Friday, September 23, 2011

Scheduling Success

Since my last post (which, I realize, was several weeks ago already), a number of you have asked for an update on my “week of no solitaire” and my new highly scheduled life. I am proud to say that, since posting my last blog, I have wasted not one single moment on solitaire, mahjong, Sudoku, or any other similar time-sucking activities. (Although, you may have guessed from my recent lack of blogging that I neglected to include “write blog” to the schedule. I have since rectified that problem.)  
Since instituting this new system, I have achieved record-setting writing productivity – approximately 100 pages of writing over a two-week period. A little over 80 pages of that went into my thesis, with another 8-10 going toward other projects. Whew!
Now, granted, the thesis needed to get done. I had set a deadline with my director, and I was determined to make it, no matter what. Merely sticking to the schedule wouldn’t have cut it. I spent many consecutive late nights typing like a crazy person. But the schedule helped me stay on track during the days and accomplish all the other things that needed to get accomplished at the same time. So, overall, I’d call it a success.
I have since added a helpful element to my scheduling: the “to-do” list. Not a novel invention on my part, I know. But up until now I have only utilized to-dos at the very busiest times of my life when I have a million things to get done in a short time and forgetting something could be catastrophic: my wedding; preparing for the births of my children; Christmas; every time my neat-freak brother-in-law comes to visit.
I’ve discovered that these useful little tools, just by the fact of their existence, prompt me to accomplish things I wouldn’t have otherwise. It’s as if writing a list and sticking it on the fridge makes each task mandatory, as opposed to some idea I’m just toying with. I feel obligated to cross items off, and if I don’t, I feel I owe an explanation to myself and others as to why tasks didn’t get done. What could possibly have been more important than washing the insecticide gunk off the windows? Why didn’t I get around to re-potting the fall flowers? And could anything really have been more important than mopping the floors? (Well…)
Now that the schedule is in place and my thesis is drafted, it’s time to move forward. The revision schedule starts now: 5-6 revised chapters each week for the next six weeks. At the same time, I’ll be writing personal essays, juvenile poems, and short stories for my independent study. Mix in with that trips to the pumpkin patch, Halloween parties, a quick trip to visit Nana and PopPop, plus the very real possibility that I’ll once again host Thanksgiving, and it’s shaping up to be a busy fall. But I love every minute of it. And with the help of my schedule, everything should get done on time with a relative level of sanity.
So what about you? How will you keep yourself sane and organized this fall?

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