You may not have realized it, but you have awoken to a time-honoured holiday: Pi Day! For you non-Gregorian types, Pi day is the day in which the month and days together form Pi (3.14). Thus, March 14th (third month, 14th day) is Pi Day.
For those curious about how to celebrate Pi day, the short answer is to go out and eat Pie. That is how I will be celebrating Pi day; dividing up the delicious treat with friends at the end of the workweek. When I made plans earlier this week to section off the time to celebrate Pi day with friends, I reflected on how scheduling my life has a lot in common with dividing up a pie.
In previous articles, I discussed the important of setting short-term goals, with an accompanying checklist to get feedback on what you have accomplished. Today, I want to talk about sectioning off time for when you are going to get these goals done. The objective here is to avoid wasted time, which I define as those time where you plan to work, but end up immersing yourself in distractions; everything from mindlessly watching Cat videos on YouTube and skimming Facebook to rewashing the sink for the third time today. The result is that you aren’t doing something that you really enjoy, nor are you getting the work done that you need to…hence wasted time.
A strategy that has worked for me is scheduling time for different tasks, as I don’t handle unstructured time well. If for example, If I plan that at some point in the evening I will write my article, I can guarantee that my evening will be filled with Wikipedia surfing (which always seems to lead to very dark articles/spaces of the human psyche), feeding my roommates rabbit, polishing hardwood, and anything else I can think of other than writing. The moment however, I write down a precise time-frame for my intentions, cutting out a portion of my day to work exclusively on the task, I find it much easier to focus. It is an odd mental quirk, but once you create a schedule for your tasks, even if it’s arbitrary, self-imposed, and in my case written on a napkin, your brain treats it as a firm rule to be followed. I put down on paper that from 7:00 to 8:00 P.M. I am going to write an article for my blog and when 7:00 P.M. hits, all I can think about is writing my blog article because…well its written on the schedule
The scheduling tactic can also be applied to leisurely activities outside of work and allows for greater enjoyment of this time. When I intend to watch a show (in my case documentaries, buts that just me) or play a video game, if I don’t carve out a block of time to do exclusively that, I find myself distracted by thoughts of other tasks I need to complete, detracting from the leisure activity. The moment I section off a specific portion of my day for the activity however, the brain treats the schedule like an irrefutable law of nature and blocks out the nagging mental reminders of other tasks that could be done.
Initially, it can be a bit strange diving up your day like a pie chart, committing your time to specific tasks, but I recommend that anyone who struggles with unstructured time to give it a shot. The result of all this scheduling is that this Friday, I have sectioned off a portion of my evening to celebrate with friends. During this period, my mind will be focused exclusively on enjoying their company; not on the speech competition I have the next morning or my increasingly complex tax return, just enjoying time and pie with friends.