A Little Extra

Sept. 24th, 2018

My husband keeps track of his habits with a spreadsheet. Each day and each habit intersect and he fills in that cell to indicate that habit was completed for that day. One of the habits he’s built is called “Advanced”. This is anything that challenges him and is above the usual. One or two days he has regular things he does in this category, but mostly he comes up with something unique each day.

As he watched my struggles with productivity, scheduling, and various systems, never feeling very satisfied in many areas for more than a few days, my husband has suggested I adopt a version of his system. Instead of having specific times in a day when things happen, just do them whenever I have time. This doesn’t work for me in the vast majority of cases because I will just procrastinate, but I have found one way it does work.

I have an overwhelmingly large amount of things I want to do, create, change, and attempt. I’ve never been a very productive person and with the advent of my new way of eating I’ve been spending a lot more time in the kitchen. I’ve often felt lately like I’m not getting anything done beyond the immediate and urgent. I think I may have found a system that will help me be and, more importantly, feel, more productive on a day-to-day basis.

I’m building that same habit of doing something “advanced” every day, although I’m calling it “extra effort”. They aren’t things that challenge me, it’s the act of squeezing them into a day that’s the challenging part. The field of things that qualify under this heading is pretty broad, but it basically falls into two camps:

One, doing something I already do every day, but I more than usual. For example, I have a daily writing habit and if I do two paragraphs instead of one, that’s more than usual. Two, if I work on a project that wasn’t scheduled in. For example, I’m having a hard time figuring out how to work Dungeons and Dragons prep into daily life, so working on that is extra effort. I’ve gotten to the point in my life where I’m doing the essentials more or less consistently, and now I’m building in that next level.

I’m also keeping track of what projects I’ve worked on in the extra effort category. That way when I go to pick what I’m going to put effort into next, I can rotate through them so I know all my projects are getting attention.

This is a pretty slow way to make progress on things, but it’s more than I was doing before. More than that, it keeps the projects in my awareness. I have a chart of the five I’ve chosen to be active right now and it’s easy for me to see what’s in my crosshairs.

So that’s it, a pretty simple concept, but proving to have staying power for me.

What would qualify as extra effort or advanced in your life?