Friday, January 22, 2010

Meeting myself once a week

In November of last year, I started a new habit, in my effort to change my life. It had to be an easy habit that I can commit to, but that could make some significant difference. If you're familiar with procrastination, then you know how easy it is to make plans but fail to take consist action. My habit was just to sit with myself at the end of every week, usually Sundays, and make a plan for the week ahead.

To make sure this one habit will be a real, consistent one, I had to commit to it, regardless of whether or not I will actually do my tasks for the week. All I need to do with the undone actions of last week is just review them and take note of what wasn't done, then move the undone to the following week, along with any new tasks. Some weeks were totally unproductive, sometimes two consecutive weeks were as unprodutive as it can get! Ok, no problem, I take a note that the previous week I did nothing, and move the tasks to the following one. Just this idea of focusing on the practice regardless of the actual accomplishments was a little breakthrough for me that helped me stick with it without any problems.

I also decided to do the planning outside, usually during breakfast or lunch. I go to a place that I like, get my coffee and write down the plan in a notebook. This increased the ease and fun of the habit, the only things that can trick us into breaking out of strong habits into new ones, gently but surely. 

The mere reviewing of the week at its end, and seeing that nothing was done was helpful. The repetition of this reviewing eventually leads to action, even if small, since it boosts one's awareness of the passing of time. I find that my main problem with planning was forgetfulness and lack of focus. Time goes by too easily, and we can spend months without making any change or progress in our life without even realizing it.

Again, this didn't result in any quick, phenomenal changes. But over the past 3 months, I finished many tasks that have been put off, some of them for long months. Little by little, this practice allows me to "hold" my time. We can't shape or use anyhing elusive, we have to have some control over the material we're working with. Time can be very hard to hold and take control of, and therefore manage. Logging and reviewing how we spend it can be very effective in helping us regain this control.

So, to summarize the process, here is what I did:

1- Break down time into units: I choose weeks. One day is too short, one month is too long.

2- Schedule a weekly session to review last week's plan and decide which actions to be done during the following week. Commit to this session even if the previous week was a total waste of time.

3- Simply move undone actions to the new week ahead.

4- Make it into a fun date with yourself! Don't do the planning at home, go somewhere nice, get your food or your drink, think and write down your plan.

5- Use a convenient medium that's always easy to access. I don't recommend our computers, the time to open it, wait for the OS to download no longer seems like a good idea to me.

1 comment:

gehad mashaly said...

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