This semester I’ve learned a lot (one reason why I haven’t posted a blog in a while). I learned how to be a better writer, a better proofreader, a nice listener, but most of all I learned how to put myself first. I know it sounds weird and selfish to say, but it is definitely essential to my current progress in the Ph.D.program.
I have been to several workshops for Ph.D. students where they harped on the topic of “taking time for yourself” multiple times. However, I never realized how important it was until I realized I didn’t have any time for myself. It is very easy to get overbooked and bogged down with papers and projects and disregard your well-being. But just as easy as it is get bogged down by other work it should be just as easy to know when you NEED to take a step back and take a chill pill.
That catch here is that’s definitely easier said than done. I started off this semester as I have with other semesters doing my morning yoga, ab workouts, and road runs three days a week. As the semester continued, my courses demanded more time and my research had more deliverables. The late nights trying to get work done limited the time I had in the early morning for me; I was so drained! I eventually came to a point where I was not getting as much work done because I felt like I was just going through the motions. I was feeling overwhelmed one week and I literally had to take a step back and disconnect during a crucial time for a project. Some members of my team weren’t as understanding of what was going on with me, but it wasn’t about them, IT WAS ABOUT MY SANITY. I realized that I had cut out everything that was keeping me balanced and took that weekend to recharge my batteries. The following week I came back strong and knocked action items out of the park!
I brought up my experience to say that it is important to also know that you are breaking no rules taking your “me time”. Whether it be 2 days or a week, I think it is integral in keeping your sanity. It often feels weird saying that you’re going to take some time away from your work, but don’t let it discourage you. Honestly, at the end of the day it’s up to you to know your limits and save that time for you. Believe me when I say others can’t tell you when to take that time.
As I approach the end of my second year in the PhD program and reminisce on this last semester, I think a #MajorKey🗝 to me staying in school was getting that non-work time. Literally, every Saturday I try to make it my goal to keep that day work free. In an ideal world that would include me not opening my laptop on Saturday (Side note: that doesn’t always work for me because I like to Netflix & Chill 😬 ). I also use this day to catch up with my siblings and try to do non research related things I may have missed throughout the week.
The same concept of taking a day off every week may not work for you, but regardless it should be essential to get that time in and do something that recharges you. Giving yourself about 30 minutes or so a day can be another alternative. Making sure I get that time as part of my routine helps me be more productive all around! I still have those times where I skip an occasional workout or two (I’m working on it geesh! 🤓 ), but I think it will all work itself out if I listen to my body and tune into myself.
Have a #MajorKey🗝 to maintaining this balance? Feel free to share your wisdom in the comments section!