In recent months I’ve moved away from keeping an electronic task list.
Well, there are several reasons… but the one that’s relevant for this entry is that I recognised that I was developing a habit of pushing tasks as close to their deadline as possible, i.e. ‘just in time’. Sometimes this was consciously planned, but more frequently I simply didn’t complete the task when intended and updated the ‘due date’.
I’ve spotted this tendency in a university student that I know very well. Interestingly, it’s not a practice that I adopted as a student. No last minute cramming for me, and essays were generally ready one week before deadline.
One of the reasons that I’m more inclined towards my ‘student self’ these days is that I’m no longer planning tasks according to their date. Instead I’m assessing their importance, complexity and ‘routine-ness’ before determining when they should be done.
Moving away from a date-driven task list has freed me from the rushed work associated with deadlines (and the associated reminders) and given me a better insight into why I’m doing things. But, most importantly – and this is where my ‘student self’ pays dividends – it allows time for reflecting, editing, amending and re-working things. While my essays were (generally) ready one week before deadline, they weren’t handed in then. Instead I would finish them; give myself a day or two to get them out of my system; then, I would re-read them and adjust them for any new insights or revelations that I had completely missed the point!
As with everything in life, my current approach is still work-in-progress, but it feels more purpose-filled and effective. However, it does rely on good planning techniques – but more of that another day.