Have fun with this week's inspirational nugget and technical article.
Inspirational Nugget of the Week
I'm not getting much done at work, recently. Same for my side projects like this newsletter. I almost didn't write this newsletter you're reading just now, because I didn't have a topic ready to write about.
There are different reasons for my lack of productivity: at work, I feel that there's a lot of context switching. We also have some new teammates whom I want to give guidance so they don't get overwhelmed by the corporate context, which takes some time. For my side hustles, I haven't been planning my mornings like I used to, so I've been procrastinating a lot.
To pull myself out of this slump, and to restore the fun in my work, I'm trying to establish the habit of "shaping tomorrow". Here's what I do.
Block 15 minutes every day: After every workday, at around 5.30 pm, I now have 15 minutes blocked in my calendar with the title "Shape Tomorrow". The intention is that this calendar entry reminds me that the workday is over, keeping me from working too long, and also to have some time to review what happened today and to plan what I would like to happen tomorrow.
Update today's calendar: In these 15 minutes, I first go through today's calendar and update it to reflect reality. I try to add everything to the calendar that happened today. If there were unexpected interruptions, I add them to the calendar retroactively. If things that were planned for today didn't happen, I remove them from the calendar and replace them with the things that I actually spent that time with. The result is only exact to a resolution of about 30 minutes, but it reflects reality close enough so I can get a feeling about where my time has been spent. I'm hoping that after a few weeks of this practice, I can look back and decide whether I'm doing the right things. I can then use my calendar as a resource for making data-driven decisions.
Update tomorrow's calendar: Next, I look at tomorrow's calendar and plan some focus time for specific tasks that I want to (or have to) get done. Each task gets a dedicated entry in the calendar to remind me that this needs to get done. Deciding to do one thing but not another is mentally draining and a prime reason for procrastination. So, I'm making these decisions for tomorrow's tasks today, at a time when I'm not inclined to drag out the decision, because I want to get the day over with. Tomorrow I "just" have to work off the plan I made. I leave some space in the calendar for unexpected things, but, even then, the day never goes as planned, which is why tomorrow evening, I will go over the calendar again and retroactively update it to reflect reality.
I've had some success with this rather simple habit of updating today's and tomorrow's calendar. After a day that didn't feel very productive, I can now see where I spent my time and get some satisfaction from it, after all. And in the mornings, I can dive right into the work, instead of wasting time deciding what to do, avoiding procrastination.