In order to stay aware of where my focus and energy are being used/wasted, I decided to break up my To Do into various possible iterations. All of these iterations are still based on my values and long term goals but arranged in a way so I can maximize my productivity.
In one way, I’ve modified the very popular Time Management Matrix illustrated here. The problem with that set up is, nothing in my life can be isolated by “urgent/not urgent” or “important/not important.” Why? Everything feels urgent and important. I have to finish my damn dissertation and pop out a baby within the same few months aaahhhhhh!
However, things in my life can be isolated in terms of necessary energy levels.
Plan A: Yeah! High energy + everything goes as planned. Here is where I note 1-3 tasks that are linked to actual research/writing and demand high focus and mental energy. Plan A is the only plan that changes daily like a basic To Do list.
Plan B: Yawn. Moderate energy. Maybe it is 3pm and I’m sleepy? Maybe I’m having weird pregnancy coma/illness? What should I do now?
Plan B (like C and D) will not change much but it is a way to direct myself towards more fulfilling things. For example, I’ll collect previously written notes on the next topic I’ve planned to write about into one giant file (right now they are all scattered in different processing/note taking apps). Sorting and preparing notes, revising, and reading secondary sources involve moderate focus.
Plan C: BLARG. This is for extreme illness (bed ridden) or if I’m having an anxiety attack and can’t do much other than mindless activities.
This one is tricky but if it is in the afternoon, I’d return library books, recover/consolidate photos and copies, returning library books, recovering and consolidating photos and copies, go to the gym, or do the laundry. If it hits me later on, I’ll just get ready for bed early, take a shower, and watch a Japanese drama (listening practice).
Plan D: Shit! Something came up and its 10pm and I did nothing! Oh, you mean like today?
Shut it down for the day and put all things away properly. Review my plans for the next day. Read a physical book that reminds me of my goals (like The 7 Habits). Don’t beat yourself up over it.
I’ve made physical copies of the 4 plans and left them inside my desk. I pull out which ever one is needed at the moment and revise them as needed.