Phew… the last weeks have been a complete mess… My habits are getting loose, some of them really, really loose… I’ll try to see it as a small break from self-organization. I hope that this boosts my motivation from now on. Let’s crush it!

I announced in my last post that I wanted to try a new approach to my job schedule.

My job allows me to have a flexible schedule. Often the problem for me is the absence of dead lines, so commonly days ended up passing by, many times feeling that I didn’t advance much. That’s why I devised an alternative approach to time organization of my working hours, that I called project-based schedule.

What is a project-based schedule?

In opposition to a time-based schedule, which would consist on working a fixed amount of hours every day, a project-based schedule sits in the notion of completing projects (or mini-projects) before moving on to the next activity, whether it is pure leisure, personal projects or more work (yeah, high-five all you workaholics!). Let’s say that I am writing an article (scientific articles need a loooong time…). According to a project-based schedule, I may decide to work as intensively on that as I can, until I finish it. Only after it is finish, I’d take some time (maybe several days) to relax or to do whatever I want.

What happened?

In brief, I tried the project-based schedule for about one week. It was a total failure. My plan was working as much as possible in the draft of my article until I can handle it down for review. It failed in that I just had to stop working at some point. After a certain amount of hours working, my brain would just reject working any more on the manuscript. It was fed up. I couldn’t follow the schedule, so for instance I ended up working less and producing less than what I would in a time-based schedule. For instance, while trying to work on Sunday, I ended up spending several hours playing videogames, and procrastination was in every corner of my day.

Why didn’t it work?

I can think of a few reasons.

  • The work that I had to do was unspeakably boring. I just hate writing scientific manuscripts, so at some point I just need a break. Maybe it would be possible with a more exciting activity. Sure it should work with having fun šŸ™‚
  • I may have overestimated the time that I can devote to this activity in a row, i.e. I engaged in a project which may have been too long to make it without a good break in between.

There may be more reasons, but these two are the main ones that I can see so far.

Can it work?

Would there be a way to make this schedule work? Well, for sure. But the rules should change, and I see that in this change, the schedule would become something similar to the MIT based schedule proposed by the ZTD method. I assume that the main cause of failure, at least in my case, has been ignoring: (1) a need to rest my mind after a few hours of dull work, and (2) the overestimation of my will to endure long working sessions. So, what changes could be made to make the project-based schedule work?

  • Work on really short projects, mini-projects, that can be completed in a very short time. This would be equivalent to MITs.
  • Take regular breaks to rest, hang out, evade, as soon as the need to procrastinate is appearing too often.

And for heaven’s sake, enjoy your life and don’t work too much. Particularly if your work is not a matter of life or death for anyone.

Once I go back to my tracks with the current habits, I’ll come over here again to talk about the next habit.

So stay tuned šŸ™‚