A day into my resolutions, and I'm already learning things . . .
My caffeine dependency is greater than I realized. I find myself watching the clock, waiting for that last hour to go by before I get another cup of coffee . . . especially right after lunch. It's not that I'm sleepy -- I just feel the compulsion to go get that extra lift. I'm almost positive now that over-caffeination contributed to myÂ concentration problems.
Just committing to stay in the chair for a set period of time had a positive effect on productivity. I noticed how often the compulsion to get up and walk around was prompted by momentary delays, like a login process taking thirty seconds. I did not find staying in place to be as difficult as I expected. It made me much more aware of distractions from my workday, though; I became a lot more irritable when the kids would come barging in, and I'd find myself watching the clock as phone calls and other household distractions impinged on my attention. Even with close attention to my time, I figure I lost at least an hour of productive work time to nonsense.
If you're going to break a habit, you need to figure out ahead of time what behavior you will replace your compulsion with. It's a lot like directing a child: it's a lot easier to tell a three-year-old to "come over here and build with me" than "stop hitting your brother." Inhibiting a behavior is harder than redirecting it to something else. I wound up replacing my Scrabble interludes with writing blog notes, but I don't think that will hold up forever. I probably need to find some eBooks to put on my Treo PDA.
Interestingly, by staying more concentrated on my work during the day, I felt less inclined to be pleasantly distracted by things like Scrabble. Distractions tend to adhere to the distractable. Once I was in my work groove, I just wasn't in the mood.
The end of the work day is a very bad time to plan to do an important-not-urgent task that you don't want to do . . . like writing your billing notes for the day. I just don't have the psychic reserves at that point to gear up for it. I may have to move that task to the beginning of the following day, when I have more gumption to tackle it.
Scheduling an explicit time to do particular tasks is an excellent way of finding out that your excuses for "not having enough time" were largely just that: excuses. When I consciously set aside the time to work on certain SKS duties I dread (like porting the website to a cheaper provider) I found out that I really just didn't want to do it. It was dreadfully fascinating to watch my mind spin out new rationalizations for not doing it, once the time obstacle was removed. Once again, I have encountered the perils of trying to rely on willpower at the end of the day, when willpower is at low ebb.
The biggest payoff from all this was the level of my conscious awareness of what's going on. All the constraints I had implemented were making me very aware of what I was doing, every moment of the day. Even though it felt tight and constraining, it also felt wholesome and good. "Now the eyes of my eyes have been opened . . . "
I didn't know you in college, Georg, but I can certainly echo the same sentiment.
While I don't have a caffeine addiction and I don't play lots of Scrabble, it's plenty easy to substitute those things with my own compulsions and circumstances. Your observations about your resolutions and tendencies are helping me to reevaluate my own. I think I'll be coming back to read this particular post on a regular basis. Thanks.