Do you know your limits?
The Cult of Productivity is powerful and if you don’t set strong boundaries you’ll end up burnt-out. But how do we set boundaries when the expectations for getting a job and earning tenure are constantly growing?
The first step in setting boundaries is to start with yourself. You have to know your limits. How many hours can you devote to your dissertation in a day and still be a functional human being? How many coffee meetings with colleagues can you really afford? Do you really want to review this article, or are you doing it out of obligation?
I became a professor in part because I wanted to help people and be a positive force through my teaching and research. If you’re like me, you can probably relate to that feeling and you probably struggle with feeling guilty or selfish when you have to say no to someone or an opportunity. But if you’re going to organize your life in a way that supports your mind, body, and spirit – you have to learn to prioritize yourself. Your time and energy are valuable. Setting boundaries can help you conserve both.
Schedule and Defend Self-Care
A good place to start is by looking at your weekly schedule. What’s on it? What’s missing? If you’re like me it probably includes a bunch of work-related tasks with a few personal items interspersed (I will go to the grocery store today). If you’re going to get good at self-care, you need to include it in your schedule. Many academics fiercely guard our writing time, but we get flimsy when it comes to self-care.
This week, you’re going to start small. Add one self-care item to your weekly schedule and defend it. It may be something that you’re already doing – the important thing is to get it on your schedule. It could be a walk around campus, an afternoon coffee break, or 10 minutes of listening to music before your next meeting. Whatever it is, write it down and do your best to stick to it.
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Each week I share self-care tips, practices, and inspiration for academics on this blog and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I’d love for you to join the conversation!