Big Thing Challenge: Day 2

I apologize for not posting yesterday with updates. I was late getting back from Tae Kwon Do and I was more interested in sleep.

But, anyway. A learning experience both yesterday and today. I am feeling apathy. I’ve been slacking for two days, yet I don’t care. This is normal. I’ll go through periods of crazy-you’re-going-to-kill-yourself work, and periods of ‘okay, I am going to do this,’ and periods of ‘you could shoot me and I still wouldn’t do this.’

I’m in the last of these categories, and while days are whizzing by (36, if I’ve counted correctly),  I’m still thinking along the lines of present comfort, not future serendipity.


Update yesterday: very little work done. I got barely got through the outlining stages, because I couldn’t think of any literature that had mutual respect in a friendship in it. Except for Gilgamesh. And I didn’t read that. I googled, but that didn’t help much.

Update today: The big challenge was to finish Ion Creangă’s Amintiri din Copilărie, but that didn’t work out very well. Suffice it to say, I put it off shamelessly and didn’t get more than 10% through the book.

The big thing(s) tomorrow?

Write a rough draft of the friendship essay.

Finish the book.

It’s two things, but that will help.

Firstly, I’ll watch a bit of a Romanian interview which will prime me for re-understanding Romanian first thing in the morning. Then I’ll read the book until I reach page 50, after which I’ll turn to the friendship essay and, if I have to, make up examples. After all, not everyone read EVERYTHING on the planet. And then back to the book, then back to the essay, until it’s finished.

Should I actually do this, I give myself full permission to babble incoherently and watch Sword in the Stone.

Productivity Challenge Day 5: Summary of the Productivity Challenge.

38 days left.

So the challenge was… an underachievement (I refuse to use the word failure because I didn’t fail: I learned a few things). The only day I actually hit 5 work-hours was Day 2, Thursday. I didn’t use the internet less than 2 hours every day (and if I did, then I was reading romance novels for eight hours. Never let it be said that I am not gifted in the art of frittering away my life.)

So, because I was lacking in the simple self-discipline of making myself work for 20 minutes at a time 16 times a day, I refused to write a blog post as well.

Okay, well, I wrote a pointless blog post every day for a year. (You can see it at And those blog posts only had a word requirement. These blog posts will help me make something of the nonsensical directions my life seems to be taking. I hope.

I realize I’m getting off the point. I didn’t sleep much last night and I have a headache now. I’ll cut to the chase. These are the things I learned: 

  • The more you put something off, the more icky you feel later. (The price of self-discipline is always less than the pain of regret. I have no idea who said this first, but it’s definitely true.)

You’d think I’d have learned this before now. It’s been presented many, many, many times over the past two years (at least). But I haven’t learned it yet. And, as in Cherie Carter-Scott’s Ten Rules for Being Human “Lessons are repeated until they are learned. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it, you can go on to the next lesson.”

Obviously, I haven’t learned this lesson yet. Maybe next week.

Summary of the Productivity Challenge:

“Work 5 hours a day. Write 2 short essays, 1 long essay, and add 10 events to the historical timeline a day. Spend less than 2 hours on the internet a day.”

Summary of my progress:

5 things to do. 5 days. I completed 1 of those things on 1 day. So, 4% progress.

The next challenge:

One thing I think I have learned is that you have to try new ways of doing things, and that you can’t give up. Funny, I hadn’t thought of that until now. So the next challenge. Do one big thing each day. This challenge will run from April 1st, Monday, to April 7th, Sunday.

Tomorrow’s big thing: Write a 30-point 150-300 word essay in literature.

Productivity Challenge Day 2: Semi-Success

42 days left.

I may or may not have mentioned this, but I use an iPod app called Eternity. It tracks your time for you. I’ve been using it since October to track every single action I do. This is how I know exactly how much time I’ve been spending on what… and it helps me piece together what I’ve been doing.

So, without further ado.

Today started off fantastically. I woke up, and the first thing I did was reach for my history book. Instead of twenty minutes, I read for 25. I got up, said my prayers, and got back into bed to read a romance novel. After all, until 8am, I had time to do WHATEVER I wanted.

At 8am I got up, went to my desk (still in my pajamas) and answered biology questions for 23 minutes. 

Then I had breakfast. Simply working at schoolwork for 48 minutes before breakfast hasn’t happened to me in years. I was… crazy happy. Jumping around, bouncing, etc. 

The day progressed pretty slowly. We live next to a church where the bells start ringing from 7:25 in the morning to 9:30 at night, every half hour. So whenever the bell started pealing for :00, I set aside what I was doing, picked out a subject, and went to work for 20 minutes. Sometimes I worked more than 20 minutes, but mostly I stuck to the schedule of ‘learn, break, learn, break, learn, break.’

(I’m trying not to make this a blow-by-blow account, but it’s hard to think of a way to make this interesting).

All went well until lunch time. Before starting school, I asked that Mom restrict the lunch hour from 1pm to 2pm. We only ever spend 25-35 minutes at the table, but this allows Mom some leeway in case a meal doesn’t want to be finished exactly at 1pm, and it allows me to block off an entire hour for a break. But– the current schedule asked that I work from 1pm to 1:20pm. Lunch started promptly at 1pm, so I set aside work and went down to eat. I returned to my studies only at 2:30pm, to do some history. I basically managed to catch up to my current time until 4pm, when I decided to ‘skive off’ a bit more. When I sat back down to do physics, I got a FB message.

A friend who had his wisdom teeth taken out had PMed me to ask if I was busy. I said, ‘no, I’m just doing some physics problems on and off.’ He said he was just looking for some conversation, because he couldn’t do anything but lie down with his face on ice. So I offered to give him a summary of what I’d learned in history so far. Not only would it help me (history is in Romanian and he only speaks English; I’d have to not only organize the material, but translate it as well), but it would give him something to do.

So, skipping around my basic knowledge (ancient origins of Romanians —straight to—>  revolts and kingdoms in 1800s+), I gave him what I knew. It was really helpful, because by translating, I had to look up certain things, make sure I had them right. I got to cement the knowledge I already had.

Afterward, I totally relaxed until about 10pm, when I read a bit more of history.

Total work hours: 5:17:48

Total internet time: 4:26:44

Total events added to timeline: 1.

Total essays written: 0 (I outlined two, though: one for literature and one for history)

This is already getting too long, so I’ll just say that, despite the fact that I spent 4 hours on the internet… (this is really important) IT WAS LESS TIME THAN I SPENT STUDYING!

I’m really happy with today.

Tomorrow all I’m going to try is to make sure that I’m actually getting an essay written. I think 5 extra minutes for thinking out an essay will help, instead of trying to put it all into one block. It’s really hard to find examples.

Productivity Challenge Day 1: A Learning Experience

I can’t remember who said it– Sun Tzu or some Greek general– but no battle plan survives contact with the enemy.

And boy is it true. I woke up this morning and instead of going straight to prayers and getting dressed and reading some of my history book (the easiest, most relaxing patr of my studies), I lazed in bed, found a book on my iPod (in English), and basically wasted away the entire morning.

… yes, it’s a bit sad. But, like I mentioned yesterday– nothing, absolutely nothing, will make me do something unless a) I want to do it, b) I’m heartily bored of everything else.

In the end, boredom drove me to do some schoolwork. Not much. A bit of history, a bit of outlining, answering some biology questions, doing part of a literature test, and reading more of the history book.

Total work time: 2:05:56

Total internet time: 1:09:12 <- points to me

Total events added to timeline: 1.

Total essays written: 0.

The upside about all of this is that, when 4pm hit, I crashed against an idea I probably should have had ages ago. Instead of working in huge chunks (which I’ve found, over the years, don’t work for me), I should be working in small chunks.

So, here goes. Tomorrow, every hour on the hour, I’ll do 20 minutes of work. With the exception of meal times, from 7am to 9pm I will be doing these 20 minutes of work. The other 40 minutes are mine to do with as I please. 

All I have to do is break through the barrier of not wanting to do anything. I’ll extend the chunks as needed.

A New Challenge

A good friend of mine is doing this, and I figure it’s a great way to get productive. At least, it’s working for her. 😀

The problem with me is that while any productivity system will work wonderfully for a period of time… in the end the only thing I fall back on time and again is the motivation or the self-discipline to make it work. Productivity systems… do not work for me.

So. Here it is. I have 44 days until May 7th, when I’ll be heading out to Romania. (Actually May 8th or so, but I figure that 44 days is better than 45). That is just over 7 weeks.

I’m going to commit to 5 hours of work a day for the rest of March. After that, I’ll take a short break on Monday, assimilate things, and add on another hour. I’ll be spending no more than 2 hours on the internet a day. I’ll reduce this further in April.

I’ll also be aiming for:

  • 2 short essays a day
  • 1 long essay a day
  • 10 events added to the timeline a day