TIL 12: Doing All the Things


… or rather, not! Read this article on Zen Habits, and from the title onwards I was thinking “This is me all over!” Signed up to the gym, a class (online), and not gone; stacks of eBooks unread, guitar unplayed, art and craft supplies untouched…! Argh!! All those good intentions never materialise – as the article asks, what’s wrong with me?!

The answer, apparently, is an over-abundance of optimism: we think we can do more than we can (2-5 times more, and I suspect I’m at the 5!) and that the things we do will take less time than they actually do. We forget about all the little things in life that take up time – chores, eating, etc. And we end up doing ‘comfortable’ busy work as it’s easier to do than focusing on getting over the resistance of the Project.

Leo suggests blocking out exactly what ‘important’ tasks you’ll do in the (at most) 3-4 hours of time you really have in a day – and then cut it in half, as everything will be taking longer than you think! Sure, you can cut out TV etc, but that’s not going to free up as much time as you think – and you DO need some downtime unless you really fancy hitting burn out!

timetableSo I guess it’s a case of being less vague. Not “I’ll do a, b, c, d,… tomorrow evening” but a more realistic, “I’d do this between 8-8:30pm”. Hmm. Sensible, but a bit restrictive for me, maybe? Still… merit in that. And yes, it does stop the out of control to do lists if you have to put actual time slots against things – you soon discover that you’ll have about 20 seconds to do each task unless you stay up to 4am! Plus, you can start monitoring expected vs. actual duration, and get better at estimating how long certain things will take.

The other tips include setting up a good environment – although that to me doesn’t mean the same as the suggested finding an accountability partner. I know in myself that the quickest way to make me not want to do something is to turn it into a ‘must’ – I need to know I can wiggle out, guilt-free (ish). But hey, at least I know that about myself!

And the final point is to acknowledge that you’re going to want to shy away from doing the stuff that you’ve otherwise flagged as important for yourself and make excuses like, “Oh, but I really really have to do the dishes and reorganise the DVDs.” Hmm! But that’s where the Unprocrastination Challenge came in, I guess – maybe it’s time I stopped using that for getting chores done (as important as sorting the insurance was!) and use it for the things I swerve despite really wanting to do them, be that building an exercise habit or something crafty.


One response »

  1. Pingback: TIL 19: Cognitive Bandwidth | diary of a scanner

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