Great on paper, but when it comes to practice…

From time blocks to timeboxing to Getting Things Done, I had figured it all out. After weeks of research, I put a few of the best tried-and-true time management strategies together in a meaningful way to design my own. I even planned my breaks systematically (see Meditation – is it working?). On paper, I had created the perfect time management plan to take control of my time…

On paper
In theory, it looks good or possible—but it may or may not be that way in reality

And it actually worked! Until…

Work overload happens when job demands exceed an individual’s ability to deal with them; i. e. exceed the time and resources available. Work overload represents the weight of hours, the sacrifice of time, and the sense of frustration with the inability to complete tasks in the time given. Long working hours, particularly at the expense of other parts of workers’ lives, help to create overload. Added to long hours is the sense that there is too much to do in too little time.Encyclopedia of Public Health

It’s all about setting boundaries, right? The problem is that my time blocks did not hold the extra workload that hit them like a tsunami. It’s not that I took on more than I could handle; these assignments imposed themselves on me. The number of tasks I am facing now is so overwhelming that I had no choice but to stop all my other activities, including my meditation breaks. Not to mention everything CogitActive-related, my implementation of the GTD method, and my personal/family time.

Of course, It’s just a busy time. It will get better soon…

I am not a workaholic; still, I have no problem working around the clock. Not only am I no stranger to hard work, but I was actually raised with the value of hard work. My parents taught me to work and, as a matter of fact, to find dignity and happiness in a job well done. They give me the tools and character to win in the future as an adult. Unfortunately, they didn’t clone me nor taught me how to manipulate time!

I learned the value of hard work by working hard.Margaret Mead

So, what’s my problem, then? My problem is threefold. First, such overwork can only be handled at the expense of quality – which is against my principles. Not to mention that I am overworked. Second, as already alluded to, I had to sacrifice my (attempt to) restored work-life balance to manage the deadlines. Let me just underscore one2 immediate aftermath of this involuntary bad decision-making: I could not meditate – not even a single minute – for the past three weeks. And so what, you may wonder?

Some drug trials involve a period during which all participants receive only a placebo before, and sometimes even after, the drug is tested. The initial placebo washout aims at terminating the effects of any drug the subject may have been taking before entering the clinical trial so that the effects of the trial drug, and only the trial drug, may be observed. The same logic holds when this period comes after the trial drug: to terminate the effects of the latter before, for example, testing a second drug. This scenario presents a second advantage; it allows clinicians to see if the (beneficial) effects of the trial drug persist even after being discontinued. In my field, it is not uncommon to see a significant worsening of the symptoms of the patient during this period.


And this is exactly what happen to me; or at least to my sleep after I stop meditating. As explained in Meditation – is it working?, not only did meditation help me solve my tossing and turning issue, but it also improved my sleep dramatically. Do you understand what I’m getting at now? After a week without using the app (see Meditation), my sleep troubles reappeared. Fortunately, a few Yoga Nidra practices (see Meditation – is it working?) and resuming meditation were all it takes to enjoy good sleep again.

Sometimes, hard-working individuals sleep fewer hours per day or choose to avoid breaks in hopes of having extra time to be more productive. Reducing or eliminating time off may feel productive in the short term but it usually makes you less effective due to the lack of rest. Productivity often increases with well-rested energy.Indeed Editorial Team

“You have mentioned three problems, but describe only two. What’s the third?”
“With all this extra work, I don’t have time to implement my perfect time management plan!”

1 It translates to “a job well done makes you happy”. This adage was in my parent’s kitchen and I still have it pictured in my memory. ^
2 There is more than just one. Not being there for my family, not taking the time for healthy habits (exercising, eating properly, etc.), increased stress, and so on… are just a few examples. ^

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