Bill Farrar

Portfolio Site and Blog


August 23, 2012

So, yesterday’s post was about scheduling, and I broke my schedule yesterday (although I may make a refinement of it to allow for Wednesdays).  As far as things go, yesterday was a four-checkmark day when I was done, which is good enough. It just wasn’t the checkmarks I’d planned on.  Add that to a bout of self-doubt and feeling like a fake/failure last night, and I’m not excited about how my day went.  So today, I need to be productive and get the wheels back on the road.

So we’ll start with one of the things I didn’t do yesterday, namely: write about my schedule.

I admit I do very well with a regimented day.  I’ve got a morning routine that gets everything done and me out the door (or I did, anyway).  I had a rhythm to my day, and that helped.  Since I worked in a job that was very flexible in its duties, there were a lot of varied things to be working on, and having a schedule helped me to focus on which ones I’d be working on, and set aside certain parts of the day for that. It didn’t always work, as I also had to respond to emergencies or support calls, and those can’t be scheduled. (I.T. WISHES!)

When I was unemployed the last time, I didn’t have a schedule, and I also got very depressed, so I slept a lot.  And my schedule rotated around. If I didn’t have my family and my time obligations with them (date nights, gaming nights, that sort of thing) then my schedule would have been worse. I still have that kind of structure, but I can do better.  As I wrote, on Sunday I sat down and wrote down four major projects.   Then I broke them down some into larger tasks, and the closer in tasks got broken down some more in to check-mark worthy chunks.

I changed my alarm from 5 to 6, since I don’t have a morning commute anymore.  My commute was the one time I regularly walked (to and from bus stops), so I added in a morning walk, which I still need to figure out how long it is. After that, I shower and get dressed. A mundane element of my schedule, perhaps, but it means something to be clean and to be dressed.  It means I’m not just lazing around, and I’m here to do some work.  Breakfast is in there as well (still finding it’s best spot, and with the dotter starting school this may be a bit flexible for now).

Then I sit down at my task lists on Any.Do and I decide which things I’m doing every day. I’ve got coding, writing, and job-finding tasks I can do at my computer, and a house-cleaning task for each day which also needs to get done. Today, for instance, I’m pulling the couch out and going on an archaeology mission. I mean, cleaning out from under it.  But more on cleaning tasks later.  They are an important part of the depression-fighting, though.

Hopefully by 3 or 4 o’clock, I’ve gotten 4-5 check-marks.  Then I can assess how I’m feeling: Am I almost done with a task? Am I at a good stopping point? Is there anything urgent that still needs doing?  Whose cooking dinner? At that point, I can unwind — I’ve probably been working for 8-9 hours at that point, so it seems fair.  That leaves my evening open to relax, recharge and focus on my family.  Yesterday, I did that part in the middle of my day, and came back to it later and got one or two things done.  That might be okay, but it’s much harder to relax during those times that I haven’t quite finished yet — as there’s always the chance I won’t get them done.

The other reason that that afternoon review is important is that part of this isn’t just getting things done, but me knowing and acknowledging that I got things done.  One of my goals is keeping my spirits up and depression at bay, and you can’t do that unless you keep self-aware of what is going on.

Bill Farrar
Bill Farrar
Full stack developer with over 20 years in web technologies and over 30 years as a software engineer and designer. Senior systems analyst and team lead, spending time running projects and mentoring peers.