THE LIST.

Fri 2/1/2008

Okay, so HERE'S THE DEAL WITH FEBRUARY: (but wait, before I start! I really like that first "R" in February. It's "FebRuary" people, not "FebUary" alright? PLEASE?)

SO. I have been feeling pretty stressed out / unhappy / lonely / sad / etc. lately. And I know that at least SOME of that has been because of my recent (BAD) work habits.

As some of you might remember, I came up with this whole SCHEDULE thing a few years ago. And the main idea behind The Schedule is that you mentally split your day into WORK time and BREAK time. And during work time, you WORK (stay focused, look forward to the next break as a reward) and during the break time, you BREAK (actually stop working and enjoy your free time so that when you come back to work you are refreshed).

In the past this has worked really well for me, but lately I have not been doing so great with it. Instead I have been "working" (drawing illustration stuff and comics) during my working time and then during breaks I just do other work (website stuff, teaching stuff, etc.) It FEELS like a break, because I am working on two different TYPES of things, but actually it's all still just WORKING. And doing that seven days a week, from 7:30am to midnight (or later) is starting to wear me pretty thin.

ON TOP OF THIS, I have all these miscellaneous projects that I never seem to have any time for, which just sort of HOVER around my consciousness and stress me out. It seems like there is always a voice in the back of my head going, "I'll never have the time to work on any of this!"

But then, today I had this IDEA.

I took out a sheet of paper and wrote down EVERYTHING I would like to be able to do in one day. There are 24 items. Some of them are work things (teaching prep), some are things I WANT to do (like Basewood penciling/inking and scripting) and some are things that I LOVE to do but I never have time for, like playing my guitar. Some of the items are very basic, like "eat lunch AND dinner" and others are things I know I need to work on, like "leave the apartment" or "get exercise."

So the point is, I now have this LIST. And I made 29 copies of it. One for each day in February (LEAP YEAR!) And I am just going to try and do EVERYTHING on the list, EVERY DAY. (!!?!)

I know it's a little crazy, but do you see how perfect this is??? When I arrive at a break, I'll take out the list and say, "Well, I HAVE to play my guitar today, so I might as well do that now." So I'll spend 10 minutes playing a song or two. Or I'll work on the (VERY NEGLECTED) cardboard chair or on the French Translation of The Dvorak Zine or WHATEVER.

EACH of these projects is so massive, so time consuming, that I would never be able to complete them on their own. Because I would never allow myself a whole day off to work on them. But if I just do a little bit each day, I will get a lot done. I mean 10 minutes of guitar a day is an hour a week! And an HOUR is better than NOTHING. Plus I really think 10 minutes of guitar each day would make me feel so much better as a person.

ANYWAYS, when I made the list, I put some stuff on there that I KNOW I won't be able to do EVERY day ("watch a movie" for example) So what I'm going to do is just chart my progress over the month of February. Each day I will accomplish as many of the 24 items as I can, and then calculate a percentage for that day.

I didn't even come up with this idea until 4PM today, but I still managed to get 21 of the 24 things done (88% !) So I'm off to a good start! Wish me luck!

9 comments on this entry

Wow that is certainly ambitious! I wish I had that option but unfortunately a good 9 or 10 hours of my day are taken up by my job if you include commuting time (though I do draw comics at lunch). I wish I had the fortitude or whatever you would call it to draw on the train but in a packed car I just can't imagine it. At most I am able to commit to 2 maybe 3 hours a day of drawing (with 8-12 hours on weekend days if possible), and it pretty much HAS to be comics in order for me to ever get anything finished for cons. I can hardly remember the last time I drew something in my sketchbook for a reason other than to prepare for a comic. Then again I do spend about 5 hours a week at hapkido but I have to get up at 5:30am to make that happen! It's nice having a hobby so rigorously scheduled though, so it's not as hard to make time for it. Plus it gets me out of the house so early that I have an extra hour before work for COMICS.

Liz Feb01

Man, I have so much respect for how hard you work Liz! I know it is MUCH harder to work on comics when you have a 9-6 job (plus commute).

I guess most of this scheduling stuff is just trying to prevent me from going insane, because I have to set my own schedule, and left to my own devices, I don't ever take a break. Not leaving the apartment for a week straight is enough to drive anyone nuts!

Alec Feb01

Good luck Alec, and give us an update on March 1. A list of 24 items that you HAVE to do every day sounds pretty stressful to me!

Josh F. Feb01

You are, far and away, the most efficient person I have ever met. It's amazing how much you pack into a day. If I get some homework in after work and have time to cook dinner and play with the dog, it feels like I've gotten a lot done, even though there is a lot more I'd actually like to be doing.

Can you even fathom how people have time to have CHILDREN???

Laura Feb01

Alec, have you ever heard of the book "Getting Things Done"? A lot of your time-hacking techniques remind me of it. Once you get past the buzzwordiness of it, you can find tons of great ideas for how to stay productive and calm. I would paste a link to Merlin Mann's intro to GTD but I am writing this on my phone, so please google it some time! Keep up the great work!

Your fan,
Bill

wvh Feb01

I used to work with someone who pronounced it "Febbawery." Which was followed shortly after by "Mawch."

Arlene Feb03

Josh - I will!
Laura - NO.
Bill - I haven't, but I will!
Arlene - Sewiouswy??? ;)

Alec Feb04

I DARE you to put "do nothing" on your list. I recently realized that this is not only very hard for me to do, but very rewarding. Sit and breathe and let go of all the "have to" thoughts. Forgive me, my hippie/massage therapist side demanded to be heard. Love you.

L Feb05

LNS - Only for you will I add "do nothing" to my list. I will do my best, but it will easily be the hardest thing to do on there!

Alec Feb05

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