Getting work done

It is not enough to be industrious; so are the ants. What are you industrious about? – Henry David Thoreau

My new scorecard

I crawled out of bed on a warm, brisk Monday morning, waiting for my energy to kick in and let me go out for a run before work today. Waking up at my normal time on Monday mornings after staying up late on the weekends always felt like coming home jet lagged from a trip to India. “I just need to drink some water…my room is 200 degrees and counting,” I thought to myself. With the fan on the highest setting, my room still felt like a sauna that just lulled you to sleep before you could even try to get up again. I’d consider leaving the window open all the time, but that would leave my room to damage from rain if it would occur during the night.

I usually go running around 6 am. That leaves me enough time to have a quick breakfast and be at work by 8. But I was just too late to make it to this one today.

“It’s already 6:30…if I go running now, I’ll miss valuable time for me to be productive at work by 8:00 am.” This is the guilt that drives me insane. Being a bioinformaticist computational biologist person who uses the computer, every minute wasted is a minute I could spend working, which means a minute I could spend coming closer to realizing my true potential. This isn’t just trying hard at work, but optimizing the rest of my routine so that I could produce the best results at work.

I just lay there on the floor in my room. I had to remind myself of how much work had to be done.

Lately I’ve been obsessed with productivity. For the past year, I’ve been conscious about how distracted I can become, and, ultimately, it ends up with a constant cycle between spending hours on Reddit/Youtube/whatever and my TextWrangler/Terminal/Xcode windows. As hard as I try to read all these Xcode scripts in Perl and Python with the slightest hope of understanding what my mentor has typed for me, my mind ultimately wanders into the curious and endless depths of the internet’s knowledge to find something interesting to read. I’ve been keeping a notebook in a word document in which I write down the time and activities I do every day while I’m at work. I’ve also downloaded RescueTime, an app that lets you see for yourself how productive you truly are. For the past year, I’ve been following blog after blog and reading book after book about the secret to getting work done or becoming a more productive person overall. Throughout this past summer alone, I’ve taken up project after project from working on proposals for organizations at my university, practicing mnemonic techniques, trying my hand at Coursera’s offerings, and trying to find time to level-up my mathematics skills and computational physics skills in-between. (This isn’t even the work that I do for my actual internship.)

As I sat on my dorm room floor, I decided to do some stretching and breathing. I was so busy that I had to spend extra time. There was always something beautiful about waking up early. I used to think that it was beautiful because you could go running and prepare for the day with great efficiency. Or that it was being able to get your morning prayers in with relative ease. Or that it was getting to work an hour earlier so you could get more work done and become closer to your goals. But none of those things are the actual reason the morning is beautiful.

The morning gives you time to refocus yourself so you can remember what’s most important. Not trying to stay occupied 24/7.

Tomorrow will be a brighter day.

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