I am ready for the first day of school, but I wish I had been ready earlier and without the pressure of the deadline hounding me. I had thought of what I needed to get everything done, and fortunately I had all my ideas, documents, and supplies at hand when the time came to pull everything together. And I knew when the deadline was and how much time was available to me. So what was the problem? Why did I have to stay up and "cram" for this "final exam"?
There are three quick reasons I can think of. One is that I am a creative person first and foremost, and I am easily distracted from the drudgery and the mundane by activities or ideas that have creative potential. In other words, I find it is more fun to think of new ideas and invent novel projects than it is to sit down and actually complete the work that the project demands. I want to be the idea person, and I need some assistants to do the work. Once upon a time, I worked with the perfect personal assistant, who was the best paralegal I ever worked with. She thought as I did and anticipated what I would need to have done. What a marvelous talent she had for organization and concentration. This reminds me that I should give her a call. She could probably tell me what I need to do to solve my overworked status.
Another reason I was not ready for school earlier is that I am a busy person (and I just returned from a "vacation" and a music festival out of state). After half a century, I still cannot figure out if I am busy because I have high energy and need constant stimulation, or if I just do not know how to say "no" in an effective way. I suspect that it is due to a combination of both.
Another reason is that I frequently underestimate the amount of time that I need to complete the tasks on my agenda. I believe that this is a pretty common occurrence for many folks. The Pareto Principle, or the 80-20 rule, probably explains this, that 20% of something is generally responsible for 80% of the results. Dr. Joseph Juran called it the principle of the "vital few and trivial many." The idea is that we would do better to focus on the vital 20% to produce our 80% results. I have a sinking feeling that I am spending time doing the 80% and producing only 20% of what I am capable of accomplishing.
Would it not be great to reduce life to a mathematical formula? Actually, doing this might help in many ways. For example, when I plan how much time to allow for me to get ready to leave for work in the morning, I assign times to certain categories:
- 15 minutes: dogs out (I have 10 dogs in the house)
- 30 minutes: ranch animals (10 alpacas, 4 donkeys, 3 chickens, 1 horse)
- 15 minutes: feed dogs, out again
- 30 minutes: shower and dress
- ____?____: driving to destination
Wait! You know what? I am still rushing around to be on time. Fortunately, all my clocks are set ten minutes ahead to give me a ten minute cushion. I still rush anyway.
So now, I have added the "SR Factor," or the stress reduction factor. Just as we loosen our belts one notch to ease the pressure of a heavy meal, so the SR factor works to ease the pressure of a deadline or appointment. I set the value of my SR factor at 15 minutes generally, and I enlarge it on those days when I have an important meeting or event to attend or if I anticipate unpredictable traffic. The SR factor helps me account for those things I frequently forget, such as the time I need to walk to and from my car at either end of my journey, or the sociable greetings I need to return in the faculty mailbox room, or the unexpected phone call that delays me as I head out the door.
My suggestion for the future, in order to avoid similar weekends of open-ended and never ending projects, is to reduce them as much as possible to a finite time period and include an SR factor.
Wishing you a relaxed SR factor week! I am home in Texas once again, and I have good Internet and cell connections once again. I am eager to resume a regular writing schedule. Send your ideas and comments about topics!