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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Stop talking

Some people like to talk a lot about their inspiration, dream and plans: "That movie inspired me to live my life to the fullest" or "I want to become a professor" or "I am going to study so hard for this test."

I'm not saying it is bad to vocalize your thoughts. Saying things out loud can assure and remind you of the current goal and task you should focus on. However, it is very easy to be caught up in the words themselves and not realize that they are merely empty self-satisfaction.

Let's say there is this guy named Bob. He has a test coming up next month. His friends ask him to go to a movie and he responds, "I can't go 'cause I need to study for this exam." He stays home and watches TV. Next week, his parents want him to join them to go grocery shopping and he replies, "I can't go 'cause I need to study for this exam." He remains home and memorize some vocabulary for the day. One day, he wakes up late in the morning. As he feeds his cute pooch, he murmurs, "I'm sorry I can't take you out for a walk. I have the exam coming up." He goes to the kitchen to get the food and start watching TV shows he missed on his computer.

Ok. Now, what do you think about Bob? I mean, he says that he can't do all these because he needs to study. Is he studying hard enough? Well, I don't think I can agree. He is not utilizing the time wisely enough. Even if he went to the park with the dog, he would have enough time to study. It may just be more efficient to take a walk, shower, and start studying with fresh feeling, instead of stuffing down his stomach and giving into food coma.

Well, so, those excuses for not doing something for the exam do not really make sense at all. He stayed home to study but ended up not studying. Why is that?

In my opinion, most people with this problem tend to view the thought of studying, for example, as if it counts for studying hours. Basically they assume that they studied just because they thought about studying. I am not saying that people do it intentionally. Regardless, this type of behavior is unhealthy for the active, happy life.

There may be a way to prevent this. Micro-planning. Before you go to sleep at night, take out your planner and write down what you will be doing for tomorrow in 30 minute increments. You need to make sure to write down everything that will happen tomorrow. However, do not make a plan that is impossible to keep. You need to know your ability and limit. When you wake up in the morning, check the planner. Every half an hour, check the planner for the tasks you should be doing.

Here is an example. Let's say Bob planned to study from 2-6pm tomorrow. He writes down Math for 2-4pm and English for 4-6pm. He opens the Math book he will be studying and decides to finish Chapter 3 tomorrow. He writes, "2-2:30pm Math page 43-50, 2:30-3pm Math page 51-60, 3-4pm Math Chapter test 3 and review." The next day, as he studies Math, he realizes that he is not able to finish the test and review in an hour. He only finishes the test and move onto studying English. After dinner, using the time scheduled as 'free time,' Bob finishes the review promptly and enjoys watching TV peacefully.

Doesn't that sound nice? Watching TV peacefully knowing that you have done every task for the day? Even if Bob had test next month, he is able to use his time wisely and relax fully after his study.

Micro-planning should also be accompanied by Macro-planning. Basically you are picturing the general layout of a month at the beginning of each month. It helps you guide through the month and help you keep focused on what is important and imminent.

For Bob, since the exam is next month, he would write something like, "Study Math everyday except Mondays and Fridays. Study English everyday except Tuesdays and Sundays. Memorize 20 vocabulary everyday. Take Wilson out for a walk every Saturday mornings. No going out with friends except 15th (Susan's Birthday)."

With this, Bob will have some exercise taking the pooch out to the park. He will be able to organize his studying schedule. He will not have to give excuses every time. One task should not be an excuse for not doing another task.

We are given only 24 hours a day. It is up to us to use that time wisely. Some people use 24 hours like 12 hours, and some use 24 hours as if 48 hours had passed. Using the given time efficiently is the most difficult and the most rewarding task of all.

Let's live life to the fullest: stop talking and start doing!

"It is a great piece of skill to know how to guide your luck.
Even while waiting for it."

- inside a fortune cookie -

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