It's that time again...
Although I'm in academia, school, uni, what-have-you, it feels much more like I've got a self-employed job. That's the beauty of the PhD... I get to make my own schedule. Okay, I'll admit—it's really a blessing and a curse because if I don't keep tabs on myself, I will easily sleep in, fart around, and get 2 hours max of work done before I'm zoned into "Bachelor in Paradise" or whatever TV series I'm watching on Netflix.
Below is a layout of my typical daily-schedule that I force myself to keep to.
But first, a few rules:
Rule #1: prepare lunch and outfit the night before
Before bedtime every night, I make a tupperware of food for lunch.* Normally I stick to a high protein/low carb meal like chicken with salad and an apple. I also grind some beans to make coffee with my Aeropress. (I calculated that I was spending £50 on coffee a month(!), so I invested in an Aeropress to save money and time.) I check the weather for the next day to see what outfit I should wear (sweaters and rain jackets all day, errday). I pack my bag with gym clothes because I go to the gym 4x a week. It's so much easier to get out of bed in the morning and put on the clothes folded at the foot of my bed without having to think about it.
*I love prepping meals for the week—cooking a ton of food one night and putting it all in tupperware with macros written on top. (A post about this is coming soon!)
rule #2: schedule phone for do-not-disturb from 9 am - 5 pm
When my phone is on "Do Not Disturb", I forget it's even there. It's incredible how much time is wasted scrolling through Instagram and Facebook. When people text me, I feel this urgency to respond immediately. The truth is—the texts can wait. My work is more important.
rule #3: no checking emails until 4:30 pm
Emails are distracting. I used to make them top priority, reading through them first thing in the morning before getting my work done. Normally these emails influence me to do anything but my work, like respond to a potential employer or connect with a fellow blogger, or most likely unsubscribe to an obscene amount of newsletters—things that can wait for the afternoon while the morning is designated writing time.
rule #4: no food before 12:30 pM
The main reason for this is because I do intermittent fasting. The earlier I eat, the harder it is to stick to my calories for the day. I end up eating more. Coffee helps with my cravings throughout the morning and I try not to eat until I'm hungry, anytime past 12:30. I wrote a post about intermittent fasting, check it out here.
rule #5: keep transition time to a minimum
I got stuck in a trap of believing I was working a lot every day because I was busy, but I never felt accomplished because I was spending a good chunk of each day moving from one place to another. It's important for me to choose a place to work where I won't get distracted and can stay there for hours. This means coffee shops are a no-go. Luckily Edinburgh Uni has workspaces for post-grad students. After the gym I go straight to uni and I don't waste time going to get coffee down the street because I have an Aeropress and I don't waste time getting lunch because I bring lunch.
Tips for people who procrastinate:
Find a space that doesn't require you to buy a coffee every hour to stay, doesn't distract you, and that isn't home. Find a hot-desking space or the library is always a good choice. I think that anyone who wants to be proactive and focus on their work will struggle if they try to do it at home. Home is a relaxing space. It's where the kitchen is, stocked with food. It's where all the outlets are charging up your iPhone, laptop, and iPad. It's where your shower is, your shower. It's where your pets are. It's where your bed is.
Planning the night before is crucial. If you want to go to the gym after work, you're much more likely to go if you head there straight after work instead of going home first to get your things. You get home, the sun is setting, and your couch looks so comfortable. You say, Fuck it. I worked hard today, I deserve to relax. Then you stay home and feel shitty an hour later when you realize you've broken a promise to yourself.
Planning is for those hours before bedtime when you're half-watching TV, having Instagram scrolling. It's not for the middle of your work day when you're trying to decide what you'll have for dinner that night, a quick Google search for dinner ideas leads you to a YouTube cooking video, and when it's over the suggested video on the side looks good so you click it, and suddenly you're down a YouTube hole of Game of Thrones theories. 30 minutes wasted.
Take out a pen and paper (I know it's archaic) and plan out your week. Put your phone on Airplane Mode or Do Not Disturb during the day. Give yourself 15 minute breaks for every 2 hours of work. You'll be surprised by how much more you can accomplish just by creating a plan.
Comment below and let me know what you do to keep to a schedule.
Thanks for reading!
P.S. Do people actually use bullet journals? As gorgeous as they are, I see it as a huge procrastination trap.