Archive for the 'scheduling' Category



December – is there a crazier month in the whole year?  Is there a busier month?  Is there a more stressful one?  I sure can’t think of a single one that rivals December in any of these ways.  It is essentially a jumbled combination of end of the semester projects; the stress those bring; holiday shopping, planning, and baking; new year planning, and end of the year cleaning.  And, what’s even worse is that amongst this mishmash of a million little tasks, this is also the time for reconnecting with friends and family.  This season, which was once meant for relaxation and recharging I am sure, has become for many of us the most troubling time of year. 

The holiday season isn’t something you can schedule (though this year I have been trying – check that post out here).  It is more of a feeling, a mood, a state of mind.  Yes, scheduling in an hour of holiday fun time a day can get you in the spirit, but the other 23 hours tend to just eradicate the jolliness.  So as you may have already guessed, I been trying out new ways to not only get into the holiday spirit, but stay there.

The solution to this worldwide problem won’t be found under any holiday tree.  No, the answer comes from ancient Sanskrit: pranayama.  Pranayama, which literally translates to “extension of the life force,”  is the contemporary word for yoga breathing.  Though these breathing techniques can get pretty advanced and difficult, their basic concept is our breath propels us – it gives us power and vitality. 

Breathing techniques won’t get you into the holiday spirit, but they can quell the stress and anxiety that can rush the spirit away.  Feeling stressed about your finals?  Dreading going home for the holidays?  Anxious about getting your Christmas shopping done last-minute?  Just breathe.  Take a deep inhale that opens up your rib cage.  Fill your body with air, and feel it expand.  Now, exhale fully.  Let all the air out, and feel all your stress release with it.  Pay close attention to how your breath connects with everything your body does.  Breathe slow and feel your heart rate slow, feel your muscles relax, feel that holiday spirit sustain itself.

Don’t be too stressed out and anxious to enjoy this holiday season.  Take the time to get into the spirit, but also make sure that spirit stays with you.  Click here for your two (relaxing) minutes of procrastiantion. 


procrastination, the enemy of fun

This week is the last week of class for CUNY students, and you know what that means – college students across New York City are spending more energy procrastinating that studying.  Whether it is Facebook, Youtube, Tumblr, or just plain old television, time is being reallocated in avoidance of the inevitable.  Cramming becomes a coping strategy.

This time of year always gives me conflicting feelings.  Initially, I feel proud and relaxed, because I have finished my papers and studying early.  As I hear my friends and colleagues talking about their stress, however, I feel badly for them.  I wish they, too, could have free time to take part in the celebration of the end of the semester and the holiday season.

My advice to them and to all of you who are struggling to get your assignments completed is stop procrastinating.  Lock yourself in your room.  Block Facebook.  Turn off your phone.  Spend as much time as your mind can handle tacking all of your papers and finals.  Remember, finishing your school work early means finishing the semester early. 

I understand that focusing seems nearly impossible for some people, as the temptation of procrastination keeps finding a way to creep back into their minds.  If you have this problem, try keep a running list of all the things you’d like to do to procrastinate (maybe: check Facebook, watch a movie, call a friend).  Promise yourself endless time to do everything on that fun list after you finish your school work.  Turn the tables on procrastination and use it as motivation!

I hope you all have a stress-free last week of classes.  Keep in mind that we’ve almost made it through another semester – we just need to finish strong.  Click here for your two minutes of procrastination, but maybe think of saving it for when you are done with your papers and studying 🙂


the not so lazy sunday

Clearly, I consider myself a good schedule.  If I didn’t, I wouldn’t keep this blog.  But even though I pride myself on being a scheduling pro, I too have trouble getting everything that I need to finished.  There just are not enough hours in the day sometimes.  Other times, there’s just not enough caffeine.  Either way, tasks get rolled over from one day to the next, filling up that ever-growing to do list, which during this time of year is long enough already.

The end of the semester is always a busy time of year.  Couple it with the holidays, and busy becomes an understatement.  It seems like everyday tasks get rolled over to the next until the list of unfinished tasks becomes an unmanagable monster list (learn more about those by clicking here)  Because things are predictably hectic during the holiday season, I have devised a way to get around this sort of task buildup.  I call it the “Not So Lazy Sunday” technique.

In a typical week I spend Sunday at the bakery I have worked at since I was sixteen.  I travel about an hour and a half from my apartment in Queens to Staten Island (where I am from), work a ten-hour shift, spend some time with my family (who still live on Staten Island), then commute another hour and a half back to Queens where I am usually met with an hour and a half of laundry and a few hours of school work.  Needless to say, Sundays are long, Sundays are busy, and Sundays are tiring. 

Compared to every other day of the week, however, it is easiest to clear my schedule on Sunday.  I just take off a day at the bakery, tell my folks I’ll see them next week, and attack my laundry pile on Saturday.  Bam – a cleared day!  (In my life, that’s a beautiful and very rare thing, by the way).  And though it is quite tough to manage to get a day off from the bakery, I do this occasionally so that I can catch up.  On my “cleared” Sunday, I attack my ever-growing to do list relentlessly.  I cross off as many items as I can, and really make clearing my schedule for the day count.  My Sunday, in effect, becomes the opposite of a lazy weekend.

When I schedule, I sometimes do so optimistically.  I think, “I might not be able to finish all of these tasks today, but let me try.”  And while sometimes I can power through a busy day, most of the time this mindset leads to a lot of unfinished tasks.  Clearing my schedule for a day is tough, but when my to do list gets to an unmanagable point and I know that things are only going to get more busy (like at the end of the semester and around the holidays), I make sure to schedule in a catch-up-day.

This week think about designating a day at the end of this semester just for catching up on your to do list, whether the items on your list are school, work, or holiday-related.  You should never feel bad about not being able to get everything done in one day.  But remember, letting your list grow exponentially is dangerous!  Click here for your two minutes of procrastination.


overworked = oversleeping

My six days in California were amazing.  Sure, I was working most of it, but I made some time for site-seeing also.  Trying to make the most of my time there, however, meant getting very little down time and sleep.  For seven days (the six days of my trip and one day prior when I was preparing to depart), my schedule was packed, and it was nothing but go go go. 

On Sunday I worked for most of the day, spent the remainder of it packing and hitting all of the cliché San Francisco tourist spots, and then hopped on the red-eye at 10:30 PM.  Needless to say, I passed out immediately, and before I knew it the five and a half hour flight was ending.  I foolishly thought, as we got off the plane, that those five hours would be enough to sustain me for the rest of the day.  I planned on catching up on sleep over the Thanksgiving break, because I did not have time to do so right away with school work, work work, and a tone of laundry to catch up on.  But then, I got back to my apartment and saw my bed.  It looked so inviting and my feet hurt so badly from being on them for seven days straight.  I thought, “Well, I do have forty-five minutes to spare…”  So at 8 AM I crawled into bed without unpacking a single thing and still in my clothes from the night before.  And at 2:45 PM I woke, having slept a whole six hours longer than I intended.  I had slept through two alarms, the time I allotted myself to do laundry, four hours of work I had committed myself to, and about an hour or so of time to catch up on school work.

I have never overslept before.  I make sure to set two alarms just to ensure that I will not.  What I took away from my California trip, however, is that I rush too much.  I often go from one thing to the next without being present and without taking anything in.  I can be too focused on getting things done that I sometimes disregard what’s best for myself and my health.  So while I was disappointed that I didn’t get everything done that I wanted to yesterday, I ultimately shrugged it off, rescheduled my tasks, and thought, “Wow, I really needed that sleep.”

The take away this week is that being busy is okay.  Working hard is okay.  Being dedicated is okay.  But one’s health and well-being should always be a priority.  You cannot do the work you need to do to the best of your ability if you are sleep deprived, worn out, or in the wrong state-of-mind.  This week spend your two minutes of procrastination doing something relaxing, and remember to always put your health before getting things done.


it’s not procrasination if …

Yes, I hate procrastination.  I recognize, however, that sometimes there are just too many things on my to do list.  Sometimes there is just no way to conquer everything that needs to get done in the day.  There ars times when tasks have to be put off to preserve sanity.  And, that’s not procrastination – at least not in my book.  There are times when postponing things for valid inescapable reasons is acceptable, and there should be no guilt in these scenarios.  Being able to tell the difference between postponing and procrastinating is important so that you recognize when its okay to put things off and when you should get to work.  But, how can you know?

  1. Capacity.  When you are considering whether or not to postpone a task, consider your capacity to do that task in the given timeframe.  Could you possibly get the task done?  Do you have enough free time to accomodate this task? Would that result in working into the later hours of the evening? 
  2. Deadlines.  Next, consider by when the task needs to be completed.  Is the deadline fast approaching?  Is the deadline more fluid?  Can you extend the deadline?
  3. Schedule. Lastly, take into consideration the busyness of your schedule in the coming days.  Will your schedule free up later?  Will it only get busier?  When do you have more time?  How long will you have to postpone this task?

Let me just reiterate here, I hate procrastination.  I am in no way supporting it.  It is important to realize, however, that somtimes postponing things is just inescapable.  For example, at one of my jobs I am helping to plan a conference.  While I have various tasks and responsiblities at this job, I have put almost all of those projects on hold so that I have time to plan this conference (which is fast-approaching).  I have been working on only one non-conference-related project, because this project is extremely time sensitive.  In this scenario I recognized that I could not handle all my usual work on top of the conference planning.  I noted the deadlines of each project and figured out which ones could be put off until later.  And, I made sure that I would have time to do these tasks later.

Do not procrastinate this week.  Rather, keep in mind that being stressed will not help your productivity.  When things get busy, reevaluate and postpone the tasks you can.  That’s not procrastiation.  That’s just smart!  Click here for your two minutes of procrastination.



poorly planned

It seems to be a running joke in my circle of friends to point out when someone repeatedly uses a word or phrase.  One such phrase for which we keep an ear out (then ridicule whoever has used it) is, “poorly planned.”  My friend started using the phrase a few years ago in situations when something did not work out correctly.  By now, however, we have come to use the phrase for just about any situation or scenario that goes awry.

When you are plagued with a busy schedule, particularly when you are a student and your attention is constantly consumed with theories and concepts (and deadlines and due dates), it’s easy to forget about miniscule aspects of planning.  A million different things can result in your failure to consider all the logistics of your busy schedule.  And, then you are stuck in a situation that was just really “poorly planned.”  These scenarios are not rare for anyone, but people with busy schedules are particularly susceptible to them.  Not only that, but we are more likely to be set back/have our days thrown really out of whack by them, too. 

When I picked up a third job this semester, I began experiencing this sort of thing of a daily basis, and so I developed a strategy to make sure the logistics of my schedule were worked out in advance.  Every night now I set aside half an hour (I set aside so much time because I have a lot of logistics to consider; others may need only ten minutes or less for this technique), during which I review my planner for the following day.  I pack everything that I will need for each item in my planner.  Then, and this is the innovative part, I think about the transitions between tasks.  Will I be traveling somewhere new?  Will I be out all day (do I need to pack a lunch)?  Will I have a long break during the day (should I pack some schoolwork or reading to do during this time)?  The answers to these questions and others help me to prepare for the next day more fully.  And, going through this exercise ensures that nothing is forgotten or “poorly planned.”

Taking the time out to plan the logistics of your day may seem like a lot of work or time to dedicate to something so trivial.  When you reduce your tendency of forgetting things drastically, however, it all suddenly seems worth it.  Try it out this week.  You’re bound to become a better planner in the process.

Click here for another relaxing two minutes of procrastination.  We survived our midterms, so we deserve it!


riding the waves

Every week is different.  While this statement is probably true any way you slice it, it is particularly true in the realm of scheduling.  It’s just the nature of life that important deadlines and events cluster together.  One week you will be so busy that your work cuts into your sleep time, and other weeks you’ll be so bored you resort to trolling Facebook to fill your free time.  That’s just the way it is.

I blogged last week about how this week was going to be particularly busy for me, and it is.  I have so many deadlines to meet and projects to tackle, my planner cannot accommodate all of them.  I literally had to stick post-its into it to be able to fit all of my tasks (ridiculous, I know).  With all of those deadlines comes stress and sleep-deprivation, as well.  Free time is non-existent and crunch time is an understatement.  But, I am smiling through it.

Yes, I am a believer that thinking positively leads to better outcomes, but that is not why I am smiling.  My optimism comes from the fact that after this week, my schedule is practically empty for nearly a month.  I have only one deadline from next week through December!  I’ll have all the time in the world (okay, maybe not all the time) to study, read (leisurely, that excites me so much!), work on the applications I have been putting off, hang with friends I haven’t seen in months, and sleep.  It’s going to be so wonderful.

Busyness and busy schedules are like body surfing in the ocean.  Sometimes there is a cluster of really rough waves, but they are typically followed by a lull where you can rest.  That lull is a great time to relax and regroup, but you should (and in saying this, I remind myself that I, too, should) use this time to recuperate and prepare for the next rush of waves – I mean deadlines and projects.

This week push through your midterms and mid-semester papers/assignments with optimism, because the busyness will not last forever.  Plan a mental health day for after your busy week, take the time to meditate or reflect, and make yourself a nice to do list so that you can have a productive lull. 

Click here for your two minutes of procrastination.  And, click here for more information on your rights when it comes to the stop and frisk policy.

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