Productivity and Keeping a Daily Planner

So after months of keeping the blog private and sharing with only my close family and friends, I decided last week to let go of my inhibitions and shared it on the Facebooks 🙂 Woohoo! The decision was encouraged by two things. My friends actually seemed to enjoy what I wrote so that boosted my confidence. Also, I was spurred on by my own desire to make posting blogs more regular, and having an actual reader base would make me more disciplined to write. The positive reactions to my fb introductory post were really unexpected and I was pleasantly surprised, maybe even a little overwhelmed. I was also reminded of the power of social media and the internet these days, as the stats on my blog page showed I had hits from all over the world. Thank you very much to all the new readers out there. For easier following, I’ve also set up a facebook page. Anyways, to today’s post!

Last week’s post on the inner work efficiency voice  got me thinking more about productivity in general.  In the competitive environment of science nowadays, productivity is highly desired. Actually, where is productivity not desired? We’re told all the time to set goals and objectives, both long term and short term, and to strive to achieve them. And for scientists, career ‘value’ is measured by the output of time and effort. So it goes without saying that productivity, synonymous with progress and results, is characteristic of a scientist on the right path. Given that scienc-ing ( yes, I’m using it as a verb ) always comes along with deadlines (as do most things) , productivity becomes a pressured necessity and the self-assessment of daily productivity can really impact on mood. For me it does and I know that it’s also true for my peers. There’s a guy in my lab group that sighs heavily when he’s not been productive at the office and when results are not promising, he sighs some more and swears some more.

Back when I was in secondary school and even during my undergraduate degree, I kept a daily journal with all the things I planned to get done hand-written down on a page. I know there are loads of productivity apps (heck, that’s even an official category of apps) out there that help you plan things digitally, but these don’t really work for me. When I started my DPhil, I stuck to just using my computer calendar to list my daily plans. This got me ( and still gets me) to places when I have to be there and reminded me of deadlines, but I always felt a distance separating me from feeling intimate with my productivity. Does that make sense? Then it struck me one day that I hadn’t been planning and recording my daily events in a physical journal. I remembered the satisfaction of flipping through pages, writing to-do lists with my pen in hand, and crossing out things that I had done. Feeling almost nostalgic, I opened up amazon and after looking for a while, finally found a daily planner which I thought cute enough for me to foresee a user-friendly connection and bought it.

Everyday now,  writing in the daily planner makes me feel more in sync with my work. When inked, the plans are somehow more personal than a computer screen list. And in fact, I feel more productive than my pre-planner days.  The fact that I feel more productive makes me feel more in control of my life. So I highly recommend going old-school and setting pen ( or pencil, no discrimination here) to paper. It’s very satisfying, and it’s this self-satisfaction that boosts positive thinking, which in turn facilitates productivity. It’s not just about being more organized, but being happy with your organization method… I ramble.

So even when handwriting things on paper becomes anachronistic in the future, I’d probably still be the dinosaur who doesn’t want to fully let go of writing my plans in my daily planner.

Once again, thank you for reading! 🙂

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