Thursday, November 10, 2016

How Effective is the System?

How effective your system of organization is depends on how well it works for you, obviously. But is there a critical mass? In other words, how many different things can be going on at the same time before the system starts to break down? Or how many before the system remains intact but you're no longer able to manage the things that need to be done? This is the point where you need to examine exactly what it is you're trying to accomplish. Sometimes you don't have any choice. The meetings are what they are. But sometimes it means examining the projects you're involved with and determining if they're worth remaining involved in, in the context of everything else that is going on. This is the point where you can start to examine the time you voluntarily invest in things. Involuntary things are those things that land on your schedule because they're either non-negotiable or they are scheduled by others. Voluntary things are those things you willingly take on. That you sign up or volunteer for. I have had to make difficult choices in the past about withdrawing from things I voluntarily became involved in, but it was the point in time when I needed to focus on other matters at hand. This created a little bit of cushioning in my schedule by which I was able to take on more of the involuntary workload. The problem is that the involuntary has now grown to where it is nearly overflowing. So what to do when this happens? Well, for the last two months or so I have been spending one full day each weekend creating a compartment where I can store all the work that needs to be done on my dissertation and address it then. Now I'm in countdown mode, with only a few days left before the dissertation. I am at a critical point where compartmentalization has become more important than ever, because I need to be in the moment with the other things that need to be accomplished so they can be fully addressed and then set aside so I can devote all the time necessary to the task of finishing the dissertation work. It is Thursday now, and thankfully tomorrow is a holiday. If it wasn't, I'd be in a bad position because I have a deadline tomorrow night that I need to meet. The system I have for managing my time has worked, but there was an unexpected addition of a set of revisions that meant I needed to be able to insert them somewhere. And my schedule has just grown and grown in complexity to the point that I have very little space in which to add things. If anything, this experience has taught me more about the value of time management, and the importance of having a system that allows for unexpected additions. I can masterfully craft my schedule so everything fits, but then if I do that I'm missing the blank spaces that might be necessary when the unexpected comes up. It also means I'm missing the time for myself and my family. I take a step back from time to time to examine where I'm at in my life and what I'm doing, but I'm not able to make any changes at this point because of the situation I have created. Merrie and I need to make a requisite amount of money to keep the machine going. But do we? This house, our belongings... the more I think about our situation the more I realize that we have to a large extent created this situation by investing in our 'stuff' that we have accumulated. At some point it might be beneficial to engage in a prioritization exercise, and to really examine what it is we have and what we need in order to keep things going. We need to provide for our boys and we need to take care of ourselves. But when I look at things like cable television, I question the value. When I consider that I'll be going into loan repayment it worries me in the context of all the other things I already have to pay for. For the bills we already have. For the fees we have to pay for the investments we've made in this stuff, that now needs to be maintained. It would be an interesting exercise to just look at all of this and put it down on paper, and then see what we could cross out.

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