Saturday, January 01, 2005

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! It’s the traditional time of year for deciding what you want to accomplish in the coming year. Here are two books which will help you do that. Really.

The first is The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play by Neil Fiore. If you procrastinate and want to stop, buy this book. If my testimonial doesn’t convince you, go to Amazon and read the rave reviews there.

Oy, have I ever had a problem with procrastination. You have no idea. What I did last semester was tell everyone that I couldn’t go out, I had homework to do and then I’d intermingle doing homework with trying to make myself do homework, missing out on fun. I even managed to drag an assignment well out into the summer- it was humiliating.
Before this semester, I read Neil Fiore’s book, (and I’m going to read it again,) and the main thing I remembered was to work in half hour increments and plan something fun to do each day. It sounds like a small change, but it dramatically increased the quality of my life. The first thing I noticed was how much work I could get done in a half hour. It was astonishing. I also noticed how hard it was for me to quit at the end of the half hour and take a break. It made me want to get back to what I was doing. My days felt more balanced. My semester was more enjoyable, I went dancing a lot more and I got more done. It was also interesting to come face to face with a desire for perfection that I knew was there from side-effects, although it wasn’t very conscious. One time I made myself turn a very imperfect paper in, one that would be on the internet for all my classmates to see, and go to my regularly scheduled fun activity. It was so hard to send that in. I felt embarrassed but just took a deep breath and tried to take a “let the chips fall where they may” attitude. Interestingly enough, my teacher gave me an A and said it was a good, well thought out paper. What?! I can have fun and still get good grades. It is like unto a miracle. Fiore mentions a study about students working on their thesis. The ones who did the best job the most quickly, worked on it the least hours and had the most fun. A nifty paradox, try it out yourself if you find yourself saying no to something fun so you can stay home and organize your pictures. It really works and its very freeing.

Next book: Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
by David Allen. While the hallmark of Fiore's book is warm discernment, the hallmark of this book is clear thinking. This is the clearest thinking I have ever read about organizing incoming paper and to-do items in all my live long days. One thing he says that sticks in my mind is that you can’t manage time, but you can manage the tasks you do in time. I am still working on the seamless implementation of his ideas. I can’t wholeheartedly recommend the Getting Things Done Outlook add-in, but I can wholeheartedly recommend this book. The methods in this book helped me take the GRE, apply to grad school, and move me and my possessions in a few short months.

More tips from Neil Fiore. Notice how there are some similarities between his tips and this old post of mine? I love it when famous people have the same ideas as me (or the other way around.) I feel so smart.

Wishing you the ability to thouroughly enjoy your new year,


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