Happiness is… A List

dancing in the rain
Credit: flickr / AngelsWings

For a long time, I’ve been doing this thing where I GO GO GO like a crazy person and then crash. And I always come up with a plan, like “take on less”, or “be more organized” or some other strategy. And these are helpful, absolutely, but at best they seem to result in a different kind of crisis.

Lately, I’ve been feeling a little burnt out. There are a number of reasons for that, but here’s the big one: I’ve not had more than 4 days off work in a row since I started in January – and that was a long weekend. And normally I’ve spent at least some of those long weekends doing non-work-work. Writing talks, papers, whatever. And I’m exhausted. I want to lie down and sleep for a week, frankly. I’ve booked a week of vacation off for early-September, we’ll be going to Nova Scotia and Price Edward Island with my parents, and I can’t wait.

But, I’m going to come back and it’ll be GO GO GO again. We have an event for female university students coming up, plus there’s Awesome Foundation, Girl Geek Dinner, and training for… something I agreed to do a while ago and don’t exactly know what it is. A talk in Seattle. And – more travel. When I was less than delighted by the number of trips I was looking to have to make to MTV, I said, “it would be different if I was going somewhere cool, like New York”. Be careful what you wish for! Because I am, in fact, set to be making a number of trips to… (you guessed it!) New York. On the one hand, much better than MTV – shorter flight, no time-difference, a city, and I love MOMA. On the other, I find that travel tends to eat a lot of my unstructured time.

The point of all this is, I’ve been stressed and unhappy, and thinking about what it is that I need in order to feel… frankly, less like a crazy person. Something I recently said to my manager: “I always meet my obligations. One day I’ll have a nervous breakdown because I’m insisting on doing all the things I’ve said I’ll do, which the people who asked me have probably forgotten about. And that’s how I’m going to die”.

How about – no nervous breakdown. So I made this list of what I need outside of work to stay sane, which I’ve broken this down into: “most days” and “most weeks”.

Most Days

  • Exercise.
  • Read something that is not digital (Kindle doesn’t count as digital to me).
  • 8 hours sleep.
  • Leave work before 7.
Most Weeks
  • Pajama day.
  • Read a novel.
  • Read some part of a non-fiction book.
  • Hang out with friends.
  • Have date with boyfriend (Go out! Somewhere nice!)
  • Read enough stuff online to feel more aware of the world and the awesome stuff in it (measured by: 15 links worth sharing on Twitter).
  • Feel interesting enough/inspired to write 2-3 blog posts (for me, it’s a bigger problem when I don’t want to write, than when I don’t have time to write).
  • An evening of Cate-time.
  • Make progress on a non-work project (e.g. presentation, paper, coding), have an an event (e.g. AF, GGD), or some non-work learning (e.g. App Inventor).
Here’s an interesting post on dealing with burn-out.

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