overdoing it

The last few days I have felt very stressed out and I did not feel in control of my work at all. And that with all my planning efforts! I found myself trying to do five things at a time, answering phone and emails in between and letting myself get distracted by colleagues. And then everything felt too hard to do, so I turned  to checking my google reader and favourite websites every fifteen minutes. I wasn’t working well.

So of course, I blamed it on the planner. It was too complicated, or there was  not enough room, I did not like it any more… Until I started talking about it with my husband last night, when I felt unhappy with what I got done that day. I said that I wanted to try another planner, a simple bound one maybe, because what I had was not working. But when we talked some more, it became clear that the planner was not the problem. The problem is me.

Did you ever hear of complexophilia? I did not either, until this great post by Scott Young. I was trying to find a complex solution for a very simple problem. And the solution was simpe too. But not easy.

You see, the problem was not that I did not know what I should do or where I should be doing it or when it should be finished. That was all in the filofax, and in my head. It was not that I could not do it. The problem is that I was overplanning and overthinking it. In my view, there are a few simple things I need to do:

  • stop obsessing about planners, and planning methods and productivity and such. Just a simple weekly diary and weekly to do list will do. So away with the complex system of weekly and daily pages. Just weekly pages and to do list.
  • start to single task. This means doing one thing at a time, not letting myself get distracted by other work, by colleagues or by the internet. Especially the last part is very hard for me to stay away from, just because it is always there. Try putting a pie next to someone on a diet, every day, all day.
  • train my ability for hard focus as explained by Cal Newport. This is important, because I lost all my abilities to concentrate since finishing my master’s degrees (sitting in a library all day) and starting to work (being on a computer all day). I need to get my concentration abilities back.

To help me do this, I have decided to buy the full version of the book focus by Leo Babauta. The free version had great info, and from what I have seen already the full version is definitely worth it. I may try to use some form of blocking software, or try in some other form to disconnect and break my internet addiction. The other step I am taking is to rid my google reader of the productivity blogs in there. My system is good enough as it is, and I can always subscribe again later. I will try to improve my focus threshold by starting with 20 minute periods this week, and try to do five every day. Next week I will try 30 minute periods, and so on untill I can do a few periods of an hour every day.

I hope this plan will work. If anyone has ideas or suggestions it would be great to hear them too, and thank you for reading.

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3 Comments

  1. ahh frustrating day! but it seems like you learned a lot from it, too.
    you will have to report back on the valuable parts of the full version of ‘focus’ – i almost got it but just went for the freebie 🙂

  2. Hey, great post. I am definitely experiencing similar stuff. No tips, yet, but I am working on it ;). Hang in there! Nora

  3. Oh how frustrating for you! This was a great post. My planning really comes down to two things, my appointments schedule and a list of things I need to get done, including my 3 must do items for the week. Then each day I decide what will get done so that I can complete my weekly list. Some things do need to be carried over to the following day or week but it works well for me!

    Currently I am keeping my appointments in my week on 2 pages on Adelphi and using my week date for my todos as I am waiting on more detailed inserts for my filo. I think what you suggest is actually all you really need. Too many productivity sites can make you confused and unproductive. Do what works for you. You know best how to organise your time.

    Good luck and please share with us how it goes and your thoughts on the focus book.

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