At Foodlink and Freshwise Farms, the month of January has kicked my year of service up a notch or two. I am feeling the weight of managing a project – a real project – that I responsibility for…and I’m liking it.
This post is intended to illustrate what has been most frustrating to me as a VISTA. Not to rain on everyone’s expectation parade but there isn’t a lot that frustrates me about this position. If I dug deeply, there would certainly be some irksome moments to highlight but I have had some traumatic shovel experiences so I tend to avoid them. Shovels, not the experiences. Though I guess I tend to avoid those too.
I will instead discuss my quest to focus on tasks I value and the structure I am currently imposing (in the most welcoming way) upon my life. I’ll also invite you to 3 events.
So right, I have trouble focusing. We can start there. If you asked me why my dad used to call me turtle-man, i’d probably have to admit that it’s because it takes me about 400000 times longer to accomplish a simple task than most task-accomplishing humans. I could also admit that I ran a 13 second, 100 meter split in HS track, but the nick-name was well established by then. For those of you who are less-than-good at context clues, that’s really slow. So why the slowness? If you know me, you appreciate the fact that I have an almost insatiable appetite for basically everything in the world. That quality is one that I strongly identify with, one that attracts people who want to be around a 6′ 5-year old, and one that facilitates something my dad called the art of “getting sidetracked.” You know how when you go on Wikipedia to (quickly) look up the GDP of Brazil and wake up 46 hours later with your eyeballs bleeding, only to discover that you have read the complete biography of David Cronenberg and can effortlessly recite the latin name of every single genus of frog in the Ranidea family?
That’s what my brain feels like when I walk to the bank. Or don’t, because I decide to try out for a play instead. HEY – speaking of, that brings us to my first invitation! So the other day I tried out for a play. I have done improvisational theater but have been looking for an opportunity to delve into some traditional acting. Long story short, I ended up singing Brittany Spears in an accented (Britishly) bravado about 2 octaves above my natural voice and getting cast as an old woman in a musical. It will be playing at the University of Rochester’s Todd theater from March 16th – 18th. I will have to shave, cross-dress, and be jealous of my husband. Be there.
Back to what I was saying about getting side-tracked. I’ve been doing a MUCH better job at not. Sincerely. I’ll joke all day about it, but I genuinely feel like I’ve been able to improve my ability to complete something without a billion interruptions. Let me tell you why. First, I have been treating emails like tasks, not like correspondences. If you’re familiar with it, it is entirely consistent with the GTD mentality. If not, here’s how it works: You get an email, open it, and decide how long it will take to deal with as a TASK. If it’s less than 2 minutes, I just do it right then. If it’s ANY more than that, it gets filed into the folder that represents the PROJECT the task falls under. It’s all about projects and tasks. It saves you the annoyance of sitting on your email for the day, feeling like you’re doing anything other than simply sitting on your email all day. That’s the worst. “Oh it’s 5pm. I’ve written 239 emails today, time to go home!” Nope. With this system, once you clear your inbox out with that method, you CLOSE THE EMAIL PROGRAM, look at your list of tasks, prioritize them, and start getting them done. It’s magic. And if you use something like Toodledo as a task manager (this is exactly what I do – ALL of my work tasks are in there) you can see what you’ve accomplished and how you’ve spent your time all day. Baller. I’ve also been organizing all of my resources (blog articles, websites, videos, etc.) that are relevant to my projects in a program called Evernote. Which is made for doing that. And does it incredibly well. I use a system of tags to organize all the content, each page I save gets tagged with the project it has to deal with. If you want to check out how I do it, you can get a window into my world HERE. Click on the “tags” button on the left and peruse my list of projects and associated notes.
In an effort to keep this shorter than it could be if I keep going about this, I’ll end there. As promised:
Let me know if you have questions, I love you all!