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Gus Van Horn blog

Reblogged:Scheduled Seized Moments of Thinking

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Cal Newport passes along a strategy that one of his friends uses regarding new obligations:

Instead of maintaining endless to-do lists, when he takes on a new obligation, he puts it on his calendar: scheduling a specific date and time when he will tackle it. As he clarified, this approach applies even if the obligation is just to "think some about this topic." [bold added]
thinking.jpg
Image by challis 007, via Unsplash, license.
If you have had your schedule trashed by the government's inane response to the pandemic like I have, you might think something like, Yeah, that's great, Gus. Get back to me when I even have a calendar again.

I admit I did. But I bookmarked this as something worth looking at again, anyway, and I'm glad I did. Things do seem to be moving, haltingly and erratically back to semi-normal. But I remain very concerned that the state will again respond like ninnies to any increase in cases -- which will happen since, you know, it's an epidemic. And lots of people with too much power simply do not know how to think about this situation.

Nevertheless...

If I am going to criticize Democrats for wanting to make everyone sit on their hands until there is a vaccine (if there ever is one), I have no business waiting on them to come to their senses before I start planning things again.

I remain limited in the kinds of things I can accomplish for at least another month, but my hands aren't tied behind my back, either, and Newport's post helped me realize that. (Related thought: This all started out as temporary, lulling many into a waiting posture, while making it harder to adopt the more appropriate one of adjustment.)

Specifically, the part in bold helped me realize that I could plan to use a short block of time each day to think about how I can begin regrouping now, so that I'll be ready to hit the ground running once things are better enough. For the time being, I'll commit to carving out about half an hour at whatever time I can get it.

When I first thought of this, it felt like an act of defiance against injustice, and it is. And then I realized it could be a useful habit under any circumstances. It is also that. But there is more than those two things.

Newport points out that his friend "is acknowledging that he has a limited amount of total time to spend on tasks." His friend is also a manager, while I am a maker, with all the differences in time management that that implies.

I will never -- or rarely -- schedule every hour of every day. To the extent that things get back to normal, I will replace big time blobs of watching my kids with big time blobs of deep work.

But new ideas and opportunities will keep coming, and I will still need to think about them. Giving myself permission and a specific amount of time every day to do this will be a good strategy going forward, and will be a good way to maintain perpective.

I'd rather do this at regular times, but I'll take doing it when I can as a start, and perhaps I'll learn a few other things by doing so.

-- CAV

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