Category: Productivity Page 1 of 3

Where Troubles Melt Like Lemon Drops

We’re halfway through the year and I ended the first half of 2019 on vacation in Hawaii. That also means I spent a couple of weeks wondering why I don’t live there. I may spend the next couple of weeks trying to suss out the answer to that question before daily drudgery sweeps over me like a wave that I didn’t quite catch because I suck at surfing.

I take responsibility seriously, so seriously that I frequently forget about being stupidly irresponsible, which is more fun. I tend to put off the fun stuff until the serious stuff is finished, except that there is always more serious stuff. I have to make room for the fun stuff, not wait for the perfect time to do it. That’s a hard lesson for me to grasp.

So I was pleasantly surprised how I was able to let vacation envelop me. Maybe that’s because of where I was vacationing. But I think that a lot of it had to do with getting the hang of letting things go. I wasn’t perfect: I still got my usual pre-travel jitters and I had a couple of anxious moments during the trip. But on the whole, I relaxed in a way that I hadn’t for a long time. It was great.

Then I got home and immediately fell back into a lot of bad habits. Oh well. More work to be done!

First Train Into the Big World

I spend a lot of time doing small little tasks to make myself feel productive. But I rarely stop to think if those tasks are helping me accomplish bigger goals or consider whether or not they are necessary. I do them because I’ve always done them.

As my work and home duties are evolving in considerable ways, I’ve become more conscious of how much stuff I do just for the sake of doing it. Keeping the work journal should help me sort everything out, but I would need to sit down and look at past journals to do analysis and my goodness, do I have time for that, look how busy I am, my journal clearly says so!

You can see how I walk around in circles. Thinking I don’t have time to plan my day or my week and so forth because I am too busy with all my day-to-day duties only distracts me from prioritizing what actually needs to get done.

Productivity gurus commonly recommend scheduling time in your calendar time to do something that is detail-oriented or requires high levels of concentration. It has the external effect of letting co-workers know not to bother you and the internal effect of giving you the space to complete important tasks.

Of course, it does require you to adhere to your calendar. Whenever I’ve done this in the past, I’ve gotten my notifications, dismissed them, then keep chugging away on the minutiae I was engrossed in.

I’d like to think publishing a post about this would motivate me to do it, but I also know I’ve written about it before, then not followed up because I had fallen off the wagon and was embarrassed to admit it. There’s no shame in having trouble breaking bad habits, so long as I own up to my mistakes and try again. That’s how I learn.

By the way, I am using a lyric from a snarky song as a headline for something sincere. I’ve got layers.

Coming Up for Air

The past couple of months have been ridiculously intense. Part of the reason why is public knowledge, and you’ll know when the dust has settled from that when I update my LinkedIn profile.

I’ve also had to deal with some more personal issues, and I’m not so much waiting for dust to settle as slowly understanding that I am standing in fog and occasionally there will be a thunderstorm. But mostly things are just pleasantly misty.

I have to stay on top of a lot of things right now, and writing it all down makes it seem daunting. I started to adapt the project management techniques I use at work to manage it all, with little success yet. There are kinks to work out, because the tools and formats I use at work don’t necessarily mesh cleanly at home.

But I also accept that no matter how much honing I do, it’s a perpetual work in progress. There is no one perfect way to do anything, no one weird trick. Something works for awhile, but a small adjustment or even a major overhaul may be necessary. For now, if I can learn how to keep all the plates spinning, I will be doing okay.

It’s also nice to have a good little brewery walking distance from my house!

The Feeling at the End of the Page

When I first started teleworking back in 2011, the staffing agency I worked for and my supervisor at the time asked me to keep track of the work I was doing from home. I would send them an email at the end of each work day. When the bureau I work for set up G Suite back in 2014, I began writing my reports in Google Docs.

On February 29, 2016, I began to write up a report every work day, rather than just on my telework days. (I had to look up the date!) It had become useful for me to keep track of all of the projects I was working on. It became part of my daily routine.

I didn’t really think of it as a work diary per se until I read Amanda Leftwich’s article in The Librarian Parlor, “Reflecting Journaling: A Daily Practice.” I wouldn’t describe what I do as reflective and more as reactive. I’m just keeping track of what I’ve done in a day. That said, having all of those details written down has helped me when updating my duties in my contract, tweaking my LinkedIn profile, and (very occasionally) coming up with ideas for posts.

What I really took away from “Reflecting Journaling” was that I could get more out of my daily routine. I don’t really use the diary to work through problems I am trying to solve or projects I am trying to wrap my head around, but instead as a way to catalog my routine. This has a lot to do with the fact that the original diary entries were shared as reports with my original onsite and agency supervisors. I haven’t had to file telework reports for years, but the report format has stuck.

Despite my proclivity to play around with productivity tools and tips, I never used journaling as a way to help me manage my workload. Given that I tend to pick up and drop hacks, it makes sense to work within something that I already do on a regular basis. Maybe it will be easier to adapt habits I already have to new purposes.

That’s How I Escaped My Certain Fate

Is January 17 way too late to make my New Year’s resolutions? I read a brief article in Fast Company recently titled, “Why you should start your New Year’s resolutions on March 4” that got me to thinking about how I approach things like, say, writing a personal blog.

The author Art Markman writes that a reason why many people fail to accomplish their resolutions is that they don’t put a plan into place to achieve them. He recommends spending the first couple months of the year making a plan, observing your habits, figuring out what will block you from succeeding, and finding people who can help you along the way.

(Yes, that’s a tl;dr version of an article with a two minute reading time.)

I won’t bore you with all of the bad habits I am resolving to change, but in context of my blog, my goals are as follows:

  • Figure out the story I want to tell with this blog.
  • Expand my reading and viewing horizons that will help inspire new posts.
  • Set and adhere to a writing schedule that is reasonable.

I don’t think that’s too tricky, but obviously I’ve made those goals before without success. Did I hold me back?

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