September 27, 2016

September Goal Check In: Week 3

Can you believe it’s nearly October already?? 2016 has flown by, and it’s crazy to think there’s only one quarter left. I’m still trying to figure out what my October challenge is going to be, and part of that has been because I don’t know what my day-to-day life is going to look like.

One of the stresses of consulting is that your lifestyle changes dramatically from project to project, and there isn’t usually much insight into what you’re going to be doing next. With my current project wrapping up this week, I may be working from home in Colorado all month long, or I may only get home as little as two weekends in a month. Plans have a tendency to go on hold when you’re in between projects, while you try to get work figured out, and as an avid planner, I am not a fan of this part of the job.

Not quite as glamorous as you might think.

On a related note, my focus on my September challenge has waned quite a bit, as I’ve focused instead on the challenge of leaving my current client. Tomorrow is my last day on this project, and I just don’t want to go! I’ve been working with some amazing people at this client for over a year now, and I am going to miss them a lot 🙁

However, my departure wasn’t unexpected (or at least, I’ve known about it for a few weeks). When I did my week 2 check in, I correctly predicted that things were going to be hectic, so I had updated my goal for this week as follows:

“If I know I’ll have time at my computer within two hours, I’ll try to resist the siren song of emails on my phone. If I know that I won’t be at my computer to respond that quickly, then I will force myself to actually stop what I am doing before I answer from my phone. I think part of my problem this past week was that I was often trying to walk and type.”

I think I did a pretty good job with this modification! I generally managed to resist reading emails until I was ready to respond to them, and I frequently took chunks of time to process emails, rather than trying to squeeze them in at times that weren’t ideal. As a result, I only have three emails in my personal inbox from the month of September, and two emails in my client inbox total. (My firm inbox has about 20 for the month, but I’ve consciously deprioritized that since my first priority at work is getting my client work squared away before I leave.) This is a huge improvement from before my September challenge, and it’s made me feel like I’m really on top of things, since I get so many ad hoc requests in my email.

Overall, I’m still feeling the benefit of shifting my mindset that I wrote about the first week of this challenge. When I tell myself that dealing with an email is non-negotiable, rather than something that can be delayed till later or till another day, I take care of it very quickly. Plus, that mentality sticks with me and helps me avoid procrastinating on other things – kind of like how doing a morning workout can put you in a healthy mood for the day. I’ve marginally improved at my ability to respond to emails via phone, and I’m going to keep working on that even after this month’s challenge is up. But even if I just get that psychological benefit of encouraging myself not to procrastinate, this challenge has been well worth it.


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