The Ideal Day

I’ve fallen back onto (off of?) the productivity article ladder. After swearing off reading massive articles about productivity, passion, and how to “Get Things Done ™,” I found myself wondering why Firefox was so slow in loading this morning. Turns out I had a few too many tabs open.

Over 100.

Each one was a little jewel of wisdom that would solve every problem I could ever have if I were just to read every one of them. If I went through and read every article about productivity, I’d be a Working Jedi, dodging blasts of work and getting things done with minimal effort. I saved all of these articles, letting them stack up in my tabs, using the new tab groups feature to just hide large sets of them away.

There are lists of best organizers (I’ve tried them all), 10 ways to be more productive, 100 best lifehacks, step one is showing up, step two is doing. It’s just article after article that are sitting there, opened sometime in the past month so that my future self could get my shit together. Unfortunately, as I’ve talked about before, Future Self is now Myself, and that guy doesn’t want to read them either. They stay open, taunting, telling me that I could solve every problem if I were to just open and read all of those tabs.

After Firefox crawled open, I thought I should read at least one of them. After reading about 1/2 way through, they linked to more productivity articles! I opened them in new tabs as well.

By the end of reading one article, I had 6 more tabs open.

Not only was I failing at being productive, I was failing at reading about being productive. How do you even do that?!

Today, I closed all of those articles. Again. I cleared my history so I couldn’t even get back to them. None of them had any new answers; they were just an addiction, like video games, the Internet, or complaining on my blog. Things that I do to avoid whatever perfectionist fears that I harbor. I did something different instead.

I was looking ahead to the beginning of my school year. I’ve got about 3 weeks until I have to hit the ground running, and I still have plenty to take care of so that I don’t fall flat on my face on day one. I decided to take some time to visualize and think about what I want to be on the first day of classes. Where I want to be, what I want to have done, and on what ball I’d like to be perched.

So, I made a list. A list of things that I wanted to be complete on August 25. A list of things that would make me feel like I was ready to roll on Day 1.

Like any time I make a list of goals/ideas/whatever, there’s always the chance of setting myself up for failure. When I started jotting things down, all of a sudden items like having entire giant projects complete started to pop into my mind. Seriously, Brain? You think I can complete entire papers and projects in 3 weeks while trying to get everything else done?

Why sure, said my Brain, and if you don’t get it all done, you’re an abject failure! In fact, if you don’t everything on this list done, as well as things you couldn’t possibly think of, you’ll be a failure as well!


My brain, apparently, has been watching too much James Bond.

Making a reasonable goals list is hard. Putting things that are too small on it? Feels like cheating. Putting things on it that are too large? Completely unattainable. Finding a balance is something I’ve never been good at, but hey, I’ve been doing a lot of changes, so I guess this counts as a change as well.

I have a new list. It’s not the best list, and it’s definitely not a perfect list. It’s a start, though. It’s a list that includes a bunch of little things, some big things, and a good idea of where I want to be in 3 weeks. Things like getting a syllabus printed up and making sure to buy books. The important thing, though, is that they’re all attainable.

What’s your ideal first day of something? Where do you want to be in three weeks? What concrete things can you do (big and small) to make you arrive at a point, feeling confident in everything you’re doing?

We’ll see what happens August 25.

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