Cafe Witness

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

New Year's Resolution Update

"Wow," you thought as you read this headline in a midday, coffee and lunch-induced haze... "Who's still thinking about New Year's resolutions? It's April."


As spring prepares for arrival, the promises we made to ourselves three months ago now seem like college love letters or old grocery lists: full of passion or practicality but, now, ultimately useless.

Or are they?

Punctuality and Organization

Those were my top two bugaboos back in January, as they have been my whole life. So, what better way to kick off the new year than by whittling away at old habits that die so very, very hard?

I knew going in that I couldn't change my world at the flip of a switch, but I could make inroads that, over time, would add up to something proactive. So I identified several key factors in my life that I needed to improve:

- I wanted to become more punctual (as in, not perpetually late).

- I wanted to find a workflow and daily schedule that worked for me.

- I wanted to clear off my desk and my inbox and clean up my apartment.

How have I fared these first few months of the year? Not great, but not horribly either.

Punctuality Status Report

Nope. Still need a lot of work here. (Ask my cast -- I don't think I've been on time for one shoot all year.)

- I still have trouble planning ahead for things, especially activities that require input from multiple sources.

- I still routinely show up a few minutes late for meetings.

- I still turn in paperwork / documentation / finished product at or near the 11th hour before a deadline.

However, I have learned a few tips and tricks that help me avoid the slip-ups that cause the tardiness in the first place. [Side note: does any word connote the spine-tingling shiver of gradeschool like "tardiness"?]

- DON'T check email on my way out the door. (Nothing says "ten minutes later" like one last email sweep.)

- Print out directions, itineraries, files, etc., as soon as they come in / the night before, so there's no need to rush right before departing on a trip.

- Snooze less. The extra ten minutes I buy myself after a nap could be the ten minutes in which I can get everything else packed and out the door on time.

Organization Status Report

It's not perfect -- not even close -- but my approach to keeping track of what needs to be done when, and where everything IS, is improving.

- I've narrowed my ToDo list down to one primary document, which I then (try to) update daily. I keep all ancillary ideas (STBD tasks, BootCamp tasks, bills, etc.) in separate text files, and then I (try to) review them once per week while setting up the following week's big list. That way my daily document isn't overwhelmed with EVERYTHING I have to do, and I have easy access to everything that does need to be done over the long haul.

- I've found my productive times of day for certain activities, and I try to stay within those bounds. For example, it's best to get my blogging and emailing out of the way early, get the hands-on work (like writing or editing) done during the afternoon, and then I re-fuel and return to work in the evening, where I find I can be productive until at least 3 AM.

On the other hand, my desk looks worse than it has in months, and the piles of stuff around it continue to grow. Once we're done with this season of STBD (if not gloriously sooner), I need to take a day -- or even an hour each day -- and whittle away at these towering infernos of obligation. Something tells me it'll do wonders for my psyche.

Future Outlook

So I've made some improvements and fallen short with others. Fair enough. But what happens now?

Instead of tabling the discussion until January ("I'll just try again next year..."), let's consider a few short-term goals:

- A clean desk by June 1st (talk about a long view)

- An empty "Pending" mailbox by June 1st (that's where all the items in my inbox that require more than 2 minutes of my attention get thrown)

- One week of meetings / errands in which I'm no more than 5 minutes late for anything. (Sounds like I'm planning to fail, but 5 minutes is definitely an improvement over 20...)

So, that's my quarter-year evaluation on all those sweet nothings I whispered to myself back in January. How about you?

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  • At Seton Hill, professors are actually still required to mark it down when students are absent or tardy. Sigh.

    At least we don't need hall passes to go to the restroom.

    By Anonymous Chris Ulicne, at 12:08 PM  

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