Well Spent

I should know better. I often extol the virtues of a workday that might include a trip to the dry cleaners when I'm feeling unproductive, and a late night of fixing bugs when I'm on a roll. I also often request that I not be congratulated as a "hard worker" for being online at 11pm; just as some people get sleepy at 3pm, I tend to get a third wind after 10. (I usually get the second at about 5pm, fwiw.)

And yet, I've found myself depressed over the past three days as the meticulous schedule of 30- to 60-minute blocks I drew up for myself went totally out the window. The problem is that my work to-do list started outpacing my (considerable) personal to-do list, and I got nervous that I'd never actually *finish* anything or be prepared for my next meeting (especially the one I lead)—hence the schedule. The problem is that this just isn't how I work. Nothing got *done* on Wednesday, and yet lots of things moved forward. I didn't fix any bugs, as scheduled, but I did catch up on a bunch of other things... and I set myself up for finishing a few things on Thursday (including two things that came up at the last minute, and thus weren't on the schedule).

I think the trick is to stay flexible, keep the list of things I'm responsible for front-and-center where I can see them (and thus know what my options are when I'm looking for something to do—because right now scanning blogs and Flickr is the default, when fixing a bug or doing a build or writing a presentation should be), and not worry too much if I spend a little time daydreaming and get off my schedule. Also? Don't automatically say, "ok, sure" whenever someone suggests me for a task. It may be flattering that I'm at the top of so many lists, but if I want to stay there, I have to be able to deliver on the tasks I'm given—and I can't do that if I'm completely buried under them.

What got me thinking about all this is the now-totally-shot-to-hell schedule, of course, but also this article in the New York Times that I happened upon while, um, reading blogs in my RSS feed. OK, you got me.


Posted by Lori in work at 3:12 PM on June 1, 2007