Monday, September 08, 2014

Manage your day -to-day: Book review

How do you do it all? Do you get that question a lot? 

I do and frankly, its a constant juggle to stay ahead of the curve and I am ready for any advice that might help me manage it better. So, when I saw  this book 'Manage your day to day in Pam Garrison's Instagram feed, I noted it down immediately. I was still on my trip at the time so the first book that I request from the library once I was back in town is - 'Manage your day to day' by the 9U Book Series.

It’s a wonderful book, precise, concise and to the point. I got through it quickly and then returned to it a second time to make sure, I didn’t miss any important points. If you look at it from a broader perspective, it is a book which talks common sense for the most part. The kind of stuff that parents used to tell us when we growing up.
I remember my parents constantly reminding me, you must have a time-table, follow your schedule, and do ten math problems each day, practice writing one page each day, go to bed at the same time, try going potty at the same time each day…etc. I guess you catch the drift.

Anyways, listed below are a few points from the book that resonated well with my expectations—
  •      Do creative work first and routine work second
  •      Find your own body rhythm and make schedule accordingly
  •      Practice every day, frequency fosters productivity
  •      Avoid multi-tasking
  •      Don’t focus on perfection, define your expectation before you began the task and don’t     modify it on the go.

Some of the things that I have tried to implement in my life as a result of reading this book are—        
  • Set up timer to do creative work. I think I had mentioned it on the blog one time that to manage my chores, I use a fifteen minute timer and whatever gets done in that time is good enough. I kind of reversed that approach and give myself fifteen minutes to research a topic or to randomly sketch or doodle, or work on a project. I found that fifteen minutes is a long time and you actually can get a lot accomplished in that time if you are focused. I tried this tactic for a repair project (read boring work) at work and I could plow through it really well. A three minute break after every fifteen minute work cycle and after three work cycle, I got a ten minute email time as a reward.
  • Manage your distraction. I have already made it a point not use social media from my work computer just as a way to remain honest at work but I realized that I was often checking Facebook and Instagram on my phone and wasting time without realizing it. So, as a drastic measure I switched off the data on my phone and so now it’s used just for calling and texting which is not unreasonable in my case. I know you can moderate the time on your phone but somehow, it’s tough for me to go halfway for anything.
  • I am a perpetual list maker. Remember the time when we had just moved into our current home and my list was three pages long. Well, I love my lists still but I’m trying to modify my ways a little. I now divide tasks in three lists, Today, Near Future and Sometime in Future. As the book recommends, my daily to-do list fits on a 3”x 3” post-it note and as I plow through them each day, I keeping writing new list each morning some with carryover from the day before and others from my ‘near future’ list. And of course the sometime in future list is very fluid and it grows like a weed, but it doesn't stress me out since I know when I am writing it down that it’s not on the schedule for quite sometime to come.
  • I’m also trying to find my own rhythm to find out when my mind is stimulated for creative work and when it dulls down and requires more repetitive work. And I give myself a break after the creative work even if it wants to keep going just to prevent a fatigue. Because I’d rather come back to the work after the break rather than finish it all at one time and be so exhausted that it’s tough to incorporate ideas and criticism once I get the feedback from others.
I found that these tactics are helping me in both places work and at home. Even though at work my schedule is influenced by a lot of external factors, I was a lot more at peace when I worked with the natural rhythm of my body and mind. Even if I’m interrupted in my cycles, I’m aware of it and it’s easier to fall back into rhythm. At home of course, I determine my schedule and for the rest of the family  as well and it’s much easier to sit down to read with a ten minute timer when the soup is simmering.
I’m not an expert at it, just been following these strategies for a week and a half but it feels good. It keeps me motivated to keep going and stay focused. And if anytime I start falling off the rhythm I know I can come back and read this book review and find my bearings again… 

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