Posts Tagged ‘Productivity’


Every once in a while a day goes by where things pile up and up and then the day comes to a close without having felt the slightest bit of productivity. I had one of those days today.

It started with a late start and lingering end to an outing I went on yesterday which finished with me getting home mid-afternoon with little energy from lack of sleep. I spent a short amount of time catching up on reading, watched a little of the Super Bowl, grabbed dinner, had my morning shower (late), decided to nap but failed, had an unsuccessful coffee run, then had a meeting where I was completely belligerent. I’ll stop my rant of daily activities here.

There is a distinct mental state that tends to fall into place following lack of sleep, broken eating schedules, malnutrition (including over-caffination), and the general feeling of being unaccomplished. When in this mental state any and every event that takes place, if not initiated personally, feels completely awkward no matter what it is. Not only does my brain move slow like molasses, but what comes out of each thinking spurt seems incomplete and off-topic. It’s quite a frustrating place to be.

The obvious solution is to do a “reset”. If I get back on a proper sleep schedule, eat normal again, and start to conquer small tasks it should be easy to get back into the groove. And that’s just what I’ll do. I can’t be the only person to experience these completely frustrating and seemingly unfixable situations, am I? People say this builds up from stress and over-working but I really don’t feel like I’ve over-worked myself the last couple days — but then again, maybe my standards for over-working are skewed.

I do have to mention, though, that since quitting diet soda a few months ago these occurrances have diminished dramatically. I’ve also made a conscious effort to get back onto a semi-regular schedule to avoid these situations. Oh, and I’ve also just purchased a sweet new thinking aide.

Progressive change towards a healthier lifestyle

It’s 5:40am and I’m getting a lot of good solid programming done. Do I (a) keep going in my productive, awake, but possibly drone state until I can go no longer and possibly skipping a night of sleep or (b) sleep now, later than I should have, kill my productivity, and promise to get up and running quickly when I re-awaken in the morning (by which I mean the time that I wake from sleep)?

I’m going to go to sleep (after I finish this blog entry) because I want to be cautious about the possible side effects of skipping even one night of sleep. In fact, after reading I may be causing more damage than I think by maintaining a volatile sleep schedule.

I’ve recently become more and more self-conscious about my mental health and progressively adjusting my lifestyle and decisions to help my body and mind stay as fit and problem-free as possible. There are so many other things in this life that can and will stand as external, unavoidable speed bumps causing me to lose time, concentration, and emotional stability that it only makes sense to work hard preserving my body as best as I personally can.

I say this as a person who does not live anywhere near an optimal lifestyle in terms of health. I do not do drugs or over consume foods with large quantities of unhealthy ingredients nor do I exercise really at all. I don’t consider myself an unhealthy person, but rather an “average” person that has a lot to improve upon.

I’ve never done well jumping into new responsibilities or habits without a considerable transition period. I find it difficult to go cold turkey or make sudden changes in my life so I take it easy and change slowly, but in the right direction.

Here’s to a (post new years) resolution to every day make at least a some amount of progress towards a better physical, mental, and emotional health.

Finding my GTD

I have tried several todo/gtd apps including Tracks and other web-based apps, OmniFocus and iGTD. While some of these make it painfully easy to input tasks they don’t encourage task completion. What I end up with is tasks properly contextualized and project-organized in a big pile. I find myself out of breath and left short of what direction to head before I even start working because there are never too few projects and things to do.

What I have found to work for me is a ordered list of what to do next in the day overall. I need to see what exactly is left for me to do in a given day. To-do apps do a great job prioritizing and setting due dates and some even clear exactly where the next steps on various projects are, but what I really need personally is a daily agenda that I can keep referencing to see what’s next on my list for today.

I’ve begun using a simple text file for my todos in order to simplify this method. My syntax (with example tasks) is as follows.

# 2007-10-22
- write todos blog entry
- read feeds
- schedule dentist appointment
- finish 440 lab assignment
- brush up on 430 material
- catch up on info 470 reading
- catch up on info 440 reading
@before bed
- schedule tommorrows todos

That’s a very simplified set of tasks but if I create my todos the night or morning before I can guess how much time each task will take and fit it in broken up based on where I will be at that point in the day. This is flexible, of course. If I find I don’t finish something as planned I can always move it into another place or put it in a dump for scheduling on or after the # NEXT day. The contexts are a bit different than many gtd apps will suggest they be used, but they work.

I’ll revisit and reflect on my progress in a week or two.

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