I was reading through some of the “Personal” category over at TwentySidedTale, and tthis article really speaks to me … except that for me that seems to be my natural state instead of something that occurs periodically. Right now, I have a long list of games to finish, a full reading list, a number of blog posts that I want to write and projects around that that I’d like to start, commenting to do on the books that I am reading, work around the house to do, exercise to do, decisions about taking classes and/or degrees to settle, and even some programming projects that I’d like to poke around with (like learning Flash). And when I get the time or even schedule in the time to do them, I don’t feel like doing them. Instead, I tend to surf the web a bit, read Star Wars books, and watch DVDs.
The really bad part of this, though, is that I read more where Shamus was pointing out all the things he was doing — and managed to finish — and compared to what I do and what I’ve done what I do is, well, somewhat pathetic. Okay, sure, there’s that Master’s degree in Philosophy that I got, and the courses I’ve taken in Cognitive Science and at the PhD level in Philosophy, but when he was working he did the webcomic, kept up on his blog far more than I do, managed to do programming projects, and a number of other things, like spend time with family. And it can’t be explained by that extra 1.5 hours in a day that he managed to get back from working from home, because that’s only about an hour a day for me and I still don’t come close.
The time from January to the end of May doesn’t count that much, because I was generally working every day because work was in a massive crunch. But even since things have slowed down I haven’t even started the things that I was supposed to be well into by now. Sure, things messed around with my schedule, but why is it that I’m so bad at working on my projects? Where can I get the extra time to actually do some of them?
Well, a big part of it is motivational, and what I posted about before: I’m much more interested in the outcome than in the process. When trying to lose weight, I’m interested in losing weight … not in exercising to lose weight. Which is one reason why taking long walks to get somewhere and get something — like my long downtown trips or walking to class — works so much better than scheduling Wii Fit time or walks. The problem with this is that there are things where I enjoy the process and don’t care as much about the finished product, like writing on the blog, reading philosophy, or playing games (unlike Shamus, I don’t seem to like programming enough to do it just for fun, so the process isn’t as interesting to me as the final product). And yet, I haven’t played ME2 in over a week, and the last game I played was TOR. So, even in these cases, why can’t I do it?
A big part of that, I think, is that most of the things I want to do take dedicated time to do … or, at least, I want to dedicate time to doing it. To play TOR, I like to have about a 3 hour block. The same thing would apply to programming or writing in general. For ME2, I want more than an hour. Exercising would take about an hour. But I don’t always have such nice, convenient time blocks. There are other things I have to do that I have more commitment to that also take up time. By the time I work through those, my scheduled time block is a lot shorter and so I tend to decide that it isn’t worth it, and decide to do it later. Any delay either in starting some of these tasks or completing other ones also turns that on its head. Be even a little tired and decide to rest first and I almost always end up dropping it for the day.
Even the blog hits this. Because I have small blocks of time available at work, I tend to read blog posts and the like at work. But since I don’t switch between tasks all that well — hence the requirement for larger blocks of time — writing comments and posts tends to take too long to do in those small periods of time. So, instead, I end up watching videos on SF Debris in my spare time, figuring that I’ll write it all up at home. Except when I get home, I’d have to find the articles and then take the time to write about them, making it a longer time investment. Which I also have to do while doing everything else. Which shortens the time block and makes me decide that I can do it another day, because I’d like some time to rest in the evening. Which puts it off further. Which makes the time to find the articles and start writing even longer. Rinse, repeat.
For me, sleeping and eating is also a problem. I tend to get pretty much exactly the amount of sleep I need overnight … if I sleep from the time I go to bed to the time I wake up. If I don’t do that, then I can’t catch up on that, which makes me more tired and want to nap more … which takes time out of my spare time, which leaves less for my projects. Eating, in theory, isn’t a big deal … except that on weekends I tend to eat one big meal a day, and after a big meal the last thing I want to do is jump up and do something else. I used to take about 3 hours to eat (ie one full DVD), which would almost always include at least one nap. But I don’t think that I can afford to lose that much time anymore, but when I’m really tired I can nap for that entire time and longer, and I probably shouldn’t skimp on my catching up sleep.
Ultimately, a lot of this comes down to motivational failures, and my not really considering these things important enough to take the time to do them. But my time management and my discipline also need work; I’d be able to do more of these things if, in fact, I’d just set out a better schedule and then actually follow that. I got through ME doing that, and Dark Shadows, so I can do it … for things like that, at least. I just need to do it for other things as well, and more consistently.
I’d try to reward myself for doing it to add motivation, but it’s hard to see what I could do that for except for exercising, where I can use a food treat but make myself walk out there to get it … but that probably wouldn’t help the diet thing. For everything else, anything I would reward myself with is actually on the list already …