Wednesday, November 30, 2005

So much to say, so much to say

Today I realized that my life is parallelling my blogging.

All this week, I've had all this "professional energy", meaning that I'm totally motivated to get school stuff and (especially) research stuff done. But at the same time, I'm feeling really scattered. There are so many things I *could* do, and none of them are immediately due (beyond the normal day-to-day teaching stuff, etc). So I'm having a really hard time just picking one thing and focusing on it. I'll start one thing, then flit to the next, then get bored with that and start something else. It's a weird sort of procrastination: I'm working, but I don't work enough to make substantial progress on any one thing.

(This afternoon was a bit better: I picked a task and stuck with it for a couple of hours. And I even wrote up a to-do list for tomorrow so that I can hit the ground running. Go me!)

Blogging has been the same way for me lately. I have a bunch of ideas for posts: teaching stuff, random happenings, more reflections on anonymity, recommendation letters. I also have all these grand plans for the blog, such as updating my way-out-of-date blogroll. But I'll start one post or task and get bored with it and not finish it. I have all this "blogging energy", but I can't channel it. There's nothing remarkable going on now, just the normal angst, and there's nothing really pressing to write about, just background stuff. So again, I'm finding it hard to just pick a topic and go with it.

The scatteredness, professionally, tends to eventually work itself out. Something comes to the front as being more important than the other tasks, and I'm back in my comfort zone. Most likely, the blogging scatteredness will work itself out too in time.

How do you get yourself out of a rut like this? What are your strategies?


Laura said...

Honestly, the GTD book really helped. I have a huge to-do list organized by location--at computer, at work, at home, etc. So if I find myself wondering what I should do, I look at my list and decide what to do based on how much time and energy I have. Low energy calls for simple tasks like emailing people or looking something up online. Higher energy and/or more time calls for writing proposals or brainstorming new ideas. I have a whole post in my head about this as I've fallen off the bandwagon and have recently gotten back on again.

Jane said...

Laura, I keep hearing about GTD and I have to say that I am intrigued (and I have read your posts about it with a lot of interest). I should probably read it. I did read _The Now Habit_ earlier this year, and I've found some of the strategies in that book pretty helpful.

I guess the problem is that if you have, say, 3 tasks, and all of them require approximately equal time and/or energy and are roughly of equal importance, then what do you do? That's the position I've found myself in. Although today was much better---I was fired up about one thing in particular and worked on that for most of the day.

wz said...

Hmm. Well, I have that problem today. I have 3 separate tasks to do, that all need to be done by the end of the night, and that are all of equal importance, and all require roughly the same amount of time/energy (totalling a little bit more than I actually have, which is the truly unfortunate bit).

I'm dealing with it by rotating every hour. That way if I get distracted onto reading blogs or some other such thing (due to that familiar feeling of total brainfade-due-to-panic), I have to snap out of it after an hour at most. And I get a little bit done on each thing, and it gets easier as I go along because the little bit I have done boosts me for the next little bit.

Even though this doesn't work so well with something where you need to be able to spend a lot of time on (e.g. like coding, where I find that it takes me a while to get all the bits and pieces I need floating around in my relatively recent memory before I can actually start putting stuff together), it does help ameliorate the 'skipping from one to another and never finishing anything', because as long as you have a short list of tasks, you do get back to each task at regular intervals. Speaking of which, time to get back onto the next task...