I’ve been thinking about Joi’s comment that the best time to engage in contemplative practice is precisely when you feel focused and energized and ready to work—I find it incredibly difficult to tear myself away from my work when I’m “in the zone",” when I feel like I’m being productive, but I find that I struggle with burnout and getting in the way of my future self by overextending my present self. So I’m working on that.
This past month or so has been the first time in a long time—i.e. the first time since I was maybe 13—that I’ve had a regular sleep and exercise schedule with an explicit goal of getting 8 hours a night (I know the requirement for this class is 7 hours, but I need more than that). I have noticed improvements in mood and reduced anxiety, but I am getting less work done (at least in the short run). I think my overall mental health is better when I get up in the morning, attend 90% of my lectures, go to meetings and other events, eat regular meals, and go home to sleep, but my creative output is actually higher when I stay up super late to get work done, sleep through lectures, and emerge bewildered from my room at like 2pm.
I’m taking more participation-based classes this semester, classes that rely on participation and practice and attendance (rather than, say, reading and writing and using technical skills) to achieve mastery. It’s been a while since I’ve taken a class outside of the departments I’m interested in (14, 18, 21W/CMS, WGS), and I find myself sometimes responding to new ideas with defensiveness and judgment. I find it difficult to juggle my “economist” mindset—for example, thinking “what evidence would I need to establish a causal relationship?” whenever I notice a behavioral phenomenonn—with being a regular person with unfiltered thoughts that aren’t backed up by a body of empirical evidence.
Update 2/15: Just found myself trying to do a math pset at midnight. Sigh, must get better at time management. Ironically (?), taking on more activities that require attendance and presence has led me to become even more obsessive about scheduling every minute of my life so that I can make time for everything (like mediation, reflection, reading the news, running, rehearsing). I think it’s good for my discipline (and mental health) but I’m not sure if this is the intended effect.