Susan Zhang’s Self-Care Routine: “I tend to keep a simple to-do list.”

Susan Zhang is the Product Localisation Team Lead at Canva, second year PhD student and author of Life Outside My Comfort Zone.

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What does self-care mean to you?

Self-care means 1) taking a pause before jumping into it and 2) considering the impact on myself as equal to the outside world. It really means being true to myself and acknowledging feelings of that moment, whether it’s good or bad.

How do you know when you’re feeling stressed or burnt out?

Earlier in my career, there were times such as project dues, client calls, and all-hands presentations that would all of a sudden emerge in my mind like a mirage when I woke up in the morning. It felt like a 100 pounds behemoth was sitting right above my chest.

Do you have a regular self-care routine? If so, what does it look like?

Yes, I have two efficacious solutions that work well for me. One is planned and the other leaves for spontaneous situations. Over the years I noticed most of my stress came from the mounting workload from multiple projects requiring actions and attention at the same time, which could be from both personal and professional tasks. I use the Eisenhower matrix (Canva template to use)  to categorise daily tasks:

At the end of the day, I will review the matrix if I have completed the ‘DO IT’ tasks, if not, make plans before calling it for the day to avoid stress, otherwise my brain will keep thinking of it. Refresh the full matrix to prepare for the next day. This exercise gives me peace of mind, a sense of confidence and having things under control, which almost guarantees a good night’s sleep.

When unexpected things happen, I would intentionally go make a coffee or tea while digesting all the context that I just received. This is a simple but imperative self-care routine I have turned into a habit over the years. It prevents me from jumping into things too quickly and overlooking some of the important aspects. It also allows me to steady myself, think outside the box, breathe, and then get on to it.

What bumps you off your self-care routine and how do you get back on course?

It’s easy to get carried away when you have a lot on your plate or are on holiday (best kind of self-care). I tend to keep a simple to-do list or priority list just so that I won’t forget something and prevent stress.

Where do you go for inspiration, ideas or tools for self-care?

For inspiration I like to explore seasonal exhibitions in museums and galleries; my best ideas (book ideas, PhD research topics, etc.) tend to form while in the bathtub (with two or three rubber ducks of course).  

Before you go…

Self-Care is a content series exploring the different self-care routines and habits of people from all walks of life. Get in touch with us today if you’d like to talk about your self-care routine.

About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.