work thoughts & a media compromise
last weekend, my father asked me on the phone whether my 5-day media cleanse had any lasting effects on my internet habits or overall media consumption. sheepishly, i had to admit that other than a rather intense media binge (rebound effect?) the day i allowed myself to return to my precious google reader, the answer was no.
part of my voracious appetite for internet distraction comes from the fact that i am in grant writing mode and therefore NOT occupied all day by patient responsibilities and the pager. while one might think this would render me able to unleash razor-sharp focus onto the task at hand, that simply has not been the case.
✰ am i trying? yes. promise!
✰ do i need to try harder? yes.
it’s not that i am not getting anything done — yesterday i completed a draft of my specific aims page and submitted that as well as my background (“significance” section in NIH-speak) section to one of my advisors for review. i am sticking to the plan of attack (as i write this, the first three checkboxes have been marked off!).
but i KNOW i could be using my time better, and that i am in need of finding better focus. i have had little tastes of “flow”, but the majority of my hours are filled with little distractions and i do not feel like i am producing my best work. brainstorming a few ways to improve, i came up with the following set of guidelines:
ways to find flow and increase productivity in PROJECT mode
✔ craft a clear set of daily goals. for me, this means — you guessed it — another list! perhaps it seems ridiculously simple, but having in front of me exactly what i would like to accomplish in a given day is a huge help in keeping me on track.
today’s list excuse the blurred-out patient names!
✔ intersperse harder tasks with easier ones. it would be unrealistic for me to attempt to just spend all day today writing my ‘approach’ section from start to finish. i would get burned out, tired, and frustrated. instead, i will create a loose outline for that section, but will also do a variety of other (less mind-bending) things.
✔ become a CONSCIOUS media consumer. translation: i have to stop randomly checking email or hitting up blogs and websites every time i get an itch to do so. since just increasing awareness of my addiction via the media cleanse was ineffective, i think setting more concrete limits is in order.
— on weekdays, i will open my google reader once and only once daily, in the morning.
— i will limit checking email to specific break times (usually to be done upon finishing tasks, as a reward of sorts.)
i think the above guidelines are a good compromise, and i hope they will help me to work better (and ultimately feel more satisfied with the job i am doing).
what do you think of the above plan? does anyone else set rules for themselves to help avoid distractions and find better focus? further suggestions/comments are welcome!
10.25 + 26
i didn’t want to put monday’s dinner at the bottom of the running page for obvious reasons, so today we have a double header . . .
workout: monday = rest day; tuesday = 45 minutes elliptical + weights (pushups, squats, lunges, hamstring curls, pull-downs, and forward/lateral raises)
real simple dinners, continued confession: every time i write ‘real simple’, i have an urge to change it to ‘realLY simple’. the grammatically incorrect title drives me absolutely batty. oh well — i still enjoy the recipes!
on monday, i whipped up their version of chicken paprikash.
not an aesthetic masterpiece, but an enjoyable, homey meal
tuesday i made a variation of their shrimp with white beans and toast recipe.
it may look innocent, but their recipe called for 6 tablespoons of butter (!?) to be spread on toast. ummm, no thanks. i used about a tablespoon to sautée the shrimp, white beans, and arugula, and instead spent my daily allowance of saturated fat on a piece of delicious local artisan cheese. i also added golden grape tomatoes from our CSA box for a pop of color and extra veg. nutrition.