Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Five principles I use to plan my day

Make the day enjoyable!
Doing my work outdoor with a hot drink.
Have you ever invested a lot of effort to get into your dream college but then sloughed through it because there were just too many interesting classes and you ended up taking more than you had time for?  Or waking up feeling nervous because of the many items on your to-do list?  Or move from task to task with such precision in time planning that you felt like you were doing a combo move in a computer arcade game?

Well, if that is you, you are definitely not alone because that is me too.  Summer term has been pretty busy for me as class schedules are condensed to accommodate this shorter term.  Moreover, other demands for my time--like family, church, friends--added to the tension.

To make matter worse, I know that I should enjoy the journey and not be caught up with getting things done.  It can be really enjoyable to slowly mull over a topic taught in class, do the class readings in a park with a cup of coffee in hand, and then take time to reflect and blog about the topic.

The reality though is often different from this ideal.  Given the many things screaming for my time, my temptation is to squeeze as many tasks as I can into a day.  That makes enjoying the journey more difficult.  Moreover, sometimes when I do have free time on hand, I feel a nagging feeling that I am wasting time, and that I should think about what task I can complete next.

I feel the key to resolving this tension between getting things done and enjoying the journey is to establish some principles for planning my daily schedule.  This relates to my life architecture.  Here are the five principles I distilled after untangling my thoughts as I wrote this post.

1. First things first; some things will have to go.  I have finite time and energy, so I cannot have everything!  Don't fall into the greed trap.
2. Make the day enjoyable!  If it looks like a breathless schedule, then drop some tasks so that it is more achievable.  Don't be overly ambitious.  The journey will not be enjoyable ALL the time, there will be moments when it will be a mad rush.  My aim is to make them the exception rather than the norm.
3. Leave half of the day unplanned to leave room for the unexpected (this one is tough! I'm still working on it)
4. Minimise switching of tasks in a day...focus on at most 2 topics to minimize "memory thrashing"
5. Better planning, squeezing time from between events, multi-tasking can help me do more, but beware of making more room just so that it gets filled up with other busyness...

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