|Today I am officially banning those behaviors in myself that waste my time or that make me angry at myself. To me, there is nothing worse than having a day like today, where nothing except the grocery shopping was accomplished. These days make me feel bad about my work, and those feelings are productivity-killers in and of themselves. I like the work I do, and I just want to have a lot of days where I can actually DO it without engaging in these self-destructive, annoying behaviors.
List of Self-Destructive Behaviors That Will Be Stopped:
- When I start a project that seems small (e.g., proofreading a paper, conducting a search for literature, compiling data in small chunks), I often finish it halfway, thinking that it will be easy to finish later. That is an awful trap: if I put it off, I often don't start the project again until I'm staring a deadline right in the face, and by the time I restart the project I have to re-teach myself how to do it. From here on out, small projects will be finished all the way through.
- When I see something small that needs to be accomplished, I don't do it, thinking that I'll do it later. Prime example: putting away the breakfast dishes. I hate doing this -- I have this unnatural aversion to soggy cereal (the smell of soggy cereal makes me gag). From now on, I will do it right away, before the cereal has a chance to go soggy. Dishes in the dishwasher, cereal put away, table and chairs wiped down. The same attitude will be applied to small tasks that I often needlessly put off: writing thank you notes, filing, proofreading short papers, folding laundry, washing dishes, etc. If something can be done in 10-15 minutes, I will henceforth just DO IT so that I don't have to think about it.
- I make a "to do" list at the beginning of each week. There is invariably something huge on that list, something that seems very daunting. For example, this week, it is a full revision of Chapters 2 and 3 of the dissertation, a revision that will be the FINAL revision. It seems like a menacing, huge task, and it is. Normally, I would put this kind of task off until the last minute (my deadline for this particular task is August 15), and then scramble to get it done instead of doing it in manageable increments. No more. From here on out, I will tackle large projects starting right after they make an appearance on my "to do" list.
- Although I schedule myself a lunch hour, I often don't take it. Instead, I snack through the afternoon, and I end up taking a series of 1/2 hour breaks from my work instead of a relaxing hour to eat. No more. I will start setting aside an entire hour to eat, and I will eat a full lunch instead of little snacks. This will be more productive, and ultimately healthier, too. (Contrary to popular belief, Cool Whip Free is NOT a healthy lunch. Did I mention how much I LOVE Cool Whip Free? And don't even get me started on Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil-flavored Wheat Thins.)
- I am traveling to Europe for a month this fall, and I keep telling myself that I need to beef up my language skills in certain subject areas. I have books to help me, but I haven't opened them. From now on, I will practice my vocabulary at least 1/2 hour each day. Every day. That means drilling words into my head like I used to do in eighth grade when I was learning the language for the first time.
- I hate to iron, but mostly I just hate the idea of ironing. So, I put it off all week long, until it reaches the point that I have to wake up early in the morning to iron a single shirt for my husband to wear. No more. I will now iron on Monday or Tuesday night. Everything will be done, and I won't have to think about it all week in dread.
That should be a good start toward greater productivity. And now that I'm publishing it for the world to see, I might even stick to it! I like to have other people hold me accountable for things, and this is a perfect way to do it.
In other news, I just finished the first book in my great Australian Literature Project: Tim Winton's The Riders. I undertook this project because I was in a rut of reading only European and Latin American authors, and I didn't really know much about Australian literature, despite having many friends in that area. So, I asked them for recommendations, and I how have an entire list of great books to read before I go to bed. I'll comment more on Winton's novel later -- it was one of the most bizarre books I've ever read (and not in a Garcia Marquez bizarre sense, but in a truly "I'm not sure if I like this" sort of sense). My new book is Nevile Shute's A Town Like Alice.
Off to pick up my SuperToddler. Can't wait to see him!