Moving on from dating for the time being and back to what this blog is supposed to be about – my fight against life-long low self-esteem issues, I return now to my progress in Melanie Fennell’s book Overcoming Low Self Esteem. The next section I want to talk about is the Daily Activity Diary.
This part of the book came up at exactly the right time for me. It was early summer and I’d spent the last few months going to a succession of interviews where I was told “great candidate but not enough experience” and of course this was increasingly getting me down. I was so desperate to leave the area and return to the part of the country I grew up in (far various reasons I no longer feel that sense of urgency but still want to leave my present job sooner rather than later). I felt tied down to a daily grind that I took no pleasure in.
Once more, I do not want to go into too much detail and deprive Fennell of an income but this section was all about the awareness of your daily activities. Rather than thinking of everything as a chore, think of all of your daily activities and break them down into categories of “Pleasure” and “Mastery”. Keep a diary for one or two weeks, noting what you have done on an hour by hour basis. Make a mental note of how each activity made me feel and rate the attributes on a scale of 1-10.
Pleasure – Things you enjoy
Mastery – Things that make you feel you accomplished something
For example, here is the entry from the Sunday of week 1 of the diary I kept:
0700-0800: Sleep. P5. M3
0800-0900: Sleep. P5. M3
0900-1000: Woke up around 0940. P7. M2
1000-1100: Had breakfast of a bacon and cheese bagel and coffee. P9. M4. Had a warm shower. P10. M3
1100-1200: Checked emails. Responded to some comments on Facebook. Surfed internet for a while P6. M3
1200-1300: Had a tidy up of my room, went through post, made bed. P4. M9
1300-1400: Watched Tennis P10. M0. (I guess this must have been the day of the Wimbledon Final because it seems I watched a lot of Tennis today!)
1400-1500: Watched Tennis and ate dinner P10. M0
1500-1600: Watched Tennis P10. M0.
1600-1700: Watched Tennis P10. M0.
1700-1800: Watched Tennis P10. M0.
1800-1900: Came into bedroom to check emails, surf internet and then work through self-help book. P5. M10. I haven’t picked up the book in a few weeks so it felt productive getting to do some more exercises
1900-2000: More self help book P5. M9
2000-2100: Started filling out this sheet. P5. M10. Starting to see patterns made me appreciate the day to day tasks that I do. Also made me think about how to plan my evenings. Made supper
2100-2200: Made and ate supper P8. M7. Watched some of Wallander while I ate. P8. M0
2200-2300: Messed around on internet P7. M3. Made tomorrow’s lunch. P2. M7. Had a shower. P5. M5
2300-0700: Read until 2330. P9. M3. Afterwards, sleep P5 M3
I noted everything and thought about the pleasure/mastery in everything even right down to how much I enjoyed the coffee I had for breakfast that morning. I carried out this task for two weeks until I really got to understand that my daily drudge needn’t be such a chore. That I had to take note of the small pleasures and the small achievements. My biggest pleasure that day was the Tennis. My biggest achievement was working on my self-help book.
Keeping this record also helped me to plan my time better. I spent three hours last night applying for jobs so tonight I’m going to eat a tub of ice cream and watch a film (for example). It made me focus on striking a balance between doing things I need to do and taking a break to do things that I enjoy doing. The former is good for my mental health for the sense of accomplishment, the latter for the sense of enjoyment and relaxation.