Tag Archives: To-Do List

Breaking Out of the Multitasking Mold

So, if you’ve ever looked at my Instagram account, you might see posts from my little book of To-Do Lists.

Seriously, I post about them all of the time.

Not only are To-Do Lists what keep me sane, but they also reflect just how much I like to stay involved and, arguably, how I will often take on more than I can chew. That being said, I’m very lucky to have a job that allows me to multitask. After finishing anything related to the job itself, I can spend the rest of the time doing dual tasks, i.e., still managing the front desk of the library, but also working on other things like this blog, my writing, my internship or any of the other things that slip onto my To-Do List from a week-to-week basis. If I didn’t have that luxury, there is no way I could put as much as I do on my To-Do List and be as consistent as I am crossing things off.*

Image result for multitasking

That said, one of the major things on the List this week was catching up on my Mythgard Academy classes. Mythgard is a wonderful resource that I discovered last year, when they were doing a seminar over Return of the Shadow (check out the link to read more about it). I tried to keep up with the weekly discussions and readings–it was over Tolkien, after all (jazzed was an understatement describing my excitement)–yet I ended up not making it past the first couple weeks. There were no consequences of that, but I was bummed, because I really enjoyed it.

So when they offered their next course over The Treason of Isengard, you know this nerd signed up immediately again.

And fell behind once more.

Between vacation and the rest of the List, I ended up falling behind on Mythgard, to the point where I was four weeks behind (technically five, if you consider doing the reading for this week’s upcoming lecture). I was so disappointed in myself. I really wanted to keep up and, writing out every lecture and reading I need to accomplish to catch up…it felt impossible.

But I really, really wanted to do this.

So I buckled down and caught up, at the expense of some writing time and pushing some other things towards the bottom of the List’s importance.

I discovered something, however; something that I did not expect.

I think I, sometimes, struggle with the desire to multitask too much, instead of focusing on one thing at a time.

The lectures over each week’s reading are roughly two hours long (though they usually go two and half hours, because we’re nerding out about Tolkien) and if you miss the live chat, you can catch up through various forms, but my favorite is YouTube. So when there was a lull at work, I’d put in one headphone, get out my notebook, open up the lecture and then get ready for nerdery.

I struggled, a lot, with not trying to do something else at the same time, whether it was writing a blog post, checking social media, responding to emails or loads of other things. Even though I was definitely invested with what the video was talking about, I kept itching to do something else. How could I spent two hours just sitting and listening when I could be crossing off two, three and four from the List at the same time?

By multitasking and crossing off two while also doing one, I was losing the true worth of one. Which, I’m sad to admit, I definitely did for a lecture…or two. And you can tell, by the lack of notes I took. Yet in the last lecture I watched last night, I had over a page of notes and I was much more invested in the material and the discussion, even if I was listening to it after the fact and not participating like normal, had I caught it live. And I felt so much better afterward–and enjoyed it so much more–than the previous two lectures where I did multiple things at once, but all of them didn’t feel half-assed, necessarily, but definitely not fully engaged in any of them.

That’s important.

We live in a world where there is never enough time in a day and a common question in job interviews is how well a person can multitask. But I think it’s important to remember the value of focusing and dedicating your attention to one thing; to one project, one goal, one setting, hell, one person, instead of trying to do everything at once and getting distracted. It was a good reminder that I’d forgotten. Now, time to try and do better.

Cheers.

* Not saying that I always am able to cross off everything from my To-Do List. It’s just as common for me to transfer multiple items from one week’s To-Do List to the next week’s. Only trying to convey that having a job that lets me work on multiple things is a huge reason I’m able to commit to the things I do commit to.

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Being Okay With Lazy

The past two days, I’ve been a bit…lazy. Instinctively, I felt like I needed to beat myself up about it. My To-Do List wasn’t getting any shorter and there was so much time that I was wasting, especially after having such a productive Monday. But I’m writing this post to remind myself that this is okay.

Here’s what an ideal day is like, for me, in the summer:

Wake up at 9am. Either run or go to the gym. Stretch. Lay out by the pool for an hour and hopefully read for a bit. Shower. Make lunch (and dinner, since I work through dinner time and need to prep it beforehand). If I have enough time before work, sneak in some PS4 time. Then, go to work, where I’m lucky enough to also have time to write, blog, do things for my internship and various other stuff from the To-Do List, on top of daily work stuff. Come home, maybe sneak in some more PS4 time or an episode on Netflix before going to sleep. Smile, rinse, repeat.

Here’s what the past two days have looked like:

Tuesday, I work up to my alarm at 9am. Snoozed it. Woke up at 9:30am, felt good, still had time to run and swim and eat and relax before work. But I really just wanted to stay curled up in bed. So I did, dozing on and off (with bloody weird dreams) until about noon. Then, I played Shadows of Mordor until it was time for work, frantically getting ready because I just wanted to kill a few more orcs before I left.

Today, I got up at 9:30am but instead of going to the gym or swimming like I planned, I went straight back into Mordor and slayed, once again pushing it to the brink, time wise, rushing to shower, dress and grab some stuff for dinner all in thirty minutes.

That’s two days where I didn’t work out at all but had plenty of time to. Didn’t swim or tan (and I’ll be honest and admit I’m really digging working on a tan), even though the weather was totally perfect for it. I didn’t use some of my free time to actually accomplish some things so that there wasn’t so much pressure crammed into my evenings. Instead, I just relaxed and got way too invested into Shadows of Mordor, which I’m replaying (and will hopefully actually beat this time) before Shadows of War comes out in the fall.

I keep telling myself I should feel guilty, that I wasted all this time. Except I shouldn’t. And I didn’t.

Sure, if every day could be as productive as my Monday was, I’d be pretty jazzed. I’m obviously very capable at being productive. I’d also get burnt out, really fast. Plus, is all that productivity suddenly ruined because I consciously decided to let myself just be lazy for a few days and enjoy one of my favorite passions? Especially knowing that, once I go full-time next week at work, that free time with the PS4 will be much more limited? Am I abandoning my goals because I chose to be lazy instead of pursuing them?

Not at all.

I’m choosing to believe that being lazy for a bit is okay.

Granted, if I started to give up all my goals for weeks on end, then we might have an actual problem to address. It’s a fine balance, staying productive and chasing dreams and goals, while also letting yourself unwind and relax. If I was choosing to not pursue my goals because I was in a massive depressed rut, that is also something else entirely. But I’ve been generally pretty okay the past couple days, emotionally, and instead of forcing myself to work out or swim or be hella productive, I’ve just let myself give into some orc-slaying pleasures and be lazy. I have a feeling I might even let that laziness continue into tomorrow, before I drive into a busy weekend. And next week, I can get back on track with routine and knocking my goals out of the park. Because a little indulgence, every once in a while, it’s okay.

It honestly is.

Plus, those orcs aren’t going to slay themselves. (Maybe each other, sure, but Talion and I have work to do.)

Cheers.


A Guiding Focus

If you follow this blog, you may have noticed my resolutions post and then the subsequent update posts I publish every Sunday. I feared that this repetition and constant harping over my personal goals would become boring or annoying to my readers (and there’s still plenty of time for that to be the case), but I’ve actually been really surprised by the amount of responses I’ve gotten in regards to these posts. Overwhelmingly, the response has been coming from a place of concern.

You’re doing too much. Try not to burnout. Cut back. Take care of yourself. 

I admit, those concerns are not unfounded. I have a lot I want to accomplish. I’m really involved in many different jobs, hobbies and interests. I have a hard time saying no, which makes those commitments increase even further. Of course, I always combat such concerns with gratitude while also brushing them off, telling people I know my limits and what I can handle. And there is truth to that. I have always been super involved (perhaps even over-involved) and I function best juggling half a dozen things at once while multitasking, with giant To-Do lists in tow.

Yet, at the same time, with so many different people expressing concern, it forced me to take a step back and ask if I truly am attempting to do too much. That resulted in reflection that didn’t really provide any more answers than it did headaches while repeating pros, cons and questions in circles.

I have five main goals I’m focusing on: blogging, fitness, financial, reading and writing. All of these aspects are very important in my life. All of them are areas I would really like to improve upon and grow within. So when people suggest cutting something out, my immediate instinct is to combat them. I don’t want to give up any of these things, especially because they are all aspects of my life that I want to be important aspects of my life for a long time. I never want to give up writing. I don’t want to reach a goal weight and then suddenly never run a mile again. The unique thing about all of these focuses and the goals surrounding them this year is that, while there is an ultimate goal I want to achieve within each, none of them have a deadline. None of them are meant to. Instead, they are lifestyle changes.

So giving them up isn’t an option. Yet constantly failing to meet my goals on top of balancing everything else in life is also not exactly ideal. Nor is sacrificing self-care. The only thing I have been able to come up with is re-envisioning how I see my goals in relation to balance and focus.

Let’s see if I can make this make sense.

Last week, I didn’t meet most of my goals, but I did meet my fitness goal of working out four times a week. And though I wasn’t shy about admitting what I didn’t do last week, to me, I felt totally accomplished. I felt like it was such a successful week, even though I only wrote once, hardly read any, completely fell off of the blogging bandwagon and am still financially incompetent. And it was that sense of accomplishment despite being surrounding by shortcomings that made me realize a potentially healthier approach to having so many goals I want to work on at once without being forced to give any of those goals up, all while avoiding burnout and giving up entirely.

I’ll always want to work on the five areas aforementioned. They’re lifestyle changes, as I said. Yet I do agree with my sweet friends and readers that trying to meet every goal that I set every single week is a bit overwhelming and is easily a recipe for burnout and giving up entirely due to always falling short.

So, I’ve come up with a plan.

I’m still going to write a goal post every Sunday. I’m still going to write out goals for each category. But instead of being stressed out and overwhelmed that I’m not accomplishing everything that I want to every single day, I’m going to try and focus on a different aspect each week. Last week, I obviously focused on fitness. And through that focus, I was able to achieve it. This week, I can already tell (based on the 200 pages I’ve read in the past two days and the less than 100 pages I have left) that reading is certainly what I’m focusing on, without “deciding” to focus on either category either week. So it’s not going to be a thing where I’m like, “This week, I’m going to focus on X.” Instead, it’s going to be organic, just like these past two weeks have been. Life is unpredictable. So are emotions. And though I love a rigid routine, in order to stay sane, I need some flexibility. I need permission to fail, just as I need a guiding focus on where I want to be.

So not a lot is changing as far as you can tell, dear readers. It’s mostly all what is going on inside my head and how I approach things mentally. Yes, this less-strict approach towards achieving my goals might make reaching each ultimate goal a bit slower or more difficult. But that’s okay, because what matters is that I reach those goals. A week, a month, a year, ten years from now. And, even more importantly, that I enjoy the journey along the way, instead of feeling like I’m in a permanent state of being a chicken with her head cut off, running around a massive To-Do list that never ends and just laughs at me as I stumble each week. I’m not sure if this change in mindset will work, but I’m certainly game to try. Thank you all for your support, your advice, your honest reactions and for your encouragement. You are the absolute best. ❤

Cheers.


Relying on Unreliable Time

A bit ago, I wrote a post about how frustrated I was with the fact that I never seemed to get done anything that I wanted–or needed–to accomplish. I have a To-List that climbs to new heights on a daily basis and it doesn’t seem to be decreasing any time soon. To paint a picture, here are some of the things I want (and sort of need) to do:

Finish the first draft of Artemis Smith’s first story (or my fifth book). Edit Darryn’s trilogy (or at least the first book) before August 5th, so I can send it to a swap. Edit one short story and write another. Query. Start beta reading a manuscript. Read and review an ARC book. Read and review two previously published books sent to me by the same publishing house. Read books for fun. A lot of books. Write posts regularly on both this blog and my book review blog. Finally watch the first season of Outlander. Continue playing every video game that I’m obsessed with (currently, that is Elder Scrolls Online). Perhaps get back into watching TV or Netflix. Sleep in and stay up late.

And, of course, there are things I need to do, as well:

Schedule an eye doctor’s appointment. Take Shadow for walks daily. Schedule yearly check-up. Avoid yearly check-up at all costs. Get furniture and other necessities for apartment. Get renter’s insurance. Go through stuff to prepare to move. Job search. Sell kidneys to afford life. Job search. Everything I’m forgetting at this moment. Job search.

There is just so much to do. And I’ve figured out my main problem: I keep planning to accomplish things during unreliable time, i.e., I plan to do everything I want/need to do at work, while I use my free time to play video games, and then get disappointed when I don’t accomplish the things I wanted to accomplish that evening. Like I’ve mentioned before, I have a pretty flexible job when it comes to doing work and having my own time to complete things. Yet work, of course, obviously comes first. The other night, I scanned for a couple hours and didn’t get any writing done, because I had to work at work (I know, crazy, right?). Last night, a friend came to visit and I neglected this blog again. Life happens.

I’ve realized a couple other things, too. One: I’m still living with a college student’s mindset. Summer is meant to be the time where you do all the things you want, not the things you should be doing. So playing video games until 2am? Done. Choosing to play video games instead of anything else because that’s what you truly want to do? Done. You won’t have time to, later. And for me, it’s still sort of true. When I move into my apartment at the end of August, the PS4 stays with my brother at home (it is his, after all). And considering I have to buy all my furnishings and then have a bunch of new bills to pay come August, buying a PS4 of my own won’t be on top of my list (though I want it to be). So I want to maximize on the time I have escaping into the games that I love while I can.

Two: the things that used to be “hobbies” are now much more serious to me. A year ago, writing wasn’t something I did regularly. I constantly had the ideas and wanted to write, but I never gave it importance. Cue NaNoWriMo and suddenly I realized I could give it the importance it deserved. Six months later and I have written two books and started a third. Plus, I started networking, so now I beta read for more people, have critique partners, started book reviewing and blogging more seriously–even started freelance editing, just a smidge (but loving the hell out of it).

Now, I want to do it all–writing, reading, gaming, editing, blogging–on top of my regular commitments and give all of those things equal importance. Yet the time I “budget” for it is the time I can’t rely on, so I fall into this routine of never accomplishing anything, feeling shitty about it, yet not changing anything about the circumstances, instead just using my free time playing ESO and pretending everything else is getting done.

*heavysigh*

So, here is my game plan. I’m going to make a weekly schedule to start in September. That way, I’ll be moved into my apartment, (hopefully) have my job situation figured out and I’ll still give myself a summer to be lazy and get that out of my system. On the schedule, I’ll make goals I want to accomplish by listing how many hours a week I want to spend on something, e.g., working out five hours a week, editing for six, etc. Then, I’ll block out times and list the options that make sense. For example, I won’t list working out an hour before I have to go to work because that isn’t enough time to go to the gym, shower, go home and get ready. So I’ll list that activity in the morning or early afternoon. But I could list reading or editing right before work, because that’s feasible.

Giving myself options instead of listing concrete things at certain times makes so much more sense to me, now, but I’ve never tried that before. One morning, I might wake up and really want to go run a mile (that’ll be the day). But if my schedule says I should be editing during that time and I didn’t plan any other time to edit, then I’ll feel guilty if I go run instead of edit or feel guilty if I stay to edit and don’t run whilst in the mood. Instead, by listing plausible options during slotted times–but still having goal amounts of times I want to complete during the week, thus holding myself accountable–I can have more flexibility to listen to my mood and Muses and less chance to feel guilt.

Because life gets in the way. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. And I can’t plan for that. But I can plan to be able to respond to that in a healthy manner; much healthier than I have been feeling these past few weeks, constantly fretting and feeling overwhelmed, unmotivated, under-accomplished and a failure.

So here’s my permission to continue dedicating my free time to Elder Scrolls, editing Darryn’s story before the deadline and then worrying about everything else without a deadline when my “summer” is over. Here’s my permission to not feel guilty about wanting to do everything. Here’s my permission to feel stressed trying to balance it all (notice I didn’t even get into trying to fit in things like hanging out with friends, catching up with family, one day hoping for a romantic partner to make me swoon or anything of that sort. Yeesh). Here’s the recognition that relying on unreliable time makes an already difficult task impossible. Here’s the promise that I will do better in the future, so I can continue doing everything that I love and be happy, with minimal stress and gross feelings.

Cheers.