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Phoebe's Journal

Published onFeb 18, 2018
Phoebe's Journal

Journal 02/16

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.

Aashka Dave:

This sentence really resonated with me. Over the last couple years, I’ve formed an odd habit of — when I really need to get work done — waking up at 4 am and working until 8 am-ish because I love that everything in the world is quiet and still and I can just do work. That doesn’t mesh well with doing all the other things you’ve mentioned here, so I guess we’re in similar boats. I wonder how this will shape up this semester!

Joichi Ito:

I wonder how many of us are up at 4AM and how many of the night owls wrap around to connect with the early birds at 4AM. I also feel that there something special about being super-productive when everyone else is asleep. I find that 9PM-4AM sleeping works well for me to get a lot of stuff done in the morning but not be unreasonably sleepy at dinner. But I think I’m a morning person. I think night owls might go the other way and sleep from 4AM until 11AM or so.

Phoebe, what sort of feeling do you have when you are in the “Creative Zone?” What sort of energy are you tapping into?

Anna WB:

I definitely fell into this habit during my MIT undergrad, and haven’t quite been able to escape…

Bianca Datta:

This is something I really struggle with, even though I am a happier and healthier person when I am well rested. I’m excited to see how this shapes up for both of us.

Joichi Ito:

Someone sent me this today: