A Too-Long To-Do List

I pride myself at being the model of efficiency. At times …I really am. At times, I feel in control and in that state of “flow” where I feel like Neo at the end of The Matrix when the bullets appear to be moving so slow he casually leans out of the way as they harmlessly pass by.

Today, however, and for about the past two weeks, those bullets are hitting their target …me.

How does one dig out? How does one regain control and get back out in front of deadlines and projects and ideas?

This is probably an age-old dilemma. My to-do list is longer than I have hours in the day. My cognitive load is at it’s breaking point.

Cognitive load is a term most often associated with individuals learning something. I’m not in training or anything like that, but I think it can also apply to the modern-day worker who is trying to succeed at work while also succeeding at home as a father, as a husband, while simultaneously trying to pursue a passion-project (writing, golf, model train, pick-up soccer game, exercise, etc).

Last I checked, each day is only 24 hours. Seven of those hours need to be for sleep, leaving 17 hours for everything else Eight solid hours should go to the job, right? For me, an hour is spent commuting. Hmmm. So that leaves 8 hours for me.

When I put it that way, I guess that’s lots of time. What do I do with those 8 hours?

Many time management experts say a person, a person who feels crunched for time, should journal all their activities in a day …including the social media stuff and small talk. This exercise does one of two things …(1) it forces you to waste less time when you feel guilty logging something like, “stood and watched the coffee brew in the kitchen for 4-minutes,” or, “wiped down and dusted my desk at work for 3-minutes,”. Or, this exercise (2) shows you all the things you do and how you don’t group and cluster the activities, so you essentially are your own worst enemy.

Today. I will journal. Actually, all this week, I’ll journal. First thing on the list …7:55 a.m. – 8:20 a.m., blogged.


Learning Something Every Day

Inspiration can strike at any time. Today it happened for me at the dry-cleaner just after 7:30 a.m. when I picked up my shirts and a suit.

My dry cleaner had a little newspaper sitting there by the cash register. At first I laughed. I thought to myself how foolish and what a waste of time it is for a company to publish a little newspaper.

But then a headline jumped out at me and the article that followed blew me away.

I wash my bed sheets weekly. Check. We wash towels in our house, it seems, daily because the standard practice of my three children are to just drop them on the floor after they’ve been used and by the time my wife or I find those towels, they sometimes already smell musty, so into the washer they go. Oh, and my one daughter has no concept of “my towel” and will use whichever towel she can reach.

But …the pillow? Should be washed weekly(ish)? I thought I was good replacing my pillow once a year, but according to the cleaning experts at my dry-cleaner and their intrepid reporters, I’m laying my head down nightly on a germ factory and dust mite cemetery.

Today begins my 21-Day Blogging Challenge with Jeff Goins. My goal is to take simple things and blog about them, and offer a lesson.

What did I learn today? Respect other’s voices. Hell …I’m a guy with a blog and was part of founding spunkybean, a website about TV shows. And I want people to read and marvel at my wit. This newspaper at my dry-cleaner is someone else’s fun/good idea. A co-worker telling me about their commute or their recent conversation with a client …there’s a reason they’re telling me and I should listen.

I’m going to do a better job of respecting others voices and their stories. I’m going seek opportunities to learn and grow in more moments in my life.

So today, I didn’t just learn I should wash my pillow more, but I should lower my defenses and open my eyes and ears more.

Will you do the same?



Follow me at @donkowalewski

Living Deliberately. Blogging Intentionally.

There’s this concept called “living deliberately.” It means not letting life just sorta happen to you, but instead, controlling everything that happens to you (that you can). Things like when you wake up, if you exercise, whether you enjoy your job and control your workday, or it controls you (your time, your mind, your sleep).

Do you hit the snooze bar? Then you’re not living deliberately. And I’m talking the figurative “snooze bar” on your life and dreams, projects at work, phone calls to friends, as well as the literal snooze bar and when you wake up. If you want to get up at 6am, get up at 6am. Don’t set your alarm for 5:40 and hit the snooze 2 or 3 times and then get a late start.

Imagine a life where you make deliberate, well-reasoned decisions on just about everything. Wake at 5:15am. Walk the dog and listen to something interesting for a half-hour. Shave. Shower. Floss. Make coffee.

For me? This also includes “writing.” I like myself better when I’m writing. Super blogger guy, Jeff Goins, understands what I mean. It’s why I’m tackling his “21-Day Blogging Challenge.” It starts on October 8th. I guess this blog is my jump-start.

But, Don, you say. I’m not a blogger. It makes no never mind. Blogging for me isn’t totally about my becoming a writer. It’s a brain dump. As Jeff Goins also points out in his entry “Why You Should Start a Blog (Even If You’re Not a Writer)”, by organizing my thoughts and forcing myself to coherently communicate them in writing, they go from some random thoughts inside me head to deliberate, clear ideas I can see and read on the page. Some ideas don’t seem so great once you put them in writing and that’s OK. Other ideas turn out to be better and take shape once you force yourself to express them in a way that someone else could understand.

I’ve blogged for a long time. I’m going to keep blogging. And I will accept this 21-day challenge and see how the thoughts look once they get out of my head and onto my blog.

Follow me at @donkowalewski