Down Time and Deep Projects

It’s finals week in the university where I teach.  All time changes.  The papers that we knew were coming, all semester, get written, and get read.  The finals which we knew were coming, all semester, get taken, and get graded.  All the departmental work that has to get finished before the summer is getting shoved into extra meetings.  All the doctoral candidates who are graduating give their presentations.

It’s always like this. 

And yet we always seem surprised.

I’m having a pretty good time this year, though.  Instead of leaving everything till the last minute — my usual method — I’ve been doing it in bits.  This is obviously a superior method, but to be honest, I’m not doing it because I’m choosing a new method.  I’m doing it because I was already relaxed and cheerful.

This is one of the foundational issues of time management that fascinates me.  I say often that no time management system in the world will cause you to want to do what you don’t want to do — THAT change has to come from someplace much deeper than a system for getting things done.  You need a system for either figuring out what you want to do, or figuring out how to enjoy what you believe you need to do even if you don’t want to do it, or both.

I went into finals week already feeling detached from worry and stress, and focusing on enjoying bits of the day, rather than stressed out about the immense amount of work I had to do.  And I ended up naturally using what looks like excellent time management skills.

But it’s something else altogether.

Anyway, because of this I had time to go check out Study Hacks this morning, so I got to read an older post about the rhythms of work, and the need to free up our time from the nonessential “busy” stuff, so that we’ve got oodles of time to fall into our deep work.  Our writing, our thinking, our meditating.

Well, that makes sense.  All the energy spent on tasks not related to our most cherished goals is energy spent, and therefore time spent, away from what we most cherish, what we’re learning, what we’re practicing.

1 Reply on “Down Time and Deep Projects

  1. “I say often that no time management system in the world will cause you to want to do what you don’t want to do — THAT change has to come from someplace much deeper than a system for getting things done.”

    That may be the most productive thing I’ve ever read. I paid a life coach $200 a thwack when I was trying to write my dissertation and couldn’t figure out why I was such a time-waster. This needs to be put on a banner and flown from the bell tower of every university.