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Continuous Improvement, My Abbreviated List

Inspired by a post by Chris Guillebeau.

I recently went through a small rut–I wasn’t as productive as I would have liked. I have been making progress–I’ll give myself that, but I could definitely have achieved more. I must be more focused, but, on the contrary, it’s also necessary for me to maintain perspective on how far I’ve already come rather than focus on how far I’ve yet to go.

Here is a (short and incomplete) list of things I have been working to improve:

1. Organization.
I was extremely organized a few months ago. I used to schedule out my days and create a to-do list at night so that I’d be prepared to take on the next day. I owned each day and made the most use of my time. However, I have been staying up late, sleeping in–still getting work done, but in an unorganized manner with my mind jumping from one project to the next without finishing anything until the night before the respective deadline. Fortunately, I have been able to fix this. I have been scheduling out my days again, gradually waking up earlier, and consistently asking myself “Am I doing what I should be doing right now to improve myself and to lessen my stress?” It has put many activities and tasks into focus. I still need to develop consistency, though.

2. Balance.I have been struggling with balance for awhile now. The struggle reached its peak this fall as I took on a strenuous academic load, a dance project, a position as Vice President, work, research, and an attempt at starting a business while maintaining a relationship among other things.  My lack of organization didn’t help matters out. Although I have become more organized, the struggle is still there.

Despite the struggle, I have re-prioritized and realized that everything I am doing can be distributed into two categories, “things I am currently responsible for” and “things that can wait.” My academics and board position, research and dance are projects I am currently responsible for–for both myself and others. My personal projects, business ideas and career ideas that have nothing to do with my current responsibilities can wait. Putting them off will not hurt me. In fact, putting less time into them now has allowed me more time to think about them and prepare so that, once I graduate, I can jump straight into new projects. The free time has permitted me to put more time into friendships as well.

Balance is always key.

3. Work isn’t everything.
To others, it may seem that I have taken on quite a few things. Maybe I’ve stretched myself thin. Maybe I have. I don’t mind. However, I have to realize that work isn’t everything. I don’t consider most of what I do to be work because I enjoy doing everything I do–however it all still takes a huge toll on my mental and physical health. I need to find time to relax, time to spend time with friends, to take a breather and reflect on my work and progress. I need to take a step back and look backward before I continue to move forward.

4. Personal time.
Work isn’t everything, school isn’t either, my career is not the most important thing in my life and neither are my friends. I am the most important part of my life. I need to find time to myself to read a good book, to write, to reflect. I need to take care of myself in order to be able to take care of others. I need to reach for my own goals so that I can learn how to help others reach theirs. I need to maintain my mental and physical health or else everything I do and have done will be for nothing.

Each of these aspects of improvement tie together. If one thing falls apart, or if I am unable to maintain consistency, the other categories will also suffer.

What are you working on?