Thursday: A Week into a Behavior Analyst's Hustle and Grind

This is part of a 7-piece series that highlights the dedication and experiences that go into just one week of my life as a behavior analyst at the present time. Read the other posts here.

Author: Ryan O'Donnell, MS, BCBA

Author: Ryan O'Donnell, MS, BCBA


4:30 AM - Alarm sounds, coffee in hand and off to the gym for a quick workout sesh. 

I don't think of myself as an exercise expert by any means. I rely on a personal trainer (who is also a behavior analyst by chance) and nutritionist (which I take suggestions from, I do not follow that strictly haha) to help me out, but I do attribute a lot of my ability to being able to physically handle long days to consistent workout routines. It's a place where I can put on the heaviest tunes that I can find, and just check out and think about everything, all while being laser-focused on the routine in the gym. It's also a great place to double-dip on the productivity.

I've been mentioning at the bottom of these posts how much "on time" my phone screen captures, and it's something I kind of monitor. A typical day is around 4-5 hours of time spent with my phone screen on, whether that's leaving it open while waiting for a text, reading content, testing things prior to the heading to this website, or bingeing on a little YouTube or Netflix. One area that I've been really into the past 8 or so months has been YouTube channels that are creatively documenting the journeys of businessmen and entrepreneurs. This has been so much of my life as of late, that I couldn't get to all of the tasks that I wanted to do and it was becoming a barrier to achieving things I really valued, but clearly not as much as these YouTube channels. The solution? A few days a week I only watch the content while on the Stairmaster (need to get ready to hike big mountains), and it's been really useful. It's only been 3-4 hours a week stepping away and watching YouTube, but it's freed up another 4 hours to be really productive (YouTube calls me during my peak performance hours usually).  Anyhow, it's the little life hacks in life that make things easier or allow me to accomplish more of what I want to do, and that's a pretty cool byproduct of learning about behavior analysis and using it in your own life. Here are a couple channels I frequent: 

6:30 AM - Wrap up the gym. Quick shower and work we go!

8:30 AM - Wrap up the morning to-do list, emails, and prioritize for the day. Jump straight into a meeting discussing the internet needs in our new building. Some relentless executives have spent the last 2 years raising close to $3M USD to build a new facility to house some of our work at High Sierra Industries. 

9:00 AM - Fuel the company car to take off to some school observations for the professional development courses and Pre-ETS services that I mentioned in past blog. (Check it out below)

9:40 AM - Wrap up a quick conference call en route to a meeting and walk straight into a planning meeting to bring on a new school for Pre-Employment Transition Services. Basically, a 10:1 service helping teach any student in high school with a 504 or Individualized Education Plan (IEP) how to self-advocate and line up what they want to do after high school - really fun work to implement! 

10:30 AM - Meeting wraps up, successfully, and off to pick up the colleagues at the office for a site visit to a school in our professional development course. 

11:00 AM - Classroom visit begins. Awesome class, awesome teachers, and just provide some suggestions on how to further their system and make it a little more efficient, as they already have a pretty great setup going on. 

12:30 PM - Pitstop at Chipotle.

1:00 PM -  Stop by for a second classroom observation, but staffing changes means I'll have to come back another day.

1:20 PM - Back in the office, with an unexpected 2 hours to slay tasks. 

3:30 PM - Head to the next building to prepare for another follow-up class for our professional development course for special education teachers and paraprofessionals. 

4:00 PM - Everyone arrives and we teach!

6:30 PM - Class is finished, cleaned up for the next day, and head out the door. 

7:00 PM - Back at the home office, with dinner in hand and pretty exhausted, but time to refuel and see how the website launch is holding up.

7:30PM - Feedback starts rolling in from the other "producer" or "marketer" (?) of this event, Melissa Engasser. People are loving the website and the event concept, and we have a quick 30-minute phone call to plan the schedule for releasing content, and who we are going to start to reach out to personally about joining the event. Oh, and ticket sales start rolling in, as well as some love on social media. You can check it out below. 

10:00 PM - Wrap up fixing a few issues on our website and promotional materials that are getting ready to head out on various outlets. 

11:00 PM - Crawl into bed, complete a short phone sesh, and fall asleep phone in hand sometime around 11:30 PM. 


  1. I didn't work with any students but I did line up offering services to an additional 80-100 children, which was pretty awesome. 
  2. Completed a solid ~20 hour day
  3. A solid 8 hours and 48 minutes on my phone (includes all active screen time)
  4. Completed ~16-ish hours of work related to behavior analysis and dissemination of our beautiful science
  5. Met all my day job expectations, as well as my additional project goals for the day
  6. I got to co-teach in the afternoon with Cameron Green pretty closely. It's really fun when you get to know someone well enough to tackle questions and content with a novel group of students (in this case teachers and paraprofessionals) and immediately being able to fluently answer all questions and see that "aha!" moment in all of their faces as you teach them about how to influence their practice with behavior analysis. We were able to play off each other's skill sets for about an hour, and it was one of those teaching moments that most teachers live for... =)
  7. Made it to the gym and oh so close to a real sleep schedule again.


  1. I like to schedule and plan my days out a lot. I spent two weeks basically planning out the first half of 2017 in December of 2016. It's the only way to be able to really keep up on what needs to be accomplished when. So things like a staff change in a school is something that happens, and I can plan for, but it's sometimes hard to remember that when you have that extra 2 hours like I had today that I really need to keep on getting ahead in another area, because it's definitely going to catch up with me if I don't. I don't see that much as an issue, just that when a little change of plans occurs, it's sometimes hard to not opt for the break, but to pick up the next tasks that needs slayed. 

Final Thoughts:

I hope that sharing this has been of value to you in some way. It's been nice to reflect on all the hard work and all of the fun events that occur in just one short week. Thanks to all my colleagues - you make these things all that much better, and I really wouldn't be doing any of this without your help, guidance, and feedback. 

-I hope your day is awesome-

To be continued.