Don’t become frustrated! Re-plan!

Yesterday I became really frustrated because I was behind my writing goals of finishing a chapter. My stomach started to hurt and I became nervous. I felt overwhelmed thinking how much there are still to be done before finishing the chapter.

I thought that I could be able to finish it by Monday but I realized that there are way too many things to do. I am traveling on Tuesday and I will not be able to work next week. So I wanted to finish it before traveling.

I went for a walk outside and while I was walking and having an inner discussion with myself, I started thinking:

“Ok, what am I doing now? I am putting myself in a way of thought that it is not helping me to remain productive. I must use the strategies that I learned last month, e.g. write down my goal and my tasks!”


So I returned to the house, grabed a paper and a pen and wrote down my writing goal, e.g. the chapter on Identity. Then I wrote down a list of tasks that are left to do for accomplishing my goal.

After finishing the task-list, I estimated how much time I need for doing each task (e.g. half day, 1 day).

Then I looked at my calendar. I am traveling on Tuesday and return the next Tuesday. During these days I will not be able to work… Or at least I’ll not be able to write. So I decide that although I don’t work during weekends I will make an exception for this time, since I will not work the next week.

I wrote down how many working days I had til leaving: Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

The next step was to put working tasks in each day. For example:

Friday: Re-write the section about the discursive nature of identity

Saturday: Rewrite section about the contextual and relational nature of identity…and so on…  (I didn’t put too many tasks, but just those that it is realistic to handle and finish in a day).

My working tasks can’t all be assigned during my remaining working days. Although I don’t enjoy it, I accept that I can not finish the chapter until Monday, at least not in a satisfactory way …

However, there is no reason to feel bad about it… I am learning to make more realistic estimations so next time I will make a better working plan!

After I finished writing down my new working plan I felt relaxed. The fact that I wrote them down and  had re-plan my working schedule made me feel again that I have the control of my work.

Yes, I was behind my previous working schedule. This doesn’t mean that I was not working but it shows that I hadn’t made a realistic plan from the beginning.

I made my initial working plan based on my whishes to finish my chapter as soon as possible, not based on reality and what I actually can write each day.

The goal is not to pressure yourself to do more things that you can handle.

If you haven’t made a realistic plan and you have assigned too many tasks in each day, the solution isn’t to push yourself to executive this non-realistic program, neither to feel bad because you can not execute it.

The important is to learn from your own experiences! The most important is not to be harsh on yourself…

Re-plan! Make the necessary changes in your initial plan, be more realistic and start working again with passion, energy and motivation!


You didn’t fail on your previous working program but you haven’t made a realistic working plan from the beginning. So learn from it! The goal is to realize what you can actually do and sketch a realistic plan!

From my experience, learning myself and realizing what I can actually do during a day and during a week is not an easy task. It’s an ongoing process and it entails observing me as an outsider. By figuring out my working habits, and learning how I work, I will be able to make more realistic working plans in the future. These are my steps:

 1) I write down my daily tasks for a week (Monday to Friday)

2) At the end of the day I check what I have accomplished and see what’s left.

If it is necessary I re-plan my tasks but only if I realize that I really have to.

(Note: I don’t use re-planning to cover my procrastination, i.e. procrastinate and saying to myself “it’s ok; I will re-plan my daily goals”. I re-plan only when I actually work and see that although I work hard, still I can’t achieve them, i.e. they are not realistic goals so I have to rearrange my goals.)

3) I keep notes of the distractions that during the day make me work less or to be less concentrated.

I noticed, for example, two things. First, if I start my working day by checking mails, the news, etc, I find it more difficult to work after. Instead it is easier to work if I start my day by actually working. In this case I check my mails, news, etc before/during/after  lunch time,.

The second thing is  the quality and amount of sleep. If I have 8 hours of good sleep, then I weak up fresh and I have more energy for working. (this means I should stop forgetting to do my night inhalation with asthma medicine!)

4) At the end of my working day, I write down my impressions of the day.

For example, tired; bored; active; full of energy, and why I felt like this (e.g. I made a long brake that distracted me or I didn’t have the 5’ break every 25’ according to pomodoro, or any other reason).

5) Keep notes of when and why I had to replan my working schedule.

If I learn by the mistakes I am doing, I will be able to make better estimations in the future.

These are my own personal experiences of course. What is helpful for me, doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone. However, I think by learning yourself you will be able to make more realistic working plans in the future.

So learn yourself, learn from your experiences, and next time you’ll make a more realistic working plan. It is an ongoing, learning process!

The most important is not stop working because you let your frustration and stress overwhelm you! Re-plan and go back in action!

Well, this is my recent experience on planning and re-planning! Which are your experiences? Did it ever happen to you that you had to re-plan? How did you felt? How do you deal with it?




Filed under Managing time, Writing

4 responses to “Don’t become frustrated! Re-plan!

  1. 1 Year Recovery

    I go through this all the time. But I am learning to give myself permission to have my “off days.” Sure, it’s not the most productive way to finish your chapters, but it’s necessary for your mental health.

    I like that you write down what distracts you in order to avoid that next time. I find that I have an understanding of what distracts me and that is everything at home. So, I have to leave the space for a more productive space, like the library. But even at the library, I have to give myself permission to have breaks and do enjoyable things so that I can stay productive. I.e. for every 2 hours, I get a 1/2 hour break to stream youtube, read a book or blog. I find that it keeps me going.

  2. Sorry for the late answer but I was on holidays 🙂
    Thanks for sharing your experiences!
    I agree that it is very important to have breaks during which we do enjoyable things so that we will stay productive!
    I like your working-plan (2 hours work and half hour break). It’s like my pomodoro technique!

  3. Pingback: How to start studying after holidays: set up you island-goal! | The PhD…"war"

  4. Pingback: Three stages of self-reflection for enhancing daily productivity | The PhD…"war"

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