I had two things on my mind this week. My uni assignment, which was due on Sunday, and getting a work project to a point where I could hand it over to my boss before I went on leave. Yes, next week is school holidays, and I’m having a week off. It’s perfect timing with the assignment so I can have a break without anything looming on my mind.
That was the idea, anyway. I had planned to sit down and work on the work project for pretty much the whole week and I was excited about getting stuck into it and turning it into something that I could circulate to others for sanity checking. Unfortunately, work had other ideas, and I spent much of the week in reactive mode. Such is the way of my job at the moment. It’s not my ideal way of working by a long shot, but it’s what I have to do right now, and I just have to get on with it. I got all of that work done by Friday afternoon, but the project was still one big mess when I sent it to my boss. At least we still have time to work on it and I think I have all the ideas in there, even if they aren’t executed very well at this point.
I went back to the office on Thursday as part of the staged return to the workplace now that the Covid-19 restrictions are being lifted. Different people are coming in on different days so everyone isn’t jammed into the open-plan office all at once. It’s kind of funny because three years ago they were working out how to cram as many people in there as possible, and now we all have to stay away from each other.
While I’d be perfectly happy to never set foot in there again, that’s not going to be possible and I’ve got the next best thing, which is one day a week at the office and four days at home. I can live with that.
One of the things that I hope is going to keep me sane and settled going back into that space is my daily mindfulness practice, which I’ve been learning while I’ve been at home and have been building up over the last few weeks. On Thursday I reached the 100 consecutive days milestone on Insight Timer, which is the app I’ve been using to keep track of my progress. I posted on Instagram that I thought the day I went back to a workplace that isn’t good for me was a good day to reach this milestone. Building up to 30 minutes practice a day (twice most days) and learning to apply this to real life rather than it just being something that I tick off a to-do list is very challenging and very new to me, but I hope it will benefit me as I start to emerge from my isolation cocoon.
As I said last week, I went into the office last weekend to work on my assignment and came back from those two days feeling more confused than ever. At the start of this week, I felt like I was never going to get it done because I couldn’t make sense of it at all. It was beginning to remind me of a work project I struggled with several years ago that seemed simple on the surface but that I just couldn’t get my head around. I emerged from that project with my confidence severely dented and, in some respects, I don’t think I’ve ever really recovered.
I knew I had to get the assignment done because of the Sunday deadline and there was no option to get an extension because of my holiday, so I was feeling really frantic about it and had no idea how I was going to do it. Half of me knew I was going to hand something in because I just would, but the other half was freaking how about how exactly this was going to happen.
I emailed one of my classmates during the week to see how she was going. She hadn’t done much but she had an outline and she had some notes on how she was going to apply her work situation to the assignment. She had not, as I had, got caught up on trying to set up the big picture and then been unable to apply the actual problem to this. As soon as I saw her work I realised what I’d been doing that was causing my frustration, and I ripped everything up I’d done and started again. Yes, everything I had done on the weekend was pretty much a wasted effort. Through I had done some flow charts that I decided I was going to include, no matter what, because I had put too much work into them to leave them out.
Once I’d pressed reset, the work finally started to come together and for the first time, by Thursday night, I felt that I would have something to hand in that vaguely resembled the topic. I remarked to someone who had done the same course last year that there was bound to be one assignment that ended up being more difficult than all the others put together, and that for me it was this one. He said I’d be fine. I hoped he was right.
My weekend to-do list was to do the assignment. Nothing else really mattered, and that’s what I did. I had a semi-polished piece by Saturday night that I thought if I’d been hit by a bus on my walk on Sunday morning walk, someone could have handed in and I’d probably have passed the unit posthumously. (Yeah, I was in a good place mentally, wasn’t I?!) I didn’t have the days that I would normally like to take to refine it and cut it into something close to the word limit. I had one day, and I did the best I could. By 10pm, I was exhausted and I knew that if I kept looking at it I’d start to doubt myself and try to rewrite sections, which would end up turning something that was relatively coherent into a big mess. I knew it wasn’t perfect and that I hadn’t explained some things as well as I’d have liked to, but there was no way I was physically or mentally capable of changing anything in the two hours I had left, so I handed it in and collapsed into bed.
I expected to feel relief after handing it in but I felt completely drained. A break away would be just what I needed.
(I did make some time to work on two of my other things this week. I spent a bit of time one night when my brain was exhausted playing with my graphics tablet (thing 17) and I took an hour to sit in the coffee shop one morning to start my monthly review for June (thing 22), which I intended to finish after I’d handed the assignment in.)
Summary for the week
Things completed this week: 0
Things completed to date: 10 (1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 14, 15, 16, 18)
Things I progressed: 3 (8, 17, 22)
Things in progress I didn’t progress: 3 (7, 11, 13)