GradLife Chic


Summer Reflections: Conquering Guilt like a Boss

Reflections, Lifestyle, ProductivityMaria JonesComment

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.

    1. 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.
    2. 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! 
    3. 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!

    Restez Chic Toujours!

    Such a 'GradLife Chic' Day!

    Lifestyle, Reflections, Academia, PlannersMaria Jones1 Comment

    As I was reflecting on my day today on the phone with my dear friend Dr. A. Jones, she laughed and exclaimed, "You're having the Maria Jonesiest of days!" I almost cried laughing at the description but it was pretty accurate! Spelman woman, planners, shopping, pink and gold all quite accurately describe my day. In fact, they describe me so well that it felt like the perfect day to reveal my new logo designs and website! 



    This glamorous pink and gold reflects my general personality, personal brand, as well as the amazing day I had! I started my day off bright and early at my beloved alma mater, the ILLUSTRIOUS Spelman College. As you may recall from this post last April, I love going back to campus because it feels like coming home and I always enjoy giving back to the community that helped shape the woman I am today. I was once again serving as a judge for the psychology session at Spelman's Annual Research Day and proud of the research that the current students were conducting. Since mentoring is an important part of my love for academia, it is always a pleasure to provide feedback to budding young researchers. After leaving Spelman, I went back to campus in time for my weekly journal club and TA meetings. #GradLifeWin

    After my class and teaching responsibilities concluded, I went to go pick up my brand new lifestyle blogger business cards! The cards were designed by the wonderfully sweet and talented Jessica who also designed the new logos for my blog! You can find more of her work at her website here. Not only did she take the time to design a logo that reflected my inner essence so well but quickly designed these cards so that I could get them printed in time for Southeast Planner Con tomorrow! INSERT HIGH PITCHED SQUEALS OF PLANNER NERD DELIGHT! Afterwards, I went to the mall to grab this cute pink skirt to coordinate with the planner goodies I decided to take with me including my mini Day Designer & Target Style mini pad folio. If you're interested in a Day Designer planner you can check them out here.

    I am SO  excited to take a short break from grad school life to engage fully in my planner loving addiction! Most of the people in my life are shocked and amused that a Planner Con even exists and can't believe I'm going. I can't either because I get to plan, decorate, and network with the planner community in person! Let me know if you'll be attending because I would love to meet you!

    Make sure to follow me on social media at the links in the sidebar for pictures from the event as well as a planner inspired giveaway coming soon!

    Restez Chic Toujours!


    *Post contains affiliate links. All items pictured were purchased by me and all opinions are genuinely my own.*

    Happy New Year!

    Reflections, Planners, LifestyleMaria S. JonesComment

    Happy New Year! I hope you all have been enjoying fun times with loved ones and getting some rest before the new year. As I sit down with my planners and get ready for this new month and year, I want to take a minute to reflect on how I kicked 2015's ass and how I plan to stay consistent in 2016. As I am sure you can guess from the image above, I have FINALLY chosen my word for 2016: Consistency.

    In 2015, I decided to choose a single word around which I centered my goals: Simplify. I was originally inspired in 2014 during my qualifying exams to simplify my life because I felt SO overwhelmed by the task at hand coupled with the amount of STUFF that seemed to be closing in on me. I suppose then it was more of a 2014-2015 goal because it has been a long road to simplification. I would not go so far as to say it has been a journey into minimalism but I have borrowed heavily from those practices. I wanted to clear out the physical clutter which, I have always believed, is a manifestation of mental and emotional clutter. After reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up (found on Amazon) in 2015, I was able to take the purging to the next level and even reduced a major component of my shopping impulses. Was it also a way to productively procrastinate during breaks from my exam? Probably! Did I significantly reduce the amount of unnecessary items from my home and life? Yes! I purged so many clothing items, office supplies, beauty products, toxic relationships, and knickknacks I had acquired over the years and it truly was a life changing and magical process! Not to mention it shifted my mindset and contributed to other 2015 wins: returned from medical leave with a clean bill of health, spent an entire calendar year hospital free, travelled internationally, empowered myself by helping others reach their goals, planned a new research trajectory, and survived my first semester back on my PhD grind.

    I am SO excited to kick off this year on a positive and energized note. After making so much progress this past year, I want to make sure I keep riding this momentum by practicing consistency in all areas of my life. I want to be more consistent in managing my health, research projects, finances, relationships with loved ones and God, and more! I am a little nervous as I type this because now it's real and out there on the Internet forcing a new level of accountability. PHEW! In the spirit of holding myself accountable, I plan to use my next few posts in January to discuss my goals in more detail and discuss some of the tools I plan to use to achieve them (spoiler alert: planners, apps, and color coding are involved). What are your goals for 2016? If you also choose a word a year let me know in the comments below! 

    Restez Chic Toujours!  


    Lifestyle, ReflectionsMaria S. Jones5 Comments

    I am a doctoral student in cognitive developmental psychology with a passion for child development, mentoring, and color-coding. As the oldest of 3 siblings, I have spent the majority of my life mentoring and using my victories-as well as my mistakes-to help others navigate their own situations. I love it! It also helps that when I imagine a job posting for "Professional Mentor" I always think about how I have been training for this my entire life- thanks Mom & Dad!

    The idea for GradLife Chic was born while sitting in a doctor's office after complications following eye surgery. I had a large tote bag packed full with my laptop, pile of articles, and library books as I was preparing my dissertation proposal. I sat there ruminating on how the delays related to the procedure were going to delay the draft I needed to have finished that day and was halfway to a full blown panic attack when I realized that I needed to get my priorities in order. At the rate I was going, neither my work nor my health were getting properly prioritized. I had considered taking a leave of absence at several points of my early graduate career as my chronic health issues were all exacerbated by the chronic stress of pursuing a Ph.D. Since I had just passed my qualifying exams a few months before, I decided it was finally the right moment to take a break from my work and focus on healing so that I can return to school with renewed energy and strength.

    Despite experiencing setbacks in my research program because of those illnesses, I earned a National Science Foundation grant, successfully completed my master's thesis, and passed my qualifying exams in my first 3 years. People have often asked me how I maintain such an effervescent disposition despite having such health difficulties. Well let me tell you it is not as easy as I must be making it look. The short answer is phenomenal social support, amazing healthcare, mindfulness meditation, waterproof mascara, dance breaks, and a bright colorful workspace.

    Interested in learning more details about stylishly surviving and thriving in graduate school? Curious about getting into graduate school? Already in graduate school and looking for a supportive ear? Then you are in the right place! Hopefully my tips and testimony will bless and motivate someone as we navigate this journey through the Ph.D. and beyond!

    Restez Chic Toujours!