Back to Baltimore and JHU: Avoiding Burnout

My vacation and my trips to New Orleans and Seattle are are over. I arrived back in Baltimore yesterday, and made my way through the cold, wind, and rain to the lab today.

Hopkins has an “intersession” period at the beginning of January, affording me a brief break from classes. Assuming I passed Models of the Neuron (I still don’t have my grade), and that I pass the two classes I’m going to take this semester, this should be my last semester of classes. Finally. Anyway, for the moment I am free, and I have two more weeks free of immediate and pressing deadlines (i.e. homework).

I plan to take full advantage of this time to knock down Next Actions and finish some projects.

The flip side of this plan is that I am going to try to avoid burnout. In the effort to (a) settle in, (b) keep up, and (c) make a good first impression at JHU, I went full-throttle into the fall semester, working many days 08:00 – 22:00. In short order I found myself burned out but without enough free time to properly recover. I had a very good meeting with my advisor toward the end of the year, in which she suggested that I make time for exercise, meditation, etc.

I know those things are important, but it’s interesting how easily I push them aside when things seem “urgent”.

Thanks to my vacation, I am now well-rested and not a bit burnt out. In fact, I am eager to dig in to my work. However, I’m going to set a few priorities. Call them new years’ resolutions if you like:

  • Exercise – in addition to my daily bike rides, I’m going to continue swimming three times a week, and re-introduce weight training at home to my routine
  • Meditation – I’m going to try to give meditation a higher priority. 20 minutes per day. Surely I can spare that, right?
  • Dharma – I’m going to try to crank through some of the Audio Dharma and Zencast podcasts that I’ve accumulated. Listening to these before, during, and shortly after the Katrina debacle helped to keep me (relatively) sane. It also helps to keep me centered and mindful of attachment.
  • @Home projects – my @Home projects have barely moved in half a year. I’m going to devote some more home time to finishing some of those Next Actions.

Also, several people in my life are climbing on to the GTD bandwagon, and this is giving me renewed interest in streamlining and making more effective my own system. On the flight to Baltimore I spent some time with my treo, whacking the stupid out of my system and re-evaluating some of my stubborn Next Actions. I’ve already seen an increase in my ability to knock down the NAs.

One thought on “Back to Baltimore and JHU: Avoiding Burnout

  1. misterbeans

    Well hurray!

    I’m finding that it feels good to be back in the routine again. I spent an hour doing home stuff and I’m so pleased, already, with the results. There is still much to be done, since I’ve spent more than a month out of my routines. But all in all, much better.

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