Polyphasic Day 7, and time management

2011-01-10

Day 7 started off slowly. I woke up promptly at 4am after 3 hours of core sleep, but then for some reason I decided to stay in bed for “just one more minute”, and then woke up later at 6am. I find those early morning hours the hardest.

After that, though, I managed to get productive right away. Since my day is segmented by the 4 naps I’m planning to take (8am, noon, 4pm, 8pm), I’ve decided to use this segmentation to help with my productivity. During each section of the day, I aim to get a certain minimum amount of work done, and then the task seems a lot smaller. If I say that I want to get 10 hours of work done today, it sounds scary, but if I just get 2hrs done in every segment of the day then I’ll have 10 total.

To this end, I’ve written a list of available tasks on my whiteboard. Today, I’m only allowed to choose items on that list. Reddit is not on that list ;). So, at the top I have my main tasks, which are related to studying Dutch. I have 8 possible Dutch-studying activities I can do, which is important, because if I get bored of one, I want to switch to another Dutch activity instead of switching away from Dutch entirely.

Next on the list are my “reward” tasks. For every 4 half-hour units of Dutch that I complete (4 pomodoros, for those of you who have heard of the time management system), I’m giving myself 1 unit of reward activity. Most of these are also related to language stuff, but in another language that I want to do some work on (like Polish or Esperanto). Having something to look forward to after the other tasks seems helpful so far.

After that, I have a list of tasks I can do while I’m on break. Stuff like “cleaning the kitchen”, “pushups”, “stretching”, “cooking”, “go problems”. These are things that I can do for 5 minutes at a time in between my work units, just to do something a bit different, and occasionally as an aid to staying alert, if I feel drowsy.

Finally, I have a list of “once per day” items, which includes checking email, browsing twitter, and playing solitaire on the computer. I don’t really need to do these activities today, but it’d probably be ok if I allowed myself to do them each once (and hopefully this helps prevent me from filling my day with them).

So far, my average amount of language study per day has been 3.5 hours (spread over various languages). My 7-day running average has gone up to 4.25 hours, and I expect to see that rise further as I better adapt to the sleep schedule. My hours have been boosted by having easily available tasks, such as watching “Star Trek: Voyager” dubbed in German, which is something that I can also do together with Chani since she’s working on German.

Ok, time to get back to work! :)


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