Making a List and Checking it Twice

It’s been super busy recently and I’m quite sad that this has taken its toll on writing blog posts. I’ve frequently felt inklings of creativity bubbling up in the evenings but everything that I’m doing is simultaneously energising and draining me! Volunteering, studying, continuing my roles in UWE’s Women in Science and Engineering society and SfAM’s early career scientist committee are just a taster of the things that I’ve been doing. One of my friends called me Wonder Woman the other day but I’m as far from an organisational goddess as can be!

One thing that has been causing me some grief is my To Do list. Although the fact that the number of things that are on it seems to be increasing rather than decreasing is slightly soul destroying, this is not the root of the problem. For a long time, I’ve sworn by the power of pen and paper; having a physical paper list in front of me seemed like the optimum way of managing everything that was going on and I revelled in creating these lists and pinning them up on my notice board. This was all fine until I lost my To Do list three times within the space of two weeks. This came about because I had so little faith in my memory of what was on that list that I needed to take it everywhere. The most recent misplacing of this list caused me to have a real panic attack; I wasn’t hyperventilating on the floor or rocking back and forth while sat in a corner, to my friends I looked mildly pissed off but inside was a different story. It was almost like a persistent earthquake was rumbling around in my body and my mind; I was shaky and I couldn’t think straight apart from the dread and worry that I would never remember all the things that were on that list. I eventually found the list but the experience of feeling so panicked and helpless when I’d lost the list made me realise that I relied too much on a piece of paper.

In light of this experience and spurred on by a project management lecture, I’ve digitising that stupid piece of paper! Strangely, it’s helped me to remember what I’ve got to do without looking at the list because of the categories and colours that I’ve added to jazz it up a bit. I look at it occasionally to search for tasks that can be done quickly when I have a few minutes to spare but apart from that I feel a lot less reliant on it!

I always convince myself that I like to be busy but sometimes I look at my diary and shudder at the amount of stuff that’s written in it. I was once told by my college tutor that I needed to make more time for myself and I seem to have burried that advice in the pile of things that don’t apply to my life anymore. That’s simply not true, people should always make time for themselves and I’m constantly reminded of this by the busy women scientists I follow on social media whose to do lists must be triple the size of mine!

My final thought is that I need to be careful that I don’t work myself into a hole that I can’t climb out of. I’ve seen what it can do to people and I don’t want to be in a place where all my activities start closing in around me and blocking out the sun.

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