What are your priorities?

We’re two weeks in now and the priorities we set now will determine how the rest of our season goes. Fortunately, we can always shift our goals - but let’s set some good ones sooner than later.

My Priorities:

  • My sleep: When I don’t get enough sleep it severely impacts my ability to be happy and healthy. If I’m not happy and healthy, everything else shuts down. I went to my doctor with maladies a few years ago and the first thing she asked was “how is your sleep.” I know with robots + homework + school + decompression that it’s hard to get enough sleep. Catch up on your sleep when you can. Sacrifice lower priorities for this (ie don’t be in the shop 6 days a week till 9p)
  • My mental/physical health: Sleep is a subset of this, and I want to be extremely clear that sleep has the highest impact on my ability to make sure that I am the Best Katie I Can Be. My mental and physical health also require things like:
    • eating a veggie every once in a while
    • drinking water
    • going for a walk when I’m stressed
    • understanding when an activity is not beneficial (have I been bashing my head for an hour over some line of code at work? Maybe I should do something else for a minute and come back to it later… I wish I had done this chem homework in high school)
  • My Friends and Family - Is my dog taken care of? Am I honoring my commitments to my SO and my friends? Am I making time to see/talk to friends that make me happier? When’s the last time I talked to my mom?
  • Work - Alright so, real talk, this is only here because this is where school should be but I’m not in school. Work is important because its how I Contribute To Society and also how I Pay My Rent. School is important because it is your passport to your future.
  • Hobbies (aka robotics)

Robotics season can get stressful fast - for both students and mentors (mentors can get stressed what?!?). Please remember that there are so many things so much more important than robotics, starting with YOU.

Is robotics + school giving you anxiety? Are you experiencing an existential dread? Find someone you can talk to - your teammates, your mentors, a counselor, a teacher, your parents, etc. There is nothing wrong with you if you’re experiencing stress or depression and you definitely do not need to experience these things on your own.

What are your priorities? How does your team ensure that its members aren’t sacrificing themselves for robotics? How can we help each-other?

In the words of one of my mentors:
Be Happy. Be You.


If you’re struggling with any of the above please do not be afraid to seek help.

It can be hard to admit, and even harder to recognize, if you’re struggling with mental health. I know it was hard for me.


i would suggest this not only to robotics if you see someone like that invite them to join your team or come and hang out with you because that sense of being welcomed can have a huge impact on people it can change peoples lives


Family : Wife, son, extended family, and pets

That’s my ranked priorities. (work is only on there as it allows me to do the other 3).

A good balance is key to a happy life. find your balance and don’t let people tell you you’re wrong.


My priorities this season have definitely been sleep, health, school, robots.

No sleep, the other three fall apart. If I don’t work to keep myself mentally in a decent place, esp. the physiological effects (enough sunlight, water, good food, and again, sleep), then my mental state degrades even more. Seeing friends during these cold months is part of this for sure, even if they’re not (and honestly especially if they’re not) robot friends. School means I’m still going for a degree so I gotta put in the legwork for it as much as I can. Robots… really is about as doing as little as reasonable as possible.

This season at almost week 3 of build (yikes), somehow feels more intense and burnout inducing than past ones, and whether it’s me wearing out or the season being more intense, I had to re-evaluate my boundaries and where they lay as a mentor. I can’t help others if I can’t help myself.

Mentors and students alike… take care of yourself, you have to live with yourself constantly, and are always your own first line of advocacy.


This reminds me - something I’m susceptible to is perfectionism*. I had unattainable standards of what it meant to be a “perfect” robotics student when I was in high school, I would stress myself out trying to hit every criteria and be devastated when I couldn’t do everything.

When I was in college mentoring (poor choice), I was telling my friend who didn’t do robotics about whatever the current drama was and she look at me and said, “so? It’s just robotics.” I’m sure I disagreed with her at the time but it was a moment that really brought a lot of clarity to me in the long run.

One reason I think robots can exacerbate stress and mental health is because, by and large, we’re all passionate about it and its hard to find the balance between “I care so much about this” and “I care too much about this.”

*I’m not a perfectionist by any means but, like many others, I can run into perfectionist tendencies.

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