So am I.
There are weeks, especially this time of year, when it looks like a unicorn who devoured a bag of Skittles threw up on my Outlook calendar.
But the number of hours I work in a day and the number of meetings I attend don’t define the work I do. I can spend 14 hours in back-to-back meetings and contribute nothing to my campus. On the flip, I can spend six hours at my desk and make significant progress on a project that will benefit our students.
As a society, we’re in a love affair with our own busyness. It’s an endless topic of conversation in my social media feeds — another 12 hour work day, another string of meetings, another late night student organization meeting. And it’s easy to get caught up in world of competitive calendar comparisons. But it’s also dangerous.
Your self-worth is not tied to your calendar.
I get it. We work in student affairs, a field that can be nebulous in regard to how we define success for ourselves or our students. When I leave at the end of the day, I don’t have a standardized report of what I accomplished and how many things I fixed. I can’t compare my productivity day to day with a graph and I don’t have a sign hanging in my office that says, “Target met for XX days”.
We have to find ways to find meaning ourselves, to measure our own successes in a way isn’t tied to what’s on our calendar. For me, it means writing down three successes I had every day before I leave the office. My little yellow notebook is filled with things that may be inconsequential to others, but are victories for me. They are sometimes tangibles like completing a timeline for a project; they are sometimes intangibles like having a good conversation with a staff member. I’ve done this for three years now and while it occasionally feels like a chore, it reminds me to find my own meaning in what I do and to stop keeping score with calendar items.
It also means, for me, finding victories in little moments — like a great parent phone call, a refined process, a connecting moment with a colleague. While these things may appear on my calendar, they are surface level descriptions. It’s the depth of what happens in those time blocks that matters most.
How will you exit the world of competitive calendar comparison and find meaning for yourself?