So I’ve been using Beeminder for a few months now, but I recently decided to cut back a bit on all of my goals because having more than, say, five goals just seems to add a massive amount of stress that I can’t really handle. I discovered that I could deal with it during my good times but as soon as I started to hit one of my bad streaks it was just exacerbating my already existing tendency to hide in my turtle shell from the world online and off.
I’ve pared my goals down to the ones that I think are most important and effective: word count, blog posts, working on poetry to submit, and doing Duolingo Spanish lessons. I also kept a flossing goal in there just because it’s simple and a good idea to keep doing regularly. I’ve also cut down pretty significantly the rates for most of my goals just because I found I needed more rest.
The hard part about teaching, for me, is that being around people is exhausting. I’m a good lecturer and I can handle doing the performance aspect of teaching quite well, but after a lecture or holding office hours I’m often shaky and just need to not interact with anyone. Some of this is just natural introversion, but the balance is my mental illness. I’m pretty bad at balancing things and knowing my own limits so I have a tendency to burn myself out too far. For example, for awhile this summer during the lecture days I would get to PCS around 1-2pm, talk with students and work on materials until lecture at 6pm, and then get out at 9pm. This meant that I’d be constantly around people for seven or eight hours straight. I’d then be exhausted and barely able to think straight the day after. That leads to some massive inefficiency in how I use my time and also leaves me feeling way more stressed than is really good or necessary. I’m trying to, instead, be a bit better in terms of making myself get time alone to recharge. This is where beeminder comes back into things. I think what I’m going to try is set up a goal to make myself get a certain amount of time per day when I’m not trying to talk to anyone, not even online, since even just a little while of being by myself with headphones on and no social media can be ridiculously helpful in terms of getting the anxiety back down to manageable levels. I could do this with either TagTime or by clocking in and out with org-mode. I might try using TagTime just because if I’m super frazzled then explicit clocking might be too hard, because by super frazzled I mean getting disoriented enough that I lose track of time and even where I am. I can still, though, respond to my phone and tag-time pings. I might try starting with just insisting that I take a single hour per day when I’m not trying to talk to or be around anyone, which seems like a reasonable goal and yet one I don’t regularly meet.
I’m not sure if there’s other interesting things I could try to measure in order to keep track of how I’m doing. The only thing I can think of that’d be useful, yet not difficult to measure, is trying to spend more time reading, both for fun and more papers. My biggest motivation here is that since it’s really easy for me to deplete myself and lose a lot of usable hours to exhaustion and anxiety, I need to find ways to be more careful and efficient with my time. If I’m not careful even a part-time job will leave me completely exhausted to the point that I can barely take care of myself.