Week 12/2022: Schedules suck

Week of 21 March 2022

Schedules suck

This week I went to one of TAFE’s workshops on adult literacy tutoring that they’ve been running as an introduction to the literacy and numeracy course I’m doing. Yes, I’m doing it a bit backwards because it’s meant to be a taster for the course, but I thought it would still be a valuable thing to do, and it was. Some of the material helped to solidify what I’ve been learning in the course and it was great to hear stories from other people about their experiences with literacy and numeracy issues.

It got me thinking about my experience in high school maths. I was good at maths, so, maybe, not surprisingly, other people would sometimes ask me to explain how to do things. I always struggled with this. I might have been good at maths but that’s because I got it. But I didn’t know how I got it, so I had no chance of explaining it to anyone else. It ended up being frustrating for me and for them because for me it was simple and obvious what to do, but I could never actually explain it—because what was obvious to me wasn’t obvious for people who were struggling.

This all came back to me during a conversation in the workshop. I came to the conclusion that if you’re trying to explain something to someone and you start with the words “all you have to do is . . .”, chances are they’re not going to get this at all. Because if it were as simple as you think it is, they’d already know what to do and wouldn’t have had to ask.

So every time I go to start a sentence with “all you have to do is . . .”, I need to stop myself and ask if it’s really as simple for the other person as it might be for me. That was a big learning for me this week.

What did I want to do this week?

  • Continue my TAFE work (catch up on the unread articles) (thing 8)
  • Make an appointment to do last year’s my tax return
  • Review the Mindspot Week 2 material (thing 1)
  • Do the exercises from Unit 2 of the Urban Geometry photography course
  • Now that I’ve upgraded my Evernote, tidy up all the tasks in there (part of thing 12)
  • Refine my morning planning routine (part of thing 12)
  • Continue the offline trial at least two days during the week (part of thing 12)

Did I do it?

I didn’t catch up on the TAFE work but I did go to the workshop and I worked on this week’s material. I suspect I may never read the unread material though . . .

I revisited week 2 of the Mindspot program and reminded myself about how to challenge the negative thoughts that cause me to become distressed and anxious. “Thought challenging” is where you look at a negative thought and ask yourself things like whether the thought is actually true and whether there’s another way to look at it—and if the outcome you fear is actually likely to happen. It’s about getting a more realistic perspective about something I’m catastrophising over.

It’s a technique that I keep forgetting in the moment when I’m dwelling on a negative thought and I’m not sure how to keep that front of mind when those types of thoughts come up. I suspect this will be a work in progress for a long time.

I contacted the accountant but haven’t heard back from them. I’ve made a start on tidying up my Evernote and getting rid of the duplicate tasks that are all over the place. Not surprisingly, this is making it easier to find things.

And I did the photography exercises. Here’s an experiment from a phone photo of a place I need to go back to in better light so that I can get some more shadows and contrast.

An orange wall with a darker orange panel and a green stripe
Urban geometry experiment 1

What worked well this week?

The morning planning ritual is going a lot better now that I’ve started to go over my outstanding tasks the night before and make a list of things I need to do the next day. It isn’t taking a long time and it doesn’t feel as rigid as it used to.

Having days where I don’t check email first thing is also good because I can get straight into the work I really want to be doing without getting distracted by “busy work”.

What didn’t work so well?

It was still a frustrating week and I had to do a lot of tasks for other people, which were unrelated to the main project I’m supposed to be doing, but I got them all signed off at the end of the week, so that was a Big Relief. I hope this means next week will be better.

I didn’t quite stick to my 5.00 shut down every day but most days I got there by 5.30. I also did my end of work review and made a semi-plan for the next day every afternoon I was at my desk, which, as I mentioned before, has made the morning planning go a lot more smoothly.

I say “semi-plan” rather than schedule, because much as I love making schedules (like, I REALLY love making schedules), I refuse to stick to them and always end up doing something else. They do not work for me.

Apparently, this is a thing for people with INTP preferences, as I wrote about a couple posts ago. In his book The Productive INTP, Paul Peters suggests that I (as an INTP) have probably followed advice to create a daily schedule. “You’ve probably always liked the idea of a schedule,” he says, “but at the same time, when the schedule for your day was sitting in front of you, you hated it”.

Um, yes. This is exactly what happens.

Paul suggests that the reason for this is the war between the introverted sensing (Si) and extroverted intuition (Ne) functions of this personality type, which I wrote about previously.

In a nutshell, introverted sensing wants the predictability of a schedule and extroverted intuition wants to burn the schedule to the ground because, once a schedule is in place, it excludes all other possibilities for the day.

Paul writes,

How are you to hold yourself to a perfectly predictable day when you have this stronger disdain for it? The more you plan your day, the more the possibilities of it disappear. What’s the fun in that?

His advice is to set out a vision for the day, work out what you want to achieve, and write a to-do list rather than a schedule. He says this allows you to work on any task you want to and, once you’re done with that, you just ask yourself what you want to work on next. Then you go and do that. (Which is, I imagine, where the Pomodoro timer comes in handy for keeping you on track.)

He notes that this suggestion goes counter to most other productivity advice, but he reminds you that this is INTP advice. “Most other types wouldn’t tell you to structure your day like this because, well, this isn’t very structured. And that’s the point.”

The Cosmic Calibration course (thing 22) also had some ideas about routines and schedules that I’ve been taking on board. One of these is the idea of practising a solid routine for a while, using my introverted sensing in a constructive way just to get the rhythm into place, but not being bound to it for so long that my extroverted intuition gets the shits with it and throws it out the window. It’s been working for my morning planning and my end of work reviews and, as I’ve been going along, I’ve been getting a better feel for what works. Then I can figure out which pieces, I need, which ones I don’t and which ones I can adapt.

This is a far better approach than following the advice I got with the structured morning planning routine that I tried to rigidly put in place last year (I think it was thing 20 of my 21 for 2021 list). I completely hated it but felt like I had to stick to it because this is what all the productivity experts say you need to do to build a habit. I pretty much quit as soon as my 66 days were up. As I said earlier, my planning session is now semi-structured and it doesn’t take very long at all. And, I’m actually doing it.

22 for 2022 summary

  • Things completed to date: 5 (10, 11, 13, 18, 22)
  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things I worked on this week: 4: (1, 8, 12, 21)
  • Things in progress: 4 (1, 8, 12, 21)
  • Things not started: 13 (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20)

What do I want to do next week?

I’m going to carry on with the things I was working on this week.

  • Continue my TAFE work (catch up on the unread articles) (thing 8)
  • Make an appointment to do last year’s my tax return
  • Review the Mindspot Week 3 material (thing 1)
  • Do the exercises from Unit 3 of the Urban Geometry photography course
  • Tidy up the tasks in my Evenote (part of thing 12)
  • Keep working on my morning planning routine (part of thing 12)
  • Continue the offline trial at least two days during the week (part of thing 12)

Weekly summary

What did I learn this week?

I learned that there is a creature called the Kaputar Pink Slug (Triboniophoris nov “Kaputar”), which is only found at Mount Kaputar, northern NSW. How cool is that!

What was the best thing about this week?

I had a few good things this week. I loved the workshop and I loved making this photo.

An Art Deco building with a pink sky backdrop and tall thin tress in the foreground
A change from my normal sunrise photos

I also had the chance to write a practice article for a friend, which is the first chance I’ve taken to use the skills I learned in the freelance writing course I competed last year. I really enjoyed doing that.

What I’m reading this week

  • Find Your Unicorn Space by Eve Rodsky

Habit tracker

  • Days I went for a walk in the morning (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I did my morning planning routine at work (Goal = 4): 4
  • Days I did controlled breathing (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I did jaw stretches (Goal = 7): 5
  • Days I did my post-work pack up routine (Goal = 4): 4
  • Days I worked on my art (Goal = 2): 2
  • Days I read a book (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I went for a walk or did other physical activity in the afternoon (Goal = 5): 6
  • Days I shut my computer down before 9.30 (Goal = 6): 5
  • Weekly review at work: Yes
  • Weekly review at home: Yes
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