Tag: workload

Burnout

Blogathon Post #4: Preventing Burnout

Throughout the month of August, I'm aiming to write 25 blog posts. This is post #4 of 25. Find them all in the "blogathon 2014" category.

I’ve only been doing this blogathon thing for five days, but in those five days (and three posts), I’ve written 4,500 words. Rather, I’ve blogged 4,500 words; I’ve been posting to support forums and writing emails and doing a lot more writing elsewhere in my life. Needless to say, I was starting to feel some significant burnout–and I still had 22 more posts to go.

This was weighing on my mind as I walked into the kitchen this morning to get breakfast, and I saw it. An idea struck me.

See, here’s the thing. I love old-fashioned cake donuts. They are easily among my favorite donuts of all, second only to buttermilk bars. And when R and I went grocery shopping this weekend, she bought some.

But not for me.

She bought two boxes of glazed old-fashioned cake donuts to bring for a coworker’s birthday celebration this week, which means I definitely cannot touch them.

Two. Whole. Boxes.

I walk by them every day. I see them, giving me those alluring eyes.1What, your donuts don’t have eyes? I don’t think R understands how much restraint I exercise on a daily basis just to keep from devouring them.

But I think I can help illustrate the point for her.

Donuts

It’s important to take breaks now and again. Can’t be all business all the time.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. What, your donuts don’t have eyes?

Thesis by the Numbers

Thesis word cloud

I turned in my senior thesis on Wednesday this week. All that’s left is an oral defense, in early May, and then I can actually graduate, hopefully with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with honors, Summa Cum Laude. That’s the plan.

For fun(?), I thought I’d share some of the numbers related to the thesis process:

  • Final page length: 103
  • Word count: 20,758
  • Minutes spent editing (according to Word): 6,284
  • References: 56
  • Completed surveys: 447
  • Campuses surveyed: 2
  • Days until thesis was due when I began collecting data: 8
  • Days until thesis was due when I began analyzing data: 2
  • Statistical analyses in final thesis: 5
  • Hours spent learning statistical analysis before April 8: 0
  • Time went to bed on night before due date: 4am
  • Hours spent fighting with Microsoft Word to make thesis print correctly: 3
  • Turned thesis in at: 3:30pm, April 10th, 2013
  • Volume of beer consumed after turning in thesis: [redacted]

It feels good to have a life back.

My Beef

Here’s my problem with my study abroad program.

In the next week and a half, I have to:

  • translate interview questions in to Japanese
  • interview five Japanese people (in Japanese)
  • prepare a 25-minute presentation based on that data (in Japanese)
  • take a Japanese test
  • listen to and critique my performance on my most recent 20-minute Japanese oral exam
  • write a 600-character composition (in Japanese)
  • finish writing a 4-minute script for a film (in Japanese)
  • work with classmates to create the aforementioned film from my and others’ scripts
  • read approximately 200 pages of articles regarding minorities and immigrants in Japan
  • read a Japanese article for my reading comprehension class

This does not include any daily incidental homework that may be assigned in clas–this is just the stuff that I can see coming. And indeed, I’ve seen most of this coming from a mile away.

But I’ve been so swamped with the daily incidental stuff that I’ve been unable to make any headway on these long-standing projects. To illustrate this, in the last week and a half, I had to:

  • read 20 pages of a comic (in Japanese)
  • prepare a vocabulary list/task sheet for those pages (in Japanese)
  • do a Japanese listening practice assignment
  • read roughly 100 pages of articles regarding minorities and immigrants in Japan
  • take two Japanese vocabulary quizzes
  • take two kanji quizzes
  • translate a dozen complicated sentences into Japanese in preparation for a test
  • interview my host family about jobs and employment
  • select (and clean up) pictures to showcase in my photography class
  • write an article in Japanese about my experience with お正月 (oshougatsu– the Japanese New Year)
  • read a Japanese story for my reading comprehension class
  • write a 5-page midterm essay for Minorities and Immigrants in Japan

And that list’s probably not exhaustive. That’s mostly the daily incidental stuff that just came up. The longer-term projects, such as the midterm essay and the article on お正月 were pushed back to far later than one might consider prudent–not from laziness, but from sheer lack of time.

There is so much daily busy work simply required by my classes that I can not touch the long-term projects. I see them coming. I want to get them out of the way. But thanks to all of the stuff I have to do for class just to stay on top of the daily requirements, I cannot get a head start on them.

There are corners I can cut. I can come to Minorities and Immigrants having not read the articles (which I’m doing lately), and I can cut my sleep schedule short (which I’m doing, drastically). But skipping articles means that I don’t get as much as possible out of my Minorities class, which will bite me in a few more weeks when I have to write a final. Cutting my sleep–I’m already getting only about 5-6 hours each night anyway–means that I doze off in class (bad) or when trying to work, so I either get less out of class or my working efficiency drops. Beyond those two, I have a hard time seeing anything I can do (save for not writing blog posts, but this venting is preventing me from just completely breaking down into a nervous wreck, so I believe I can justify it on grounds of preserving my health).

This burns all the more because, for Pete’s sake, I’m in Kyoto. There are a million and a half things I want to be doing. I want to be roaming the streets, checking out temples that catch my fancy. I want to continue my as-of-yet-fruitless search for a double-edged razor (seriously; every drug store in Japan sells Feather brand double-edged razor blades, but none sell the razor itself). I want to peruse the wacky offerings of the enigmatic store called Don Quijote, buy manga at Book Off!, try crepes at a restaurant near campus, or just wander Uji and see what sights pop up to surprise me. I want to go on walks. I want to sing karaoke on Shijo and then slip into the weekend with a visit to a bath. I want to experience Kyoto again.

But I can’t. I can’t even spare time for the long-term projects that are required of me, to say nothing of my personal whims.

Rather than someone experiencing life in Kyoto while studying as a student, I’ve become a student grinding away at the piles of work he has, who just happens to be in Japan. I eat Japanese food for dinner and nobody’s speaking in English, but that’s the current extent of my daily–weekly–monthly experience in Japan. I can’t afford to do anything more.

It’s a recipe for disaster. Take one Spencer, marinated for years in “prone to stress out about work”. Coat in daily obligations. In a separate bowl, mix long-term projects. Keep separate. Sear until the juices of”possible stress relief” have all come out, then throw in a pan and bake on high until carbonized.

This is not, as a keen reader might deduce, ideal.

Bewildered, Part II

Exclamation point

Stale Content Alert!

This post was written a long time ago, and my views have almost certainly evolved since then. Please keep that in mind while reading, commenting, or sharing.

Recall.

Only this time, it’s the rough draft of a Core paper, not a philosophical essay.

Nevertheless, it’s pretty much the same situation all over again. My brain won’t come up with original thoughts, or when I think I have a great idea, it gets completely and totally locked in my head the moment I sit down and try to write it. I can think about it, but the words just won’t flow in the slightest. I end up trying to back up my ideas with multiple snippets of quotes or episodes, rather than honing in on selective episodes and picking them apart for detail like I know I should. I know I should be doing close reading, analyzing smaller parts of the text, using a “microscope rather than a panoramic lens,” so to speak, but my brain just won’t do it. I don’t know how, or at least I feel like I don’t.

My brain feels like it’s not working at all– or if it is, it’s deliberately working against me.

What has gone wrong with me? Why, all of a sudden, am I unable to think well– or express my thoughts through words?

And again, I doubt my being here; and again, I feel hopelessly lost and crushed.

Bewildered

Exclamation point

Stale Content Alert!

This post was written a long time ago, and my views have almost certainly evolved since then. Please keep that in mind while reading, commenting, or sharing.

I’m going to sleep tonight feeling as crappy as can be.

I have incredibly severe doubts about myself right now. I’m doubting my own capabilities, my supposed talents, and really anything that I once thought made me special. (Yes, it’s true, this is that kind of blog post.)

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