Monday, January 3, 2011

Step One - Clean off the Desk

Most of us find our desks under a pile of stuff to do.  My big tool for cleaning my desk off is a simple yellow legal pad, which becomes my "master list."  Just make a pile of everything on the desk and go through it a piece at a time.  Every item on the desk can either be trashed, filed, or needs something done to or with it.  Obviously, the trash stuff gets thrown out.  If something needs to be filed, it goes straight into a file.  If no file exists, I make a new one--just a manila folder, with the title written in ink on the tab. 

That leaves items requiring action.  These get written on the master list.  Once the task is on the list, if there are still materials on the desk required to do the task, those can get their own file folder, or can go into a single "pending" or "unfinished business" folder.  Nowadays, both the list and the folder can have an electronic twin.  But neither my physical nor computer desktop gets strewn with junk anymore.

To be 100% honest, neither my computer, my desk at home, nor my desk at work is completely bare.  I have a couple of key desktop folders on the computer, some cubbyholes built-in on my home desk, and a stacking file tray on the corner of my desk at work.  But all of these just serve to subdivide the "pending" work within easy reach. 

The bigger question comes when I look at the list--what to do with this uncategorized mess?  What do I do first?  What do I do today?  That's tomorrow's blog.

The Plan of Attack

As 2011 gets underway, I am focused on getting all of my ducks properly rowed up.  One of my big areas of interest over the years has been organization and time management.  My plan for the next few blogs is to share a few tools and tactics that have been helpful to me in terms of staying in control.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Wrap-Up and Resolutions

Looking back at 2010, I'm reasonably pleased. A year ago, I had failed to successfully read through the Bible in a year (died a horrible death in the major prophets) and had to squeeze in an extra mile before midnight on New Year's eve to get 460.5 total miles--just barely enough to maintain my 500 mile per year average going back to 1998. I was a little frightened to commit to any "SMART" goals (you know, Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and Timely) because I wasn't sure I'd follow through. But I managed to accomplish both of my big ones--I finished the One Year Bible and ran my 500th mile on December 30th, earning New Year's Eve "off."

On the Bible side, I wish I could say that I read 365 straight days. I didn't; I had to double-up many times (in some cases, up to 4 or 5 days of reading) as momentum waxed and waned. I'm also not exactly sure how many full Bible readings I've done now. I think it's 10, but there are so many "partials" in there (New Testament only, everything but the major prophets, etc.) that I can't be 100% certain. Probably nobody else cares if it's 9 or 10. But my particular form of OCD wants it right. And as a track guy, I hate it when people exaggerate their times or distances. Regardless, that was a success.

On the running front, I'm very pleased. I ran exactly 500 miles in 126 runs. This is the most miles since 2005 (when I did 522) and the most runs since 2004 (when I did 128). I also averaged right at 4 miles per run for the first time since 2005. None of these numbers are any good--they reflect how poorly I ran between 2006 and 2009 more than any excellence this year. But it's a comeback, of a sort. Sadly, the one time I raced this year wasn't very good (40 seconds worse than the previous year's Turkey Day Run). I can blame the weather a bit (it was 20+ degrees warmer), but I really did race poorly. You'd think after 28 years of running, I'd learn how to keep my pace from falling apart. I also came mentally unglued in the last half-mile, a failure of mental toughness that I would find inexcusable in the athletes I coach. I don't mind getting older and slower, but I don't want to get less competitive on the inside.

So that leaves what to do this year. I don't really feel like doing the Old Testament again. Instead, my current plan is to use the Daily Bible, which is arranged chronologically, and to start with the October 18th reading where the New Testament begins. That will take 75 days, after which I'll set a new goal. In theory, I could do the NT four times this year, but more likely I'll pick a more focused study topic in mid-March.

For the running, I'm not sure I want to set a mileage goal (although 500 needs to be the floor for the sake of the average). But I would like to run more consistently. My 126 runs this year included very few from January through April (which, not coincidentally, is the meaty part of track season, when my own workout opportunities suffer). There were also 20 runs of less than three miles (some due to location--like the workout I did on a cruise ship at 11 laps to the mile, others because I simply warmed up with my athletes before coaching their workouts, but also plenty due to being out of shape and lazy). What I'd like to do this year is run at least 10 times every month, even the "bad" ones. I'd also like to have my average run distance come up--not necessarily by going much longer on "normal" runs (I like 4-5 for those, with once a week of 6-10 as a "long run"), but by limiting the number of tiny ones. If I did both of those things, I think I'd see my mileage get to near 600. I also intend to do some upper-body work in my school's outstanding new fitness center (and I've already started, 3 weeks ago).

As far as other resolutions, I want to spend less time online (or at least less time aimlessly online) and do more reading of real books. I also want to be more intentional with my use of my waking hours at home for the rest of the school year (which is related). I also want to encourage the Mrs. in her goals this year.

Finally, I have one big professional goal coming up: this should be the best track team I've coached in almost 10 years. It's hard to set a goal to win a championship, especially in a sport where you can't play defense. Sometimes the other guys are just faster. But I want to be 100% committed to doing what it takes for the next 5 months to put my kids in a position to win.

So... what are YOUR goals?

Fresh Starts

Well, I didn't blog much in 2010. Looking back, I didn't realize the effect that Facebook would have on blogging. Being able to post a short status update and share with hundreds of people (and being able to "argue" online) was a very attractive nuisance. Blogging takes more thought and more work, and reaches a much smaller, and self-selected audience. However, FB has its limitations. I have several FB friends who post political or otherwise controversial links and statuses. Sometimes I engage them (whether in agreement or in friendly jousting). But with 400+ friends of varying backgrounds and beliefs, I have tried (I hope more-or-less successfully) to avoid posting anything that could be taken the wrong way. I feel like a FB post is sorta like hitting "reply all" on an email--do I really want everybody at work to read this?

At least with the blog, I figure if you're here, you came because you really wanted to know what I think about stuff. And anybody who is a real friend knows that I'm a conservative, and a Christian, and a history nerd, a neat freak, etc. So hopefully if you come across anything here that bugs you, well, caveat emptor.

I do love the new year (and the new semester, and the new sports season). Nothing is as encouraging as a fresh, clean calendar page (whether we're talking about a DayTimer, a gradebook, a running log, or even an Outlook page online). Doubtless something will come along to foul it up eventually (so long as there's Gamecock football). But today, hope springs eternal.

So, I'm going to start blogging again. Some personal, some political, some observations on stuff I'm reading--whatever. If you decide to read it (whether you're one of my few surviving "original" blog-readers, or a new one based on my Facebook post), perhaps you can drop me a quick comment and let me know. It'll be a month before sitemeter tells me if I'm just talking to myself.

Happy new year!