My to do list for the 8th of January 2019 had four items:
- Attend ECM.
- Write draft of CUTL assignment, edit videos and photos, write the assignment and submit it.
- Email G about postponing R’s oral exam.
- Update examiner’s reports and send it to V.
What did I actually get done? The Entrance Committee Meeting started at 10.30 am and was done by 2 pm. I thought it would finish at 3 pm so I had an hour to work with. I had started the draft of my CUTL assignment at 9.30 am and had to leave it at 10.25 am to attend the ECM in the adjacent building. I got back to the draft at 2 pm after sending the one important email I needed to send for the day. I know some of you would laugh at just this one email but really and truly that was the only email I needed an action on.
I took a call around 2.30 pm from the secretary who said one of my PGs wanted to meet with me. In turn I had to say sorry I cannot see the student. I have to do this a bit more…not see PG students. Sometimes they waste my time when I need it most. I did agree to meet at 3 pm. What I did not say is that I will see them in the lab.
I was in the lab between 3 pm and 5 pm chatting with PGs who are also TAs, then with the senior scientist of the lab. No, I did not account for this on my to do list.
I got back to the draft of the assignment at 5 pm and worked until 5.45 pm. I edited the videos and photos at home. That took me from 7.30 pm to 11.30 pm. Four hours because I am incompetent in video editing. I had to install free software and learn how to use it. Again, I did not account for this on my to do list.
The only task I did not touch were the examiner’s reports. I can do that another day but by January 11.
A task should be a single task
Task #2 was actually 4 tasks in one. This task should have been a mini-project and only one of these tasks associated with the mini-project should have been on my to do list. Just drafting the writing is a chunk of time.
Several tasks lumped as one to do item will result in you not getting the item done. This is demotivating and causes you to lose momentum. However, momentum and consistency is key to success.
So, I need to get better at chunking down my work so that a to do list item is a single task.
Get better at estimating the length of time for each task
Discounting the one email, the three tasks I performed ranged from a minimum of three hours to a maximum of four hours. It seems these tasks are time consuming.
I need to get better at estimating the time for various tasks so that I maximize my output each day.
Only three tasks per day
The to do list can get unwieldy with too many tasks.
The to do list is really a tool to help you focus on the critical tasks for the day.
So, I’m going to put only 3 main tasks to accomplish by the end of the day. One of these tasks is a writing task, one an administrative one, and one a personal goal task. I’m an academic so yes I got this flexibility. Don’t judge my short to do list.
Write your to dos on the correct day’s page
I write my to do lists by hand. Yesterday I realized that I wrote my to do list on the page for the day before. I need to continue practicing writing the to do list on the correct page. I’m off now to set up my pages in my notebook.