Week Seven: Mindful Organizing – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Week Seven: Mindful Organizing

One guest speaker who particularly stood out to me (although all of the speakers gave very insightful presentations!) was Dr. Gloryvee Fonseca-Bolorin, who spoke about mindful organizing and planning. In her presentation, she discussed how to incorporate self-reflection and awareness of one’s emotional and mental state into planning processes. Rather than simply listing every single thing that has to be done on a to-do list, which can be overwhelming and impractical, she suggested making clear priorities and goals, and breaking those goals into specific tasks. Most useful to me, she recommended specifying the effort level of each task, and balancing this with one’s current state of mind. I often put all of the tasks I can think of on my list, and find myself exhausted after crossing off only two or three. The incomplete list then becomes a source of further stress. Through Dr. Fonseca-Bolorin’s method, the to-do lists become possible to complete, and it is easier to ensure that the most important tasks are done when they need to be. I appreciated the specific, actionable steps that Dr. Fonseca-Bolorin provided, because they make it easier for me to begin incorporating mindfulness into my daily life. In fact, the strategies brought up in this talk have been especially helpful these past couple of weeks, as I try to balance work, other fellowship tasks, and a math class on top of my social and emotional wellbeing.

Additionally, Dr. Fonseca-Bolorin framed mindfulness as “energy efficient,” which particularly resonated with me. When I get very busy, I often find myself believing that I lack the time for mindfulness or self-care. When I’m stressed, I tell myself that taking a moment to check in with my mental state is too time-consuming and not immediately helpful, and so I inevitably try to ignore my emotions and push forward. Dr. Fonseca-Bolorin presented mindfulness in a different light: the way she explained it, mindfulness and taking stock of one’s emotions makes it possible for us to accomplish more, at a higher standard. Although I recognize that striving to constantly be productive and efficient is giving in to a hustle culture somewhat (as Ms. Tiffany Brown discussed in her amazing talk yesterday), the feeling of needing to constantly be working is rather ingrained in my mindset. By seeing mindfulness as energy-efficient and a way to better complete the tasks that are making me stressed, I am more likely to give myself the grace and time needed to step back and reevaluate my emotions and organizational strategies.

2 thoughts on “Week Seven: Mindful Organizing”

  1. Owen McAlister-Lopez

    Claire! I also really liked this guest speaker! I participated a lot in this discussion, as you may have noticed, because I’m a big fan of lists and organizing my time. I can also relate to the daunting ‘incomplete list’ dilemma. I appreciated the focus Dr. Fonseca-Bolorin put on the word ‘energy’ all throughout her presentation. We should consider our energy levels when planning our time and we should take care of our energy levels when they are low. By being conscious of our energy, we may find that we have more energy to do things. I think that’s what Dr. Fonseca-Bolorin maybe tried to get at in the end. Instead of aiming for highest ‘productivity’ days, maybe we could set the goal as conserving and maintaining high levels of energy!

  2. Hi Claire this guest presentation was very helpful for me too! I really related to your comment about listing every single task you have to do only to get discouraged even when you’re making progress. I took me a long time to be able to create realistic to-do list that leave space for free time and mental/emotional recharge. I loved that you incorporated Tiffany Brown’s discussion about hustle culture too because our strive for higher productivity goals can so easily turn unrealistic and harmful.

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