When I was still working, I drafted a loooooong to-do list in my head for my sabbatical from work. But over the first few days, I could not bring myself to start on the list.
I think it's because I've been programmed to work according to a strict deadline (read: I'm a crammer). So without any deadlines, all I had to show for for the first week was driving the kids to and from school & after-school activities. Coz those had a deadline. They needed to be picked up at this time and brought there by that time. Of course, watch TV & dvds, facebook, blog and take a nap were things that weren't on the list that I got to do a lot.
Aside from the absence of a deadline, I think I was also crippled by the seemingly endless list of tasks. There were just too many, I didn't know which to prioritize.
Being very results-driven, I had a nagging feeling of frustration at the end of my first week. So I decided to cut up my to-do list into categories: Urgent (mostly stuff the kids need for school/after-school), Home (with sub-categories of To-Fix, To-Buy, To-Organize) and Project (special "me" projects like 'enroll in a class', 'travel' and 'get on the treadmill'). This turned my impossible, long to-do list into doable, bite-size lists.
Then I decided I would work on 1 Home or 1 Project task every day (of course, the tasks on Urgent list also need to get done ASAP). The required task per day gave the crammer in me a deadline and the doable one-a-day target made it less daunting. Plus, it gave me a daily sense of accomplishment.
A couple of days of this new system has led to a number of to-do-list items crossed off. I am able to enjoy my sabbatical without the first week's nagging frustration of having nothing to show for my week. When I was working, getting things done was so intuitive, I no longer even needed an actual list. The tasks were all in my head and I was naturally programmed to prioritize and deliver them on time. Now that I am on sabbatical, getting things done needed a whole new system. And because the new system assures the outcome I've been wired all these years to deliver, I am able to fully enjoy this sabbatical journey of mine.
This is my new normal.
This is my new normal.