Time Management, or the Complete Lack Thereof

As I sit here on my bed in my Harry Potter leggings with two sleepy schnauzers curled up around me, I fully admit that I’ve got quite the cherry gig going. I’m sure you’re all super tired of hearing me drone on and on about how much I love my new job, but I promise that bringing it back up is simply a way of introducing the main crux of this here post. Because yes, I now work for Yelp and being that Yelp’s HQ is located roughly 2,500 miles away in San Francisco, this means I have all the comforts AND challenges associated with being a remote employee.

Now, I realize I’ve already dedicated an entire post to the pros and cons of working from home, but I figure that it’s a useful enough topic (not to mention pretty crucially relevant to my life and stuff) that it warrants a little more focus. Particularly pertaining to how this epic change to my lifestyle is affecting my health and weight loss efforts. Because, lest we forget, the first time we played this game I had a standard (read: boring) eight-to-four-style government contracting job, which kept me on a very regular work schedule with a LOT of free time both at and after work.

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And now? Well, I’ve already mentioned how time-consuming this job is. In a good way, kind of, considering the fact that I love what I’m doing. But the fact of the matter is that it is just SO easy to spend all of my time these days, well, working! You already know that my job involves planning and participating in lots of nighttime and weekend events, in addition to the many calls and meetings that I have with local businesses throughout the week.

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And since Northern Virginia as a region is actually quite large, it isn’t unheard of for me to end up driving out to meet with someone in Centreville and then head into Arlington and then back out to Fairfax in a single day.

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So between all of that, plus the fact that the rest of my job resides primarily in the online realm and thus I can literally be doing work ALL THE TIME, even when I’m just on my phone, means it’s really, really hard to break away. And so here, in a nutshell, is simultaneously the best AND worst part about working from home:

You set your own schedule.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. And yes, it’s absolutely rad that while I sometimes may spend an entire day running all over Northern VA, popping in and out of meetings, I also can schedule massage appointments for 2 PM in the afternoon or can spend half a day getting purple-ified at the hair salon on a random Tuesday. But having that much freedom also makes it pretty difficult for me, someone with admittedly weak self-discipline in the first place, to prioritize things like going to the gym or eating at regular intervals.

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Because of the aforementioned HQ being on the West Coast thing, many of my colleagues and coworkers don’t get cracking until it’s noon over here. Which means it’s not uncommon for me to receive emails and notices as late as 9 or 10 PM. Which you wouldn’t inherently think is a bad thing, since I’ve never really been much of a morning person anyway and I do love being able to operate without an alarm clock, but it really does screw with my schedule, since the other people I work with here — my Yelpers, business owners, PR companies, media folks and whatnot — are obviously operating on Eastern Standard Time.

So by the time I roll out of bed around 9:30 AM or so (don’t hate me!), let the dogs out, feed them, brush my teeth, etc, there may already be a pile of work issues that need attention. So I immediately open my laptop and set to work on there, only to realize a few hours later (when my stomach finally starts to rumble) that I should probably eat something. Urk. Not so great, especially for someone who is a steadfast believer that eating breakfast is a key tenant of successful weight management.

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And I know what you’re thinking. Just get up earlier, dummy! If I got up earlier, I’d be able to take care of all that morning stuff AND eat breakfast before getting slammed with emails and having to dig into my calls for the day, right? Weeeeell, kind of. As mentioned, I’m gonna have stuff to deal with until fairly late into the night anyway, so getting up earlier really just ends up extending my workday even further. So, therein lies the REAL solution: I need to learn how to STOP WORKING. To close my laptop at a certain time, to stop checking my email, to realize that there is like a 0.1% chance that something is going to come up at 9:30 PM that needs IMMEDIATE resolution and can’t wait until morning. Because if I mastered the art of not working, it would probably be pretty easy to get myself back on a regular home office schedule, the kind where I start and stop work at normal times. (At least on non-event days, which would be better than nothing!)

Unfortunately, that’s much easier said than done, especially when you not only like what you do but really, truly want to be amazing at doing it. I mean, I’ve been trying for 10 months at this point to figure out the secret to shutting my mind off, flipping the “work” switch, and being able to find that delicious work/life balance, and so far… nada.

Alas, I’m just awful at self-regulating my work hours, and that is why I end up doing things like working on Sundays and obsessively checking my email before I go to bed. And just like I obviously stay on track with my weight loss best when I have the accountability of this blog and calorie counters like My Fitness Pal and a fitness tracker like my new Fitbit, I know that I need something to provide accountability for ensuring I don’t work myself into the ground. Maybe I should just set like 10 different silent alarms on my Fitbit so that it buzzes and scares the crap out of me (it does!) every time I should be doing something other than working, like eating breakfast or getting up from my desk to walk around.

I’ll be the first one to tell you that my lack of time management skills is one of the main reasons that blogging fell off the radar last year. And it’s definitely the reason that I still haven’t finished my second book (sorry guys…). And it is one of my go-to excuse for days I don’t make it to the gym or end up making some not so great food choices. “I’m too busy! I don’t have the time!”

I mean, even I know that’s BS. I just don’t know how to make the time. But I am working on it, promise. Maybe in another 10 months I’ll have made some progress, hahaha.

Bikini Season

In exactly two weeks from today, I will be on a plane with the lovely and amazing Anne, both of us heading to Boston for the Reach the Beach Relay race. The race takes place on the 18th and 19th (it’s an overnight race, in case you weren’t aware — eep!), and I fly back on the 20th. Then, I’m back at work on the 21st… for one day. Because the day after that, I’m headed to ST. MAARTEN!

I’m going back to this glorious Carribbean paradise (well, the beaches are paradise. The towns, not so much.) with my family to celebrate my brother-in-law’s graduation from medical school. It’s a little stressful when I think about the timeline of events as they approach: flying up, running my 3 legs of the relay, flying back, one day at work, flying out. Guff. Another added layer to this is that I’m ALSO starting two online classes this month as I work towards my potential teaching career.

All the stressful scheduling aside, however, I’m obviously very excited for both the race and this vacation (though I will admit, my anticipation for a week of lounging around on a pristine beach drinking frozen cocktails does edge out 24+ hours of sweaty blogger van-bonding. Sorry ladies. ;)). I’m especially looking forward to going back and getting some legit pictures of St. Maarten… and of myself, given that the last time I was there was Spring Break 2009.

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And the time before that, was the Christmas prior. Er, yeah.

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What am I reading here? It does not look like I am enjoying it, hahaha.

I have changed a lot since both of those trips — both physically and emotionally. Still, it’s a little difficult to look back on the pictures from this time period and keep myself level-headed about all the impending swimsuit-wearing on the horizon. I like to think that since I’ve started my weight loss journey, I have developed a modicum of bikini confidence, but with all my recent setbacks and gains, it’s hard not to lose myself in a place of negative self-talk. And with my history of disordered eating, that’s always dangerous, because it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump away from backsliding into crash- or starvation-dieting just so that I can be “bikini ready” (whatever that means).

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Last Summer

Even though I KNOW that is the least healthy and most ineffective way to lose weight, I know myself too. And I know I would justify it by saying it would just be for the trip, that I’d get back to doing things the healthy way afterward, stuff like that. It’s a slippery slope though, my friends. And as many of us already know, the ironic thing is that doing so probably wouldn’t result in me losing a single pound. In fact, I would probably gain a ton back instead, since eventually I would get so hungry that I would just binge. Vicious cycle, remember?

This is why it’s probably a really, really good thing that I do have the race right before this vacation. Even though the close timing of both trips has me slightly anxious, I know that if I didn’t have to train and fuel my body properly for the race, I would be all the more likely to succumb to the temptation of starving myself for this trip.

I think it’s progress that I am at least cognizant of my proclivity to fall victim to this kind of thinking. Knowing is half the battle, right? I fully intend on staying the course with my healthy weight loss “guidelines“, exercising as I have been, and participating in what is sure to be an epic racing experience. I still am planning on rocking my bikinis loud and proud on this trip (though I am admittedly packing a one-piece or two just in case I get a little too self-conscious of my tum, hehe), and even have a brand new (and hot pink!) retro-cut ‘kini (this one!) that I’m really looking forward to breaking out.

With summer and bikini season approaching, are you finding it harder to resist the temptation to drastically (and potentially unhealthily) change up your eating habits?

A Day in the Life

I’ve been seeing these kinds of posts all over the place lately (starting with Cassie’s extraordinarily detailed one about her impressive and far-busier-than-mine life, haha), and am totally jumping on the bandwagon. I always find these kinds of things fascinating, and thought that at least one of you might be interested in what a typical day is like for me these days (especially now that I’ve factored gym-time into the equation). Admittedly, I’m not that great at following an extremely rigid schedule. Things always tend to shift in one direction or the other. Still, there are definitely a few basic things that tend to stay the same day-in and day-out for me, so here’s a glimpse of what the average day might be like!

6:15 AM: My alarm goes off, blaring the cheerful Parks & Recreation theme song through my room. I unfortunately have to be at work extra early today, so it’s going off earlier than normal. I immediately silence it, and proceed to take a nine-minute nap (the length of the iPhone’s snooze feature).

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6:24 AM: With an audible groan, I extricate myself from the two schnauzer-shaped lumps on either side of my legs and peel myself out of bed. It’s straight to the bathroom where I turn on the shower, pop in my contacts, and brush my teeth.

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6:30 AM: I realize that I forgot to weigh myself yesterday, so I quickly hop on the scale before popping into the now-warm shower. It’s a non-hair-washing day, plus I’m heading the gym later, so I just quickly scrub down and rinse off. I am a master of the speed-shower, so I’m out in less than 5 minutes. Boom.

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6:35 AM: I deliberate in front of my closet for a couple of minutes before inevitably slipping a dress over damp-around-the-edges hair (blow drying is just time wasted, after all!).

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The thought of having to pair together a respectable looking outfit that consists of more than one continuous piece of clothing is simply too challenging before 7 AM. Success!

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6:38 AM: I throw some makeup on (on weekday mornings it’s usually just eyes: shadow, liner, mascara) and part my hair with my fingers in an attempt to look presentable.

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My last act before leaving the sanctity of my bedroom is to rouse the hibernating beasts still curled up on the bed. Lucky mutts.

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6:40 AM: To the kitchen! I let the dogs out back and scrounge around the kitchen for potential breakfast items. The fridge yields one last pineapple Chobani and a frozen waffle, which I throw in the toaster. I also pull out my dinner leftovers from the night before to bring for lunch.

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6:45 AM: I let the dogs back in, feed them breakfast, and hightail it out the door with the waffle between my teeth.

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6:50 AM: Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work we go! Traffic is surprisingly heavy considering how early it is, but these months spent commuting into the city have turned me into a douchebag, so I jut in and out of the merge lanes and make it to the office in pretty good time.

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7:15 AM: Since I’m one of two people that are actually in the office at this outrageously early hour, it’s pretty dark inside. I flip on all the lights and head back to the kitchen to fill up my water bottle. Once I’m back at my desk, I break open the yogurt I had hastily tossed into my purse. I look around only to realize that despite having JUST been in the kitchen, I did not bring a spoon back with me. I have a fork at my desk though, and I know from past-precedence that it will work juuuuust fine. This is not the first time this has happened. Laziness wins again!

The next few hours are full of work-related boringness, so let’s skip ahead, shall we?

11:30 AM: I don’t normally eat lunch yet, but since my schedule has been skewed to the early side, I’m already starving. I eat my lunch at my desk and get a few more things done. More work-related boringness ensues. It is a loooooong day.

4:15 PM: Quitting time! Time to hit the road and pray that traffic isn’t bad.

4:16 PM: Traffic sucks. My normal exit is backed up to high heaven thanks to an accident, so I get off at an earlier one. Because it’s already HOV time on 66 though, I’m forced to take a detour through Arlington. I’m mildly freaking out because I’m not that familiar with driving through this area, but I guess it beats sitting in gridlock.

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4:55 PM: I had a few errands to run today, but unfortunately my detour threw me off schedule. Since I most needed to stop off at the dermatologist’s office to pick up an itemized receipt to submit for my Flex Spending Account, that’s what I went with. Luckily, it’s only a few blocks away from…

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5:00 PM: … the gym! Normally I would have gone straight here from work. I’ve been putting in about an hour here most trips, but my legs are still really sore from my last session on Wednesday (sad, I know) though, so I only make it 40 minutes. I do get to try out the arm exercise from the Hunger Games workout though!)

5:45 PM: I arrive at home. I am greeted by loud and excited schnauzers, give them a few snuggles, and spend a few minutes chatting with my roommate Erin. Then it’s time to head upstairs to shower (again). I am of the unfortunate breed that must shower after working out — that’s how much I sweat (TMI? What’s that?). At least this time I wash my hair? Ahahaha.

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6:30 PM: Squeaky clean yet again, I head back downstairs to give the dogs their dinner, then root around in the fridge myself. I desperately need to go grocery shopping (what else is new?), so it’s a quick game of pantry roulette that results in salad and eggs. It makes me feel like I’m in college again, haha.

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7:00 PM – 11:00 PM: The rest of the night is spent editing the photos for this very post, pre-writing it, watching Netflix, and greedily pawing through my new issue Glamour that just arrived.

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Not only does it feature my new girlcrush Jennifer Lawrence, but it has an extra special bonus inside too!

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Ahhhh, Ian Somerholder, my not-so-secret Vampire Diaries love! Best issue ever.

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11:00 PM: Bedtime for me! We’re right back where we started. I crawl under the covers and pass out. It all starts again in the morning… but at least it’s Friday!

Have a great weekend!