Sunday, October 6, 2013

Do ALL the Things!

I have this problem where I want to read ALL the books! The ones that have waited quietly on my shelves for years. The ones I bought last week at the thrift store because they were two dollars. The pile I checked out at the library because I was in the neighborhood and couldn't resist. And the ones I don't own but I keep hearing are really good.

But my problem is multifaceted. I also want to run ALL the miles! When I drive by where I do my long runs, I want to go for a long run. When I see a track, I want to do speedwork and race the 5k again (what is wrong with me?). When I see my running shoes in the closet, or wherever I happen to have left them, I want to go for any kind of run.

I also want to write ALL the blog posts, short stories, and novels. I want to do ALL the Bible studies. I want to watch ALL the TV shows and movies--ones I haven't seen yet or Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings for the 10828th time. I want to cook ALL the recipes and make ALL the crafts and finally use the sewing machine I bought two years ago and left in its box.

Obviously, I can't do ALL the things at once.

Running is one of the easy ones: I wake up early to run, and I leave the house and run until I'm finished. But studying the Bible, reading, writing, even watching movies, well, those activities suffer from what I used to think was a short attention span. I start something with every intention of finishing, or at least making good progress, but halfway through, or even a few minutes in, I get bored and do something else. And then the day ends and I haven't made much real progress on anything in particular, and I get really frustrated and vow to do better the next day. And then I don't.

But blaming my "short attention span" is kind of a cop-out, huh? It's an excuse, something I pretend or even believe is fixed and unchangeable in my personality. As far as I know, this is not true. I can train myself to focus. It's called discipline. And that is my goal.

Here are some steps I'm taking to reach it:

1. Cutting Internet time. I added an extension called Leechblock to my Firefox browser. (If you use Internet Explorer, Chrome, or Safari, I'm sure there is something like this for you as well). This will block certain websites (I chose Facebook, Pinterest, etc.) during certain hours of the day, and will cut me off after 20 consecutive minutes during other hours of the day. Because Internet time is, for the most part, unproductive time for me.

2. Planning ahead. Meal planning is the main thing here, because sometimes five o'clock rolls around and I have no idea what I'm going to cook because I was too busy jumping from activity to activity that day, so I get frustrated and give up, and we eat chips or order pizza for dinner. But I'm also going to start keeping a calendar to help with my planning ahead, so that, for example, I don't have to spend an entire day doing piled-up laundry because I need a particular outfit for a social event that night, and manage to get nothing else done that day.

3. Scheduling. I will probably never be the sort of person who runs my life on a to-the-minute schedule. But I am also apparently the kind of person who doesn't function well without a schedule. So I am going to start setting aside chunks of time to do the things I need and want to do. And then I'm going to hold myself to those times. For example: I would like to write at least three blog posts a week. I might set aside time to blog everyday, and even though I won't publish a post each day, I will get something done, like work on a future post or come up with new ideas.

If you know me in real life, feel free to hold me accountable. I'll welcome it! If you've conquered "a short attention span" in the past (or if you're a professional time-manager who is gagging at my amateur scheduling skillz) and you have tips, leave them in the comments!

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