needed to be completed before my trips. I was so focused on finishing that one task I forgot to take regular breaks to keep my thinking fresh and my mind alert. Talking it out helped calm my spirit and focus my mind so that I could write.
- Mental Reframe- After talking to my Dad about this, I realized I had the wrong mindset and needed to shift my thinking if I wanted things to change. I was so busy sitting at my desk panicking about how much more work I had left to do in the little time before my trip that I didn't even realize I was wasting that time. After talking to my Dad, I had a meditation session to clear and center my mind. Focusing on my breathing and the soothing sounds from the Spotify meditation playlist were extremely helpful. I had an epiphany & realized that whatever I was able to get done before leaving would be enough and upon my return I would finish the rest. Reshaping my thinking took a huge weight off of my shoulders which allowed me to actually focus on my work and get more done!
- Plan Ahead- From my previous blog and Instagram posts about planners, you can tell that I am an organized soul who needs to plan ahead to avoid anxiety and procrastination. I knew that I wanted to finish writing certain dissertation sections and getting my research project materials ready by exactly one week before my friend's wedding. I didn't want to be frantically writing in case I needed a last minute bridesmaid dress adjustment (which of course is exactly what happened). I used my planners to maximize the months, weeks, days, and hours leading up to my travels to ensure maximum productivity. I also scheduled in regular check ins with my productivity buddies to make sure I stayed on schedule....or at least to make sure I strayed as little as possible.
I hope these tips can help you conquer the guilt and enjoy the moments with friends and family or in solitude away from work! I know that I fully enjoyed my family vacation and bridesmaid experience because I was able to mentally turn off work worries and focus on the joy of the moment. Do you have any other tips that help you to conquer guilt or other distractions? Share in the comments below!