Some Lessons About Making Myself My Job

Setting tasks is more important than setting time

I had originally set up blocks of time that dictated what I would do and when, but I quickly realized that I will be much better off making clear lists of actual things to do and then doing them whenever it makes sense. For instance, I’ve been taking my 30 minute walk in the afternoons or evenings. That routine works for most days, but today, knowing it would be a hot day, I decided to walk after my morning workout so that I could make use of the cooler, morning weather.

While I will still try to do my main exercises and writing in the mornings, there are some days when it may make more sense to read a play first or get some other small tasks done while having my coffee and then settle into writing a bit later. This is especially true now that I’ll be staying with other people for most of June instead of establishing my own routines in my own home. However, regardless of where I am, the problem with tying tasks to specific times is that if, for any reason I miss that particular window of opportunity, I feel like I am off the hook for that task since I have to move onto other things.

Vague Goals are No Goals at All

This whole, “learn to program” thing is way too vague. I had no specific tasks associated with it last week, just that I was supposed to spend 8 hours/week working toward it. This week, I’ve re-adjusted my plans and created a project called “Write an iOS Application.” For this week, I will be doing 4 lessons from an online source about programming in Objective C and I will be reading and taking notes on the first 4 chapters of Aaron Hillegrass’s Cocoa Programming for Mac OS X (3rd Ed.) Giving myself concrete items to do, means that I can have a much better sense of progress and structure. Over time I will be adding lots of tasks to this project, but I have an endpoint, something concrete and specific that will indicate when the project has been completed.

The same can be said of my work for school that I had originally just lumped in with “other” things to do in the evenings. The truth is that I’m going to want to use evenings for reading and watching movies rather than doing various school related work. So I am making sure that each day, Monday – Friday, I accomplish at least two tasks related to my upcoming preliminary exams, intro to performance class, and directed reading on the avant-garde with Bruce. Additionally, I am developing a syllabus for a class I’d like to teach on sex, violence, and death in theatre and performance, and I recently had a good idea for a Theatre Topics article that I need to flesh out and draft. All of these are projects and, as such, need to have specific tasks and goals associated with them, and, for those without deadlines—like writing an iOS app or that TT article, some kind of reasonable time frame.

All in all, my first week on the job was not a rousing success. If I were to grade myself I’d get a C-. However, I did learn some things and hope to get at least a B this coming week.

On this day..