Monday, September 03, 2012

Overwhelmed? Scheduled.

No wonder I multi-task. There is much too much to do, learn, read, take in, experience in a single lifetime. And even when I do multi-task, I feel like I miss out on so much.  The other day I actually cried when I realized how much there was in the world I know nothing about, yet fascinates me completely.  For a person who loves information, the internet has given life to my mind.  So, how will I manage to keep filling my mind with information and still be productive with all of the things that I want to do?

My goal was to build a tighter, more organized schedule so I could begin achieving some major goals which are important to me. The first part of this project was to begin listing all the things I do, the things I need to do and the things I want to do.  Right now there are nine categories with multiple activities in each of the categories.  By the time I typed the last word in the last category (at which point I added three more blank categories because I'm nowhere near finished), tears threatened to squirt out of my eyes.  To be honest, I'm not sure if those happened because I was overwhelmed by excitement or utter terror at the immensity of this.

I started this post six days ago and yesterday I finally created a schedule offering flexibility and structure.  I tried it out and when evening arrived, I had accomplished everything from writing a bit of fiction to listening to a 75 minute lecture on Ancient Greek History. I wrote my blogpost, a thousand words in my journal and walked. I spent time posting responses in my class forum and continued the task of inputting hundreds of pages of handwritten notes into  a format where they will be searchable and useable.  All of these items were finally in a format which would act as a reminder to me as well as offer a sense of accomplishment when I checked them off the day's list.

Writing this blog?  It's finally on a list of things to do each Monday. Of course, I could avoid it, but in order to continue to grow and achieve goals, it's time to find a better way to delineate my goals and challenge myself to meet all of them.  If this works for me, I'm going to be a very happy girl!

I built a two week schedule that cycles through all of the things I should be doing.  I wanted to ensure that I didn't overwhelm myself during a single day, because I've found that I can rebel against myself as much as I ever rebelled against anyone else telling me what to do.  I needed to be honest with myself about exactly what I would do and what I would just ignore.  If I thought there was a chance I'd ignore something, I either moved it to a day with fewer responsibilities or really considered whether or not it was something I want in my life.

For instance, Wednesdays always need to be spent writing papers, which means Tuesdays require a great deal of research and reading.  Those two things take more time than nearly anything else I do and even so, I am great at wasting time as I try to avoid doing them. I know that about myself and am willing to admit that it is true, so I build time into the schedule for procrastination.

This has been coming at me for quite some time. For the last three months I've been laying the groundwork for a more succinct system.  I began with a very flexible structure in June, knowing that as time passed, I would tweak things and continue to build in more layers. Discovering it was working for me allowed me freedom to actually move forward. It took a while to figure out exactly what things would look like, but finally, my creative little brain found its way.  I thought I'd build this in Google Calendar, but then I wanted a more limited framework ... something that would look the same week after week, with variations to keep it interesting.  My calendar is a reflection of the big activities that show up in my life, the schedule holds the little, day to day activities.  Activities must be organized by type, not just by the hour of the day, because that type of flexibility is important to me.  I didn't want to be bound by a clock, knowing that if I missed writing my blogpost by nine o'clock, I've screwed up the entire day.

The schedule is a work in process, an organic outgrowth of myself. Even as I was writing about it here and looking at it, I realized there were a couple of things I could do to make it more cohesive, so I made the changes and am happy.

It is a little strange to come to this point in my life and finally have an idea of how to organize my world and work.  But, now that I'm on task, you should be hearing more from me!  And I actually have some things I'm looking forward to telling you!


Nancy said...

Wow! Did you have any examples that showed you the direction you wanted to go with your schedule or did you develope it entirely on your own?

Diane Muir said...

I built it on my own. I spent a lot of time thinking through all the things I needed to ensure were on the schedule, broke them down into things that HAD to happen each day and things that needed to happen on specific days. Then, I just began plugging other goals, projects, tasks, etc., in where it made sense. I made sure to leave days open in the week when I knew I usually went out for lunch with friends or did other things.