Wednesday: 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


2:30 AM - An early night to bed means an early night's rise. Coffee in bed and an hour of catching up on what I missed out on from the night before. 

3:30 AM - Gym session - Chest, Back & Abs for an hour and an hour of the stairmaster and YouTube videos (double dipping that productivity!)

5:30 AM - Gym session wrapped up, get home for grub and a quick clean up.

6:00 AM - Little over three hours to catch up on emails and write content for this website. 

9:30 AM - Get to the day job (High Sierra Industries) and do a quick check-in with the colleagues that are heading out to the neighboring city to deliver Pre-ETS services (described a little more in this post).

Side note: It's always tricky handing something off like this. For the past 2 months I had been delivering the content alongside a few other colleagues, but with such an ambitious schedule of slaying tasks it has to be something I learn to do well. We've setup some check-in components within the system to check on the integrity of the service and make curriculum revisions - something that I've been honing in and getting much better at the past 5 years.  

10:30 AM - Wish the team good luck as they leave and take off the other direction to an elementary classroom observation. 

11:00 AM -  Arrive for a classroom observation, but logistics get in the way. It's not typical that this happens, but it does from time to time. So I head back to the office for a quick catch-up session.

11:30 AM - One other component of my job includes working with some of the other department leaders to help organize our process for goal-setting and goal attainment. There's a lot of people that go into making the process happen. What I bring in is a little systems design and excel savy to build a solution with the executives that allows for daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly review (based on the needs of the department leader) and a required monthly reporting system to the leaders of the organization. I use this time to check in with a few of the department leaders on where we're at in the process ad help troubleshoot a few measurement questions. 

12:30 PM - Time to take off to another classroom observation.

1:00 PM - Classroom observation. 

2:30 PM - Classroom wrapped up and head back to the office to get ready for a follow-up class for a training called Effective Classroom Interactions (ECI).

4:00 PM - Deliver a 2-hour follow-up of ECI. 

Effective Classroom Interactions 

Quick pause to describe this a bit. Around 5 years ago High Sierra Industries began working with local administrators in the Reno, NV area to create a curriculum that taught basics of behavior analysis and learning science through an interactive 15-hour course. A lot of people made this happen, and I was not on the original development team for the curriculum. Fast forward three years and I did inherit the project through a role-change that had me focusing on the systems required to get our products out into the community and into other organizations. In the past three years, we've trained approximately 300 special education teachers and paraprofessionals on areas of behavior analysis including motivation, prompting, precision measurement, conflict resolution, and data-based decision making. The results have generally shown that we are making an impact and that there is a need for more training in the areas of language and data-based decision making. I worked with various stakeholders to get us in a position to create two new courses in those areas, in addition to seeking matching funds to double our reach ($40,000 USD). I must give a shout out to all the HSI people that make this happen - there's a lot of them!

6:00 PM - Wrap up the course, continue chatting with some of the participants of the course and pack up to leave. 

6:30 PM - Quick check-in with the CEO, whom I report to, about the status of a couple projects and then back out the door.

7:00 PM - Arrive to a banquet dinner for the Bishop Manogue Catholic High School Girls Basketball team. I worked with them as a Data Strategist this year - here's a little blurb on where that project is currently at, and I'm working with colleagues in the Dissemination of Behavior Analysis (DBA) Special Interest Group of the Association of Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) to host a 2-hour event centered around what I did with the team and where I'm going with the project. 

9:30 PM - Wrap up the banquet and head home with one last phone call on an inquiry to provide some consultation and professional development services. 

10:30 PM - Finish phone call and knock out one last round of phoning. 

11:00 PM - Passout. Hard. 


  1. Indirect students served that day ~65 students for 1-hour each in a 10:1 ratio
  2. Completed a solid ~21 hour day
  3. A solid 9 hours and 18 minutes on my phone (includes all active screen time, which slightly inflates this measure, but also counts things like watching YouTube on the stairmaster)
  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. Spent some time with the coaching staff and girls of the BMCHS Girls Basketball team. They're awesome people, and it's an overlap of two passions of mine, behavior analysis and basketball, which makes for an invigorating experience everytime.
  7. Made it to the gym and started getting back into a real sleep schedule again.


  1. Anyone who pulls weird hours or long hours knows that it's really hard functioning the next couple days after you pull close-to or all-nighters. Caffeine and aligning the right task sequences can help me avoid this, but it still weighed on my day a bit. 
  2. Can't really complain too much - life is awesome, the people around me are, and I woudn't want to be doing anything differently. 

Final Thoughts:

Preparation and networking are so important. If it weren't for the countless nights of reading extracurricular materials in behavior analysis and related disciplines then I would have never been prepared to pull days like this off. From communicating effectively through the internet, to "selling" my ideas on classroom observations in which the teacher can easily say "you're not welcome in here," to explaining human performance to the parents that attended the banquet, I owe most of these opportunities to all the hard work and past conversations to date that I've had with colleagues and non-believers of Behavior Analysis. When you're prepared and can use metaphors and examples that people can relate to, AND your results are effective, people get REALLY interested in what you have to say about behavioral technologies. I hope you experience similar things throughout your day - glad to chat if you have any questions or ideas you'd like to share.

-Go do something great today-

To be continued.