Daily themes: Keeping focus in 2017

Daily themes help me organize my workflow, stay on top of projects, and keep my focus on what needs my attention throughout the day.

Use a calendar to plan daily themes to stay focused.

While I keep my tasks out of my calendar, planning daily themes helps stay focused.

One of my personal effectiveness goals for the year involves achieving greater focus as I work. Distractions kill productivity, not just because they cause us to stop working on what we have at hand, but because we take away time we devoted to a specific task and re-apply it to another task.

To achieve this goal, I apply Mike Vardy’s (the Productivityist) theming system to keep focus each and every day of the week; otherwise, I spend days I should focus on research worrying about preparing lectures and vice versa.

Theming a predetermined schedule

I teach, so my superiors make much of my calendar each semester for me. I luckily have a decent teaching schedule this semester, limited to Mondays, Wednesdays, and Friday mornings. That means I can devote Mondays and Wednesday only to teaching.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are for researching, so as an adjunct instructor, I can apply 30 percent of my weekly work time to research.

Because teaching also fill half of each Friday, I reserve Friday afternoons for my weekly review. I save Saturdays for chores around the house and family time. Sundays I work on any university and departmental service needs and preview my week ahead.

My daily themes for Spring 2017

Day Theme
Monday Teaching
Tuesday Research
Wednesday Teaching
Thursday Research
Friday Review
Saturday House/Family
Sunday Service/Preview

Planning the inevitable

I’m sure I’ll get off track at some point in the semester, although hopefully not too soon. The International Studies Association conference in February will take me off course for a week. I hope rather than fret about losing track, daily themes help me re-establish myself after these stretches and get back on track with more focus than usual.

Jeremy L. Wells

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