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Monday, October 4, 2010

Do One Thing a Day

Ok. I know what you're going to say. I can't do just one thing a day, I have twenty or thirty things to do each day.

What I mean is this: COMPLETE AT LEAST ONE SIGNIFICANT TASK each working day. Let's break this down.

"complete": finish it OR make substantial progress (it it's a long-term task)

"at least one": not half of something.

"significant": A large chunk (significant) of an article, the writing of a syllabus, a complete revision of the cv., the grading of an entire set of papers, a peer review of an article...

"each": not every other working day, not every three or four days...

"working day": a day on which you are working, a day that counts toward your total number of working days.

Now this is going to be very hard, though it seems easy. You say you need to do twenty things a day, but you aren't currently doing that many truly significant tasks, right? I thought not. You're going to concentrate on bringing something to completion or doing a definable portion of a larger task. If you do at least that then you'll be set. Imagine a 5 day work week. Suppose in that week you've made significant progress on an article, you've graded an entire set of papers, you've written a letter of recommendation, you've read your colleague's tenure file... You've had a very productive week.

I'm wondering about whether task management or time management is the key. In other words, is time a distraction, when what we really want to do is get things done? More on that later.

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