Monday, October 03, 2011

Building "Thinking" Into My Schedule

It wasn't until my schedule for this week got so crazy it required an Excel spreadsheet, that I realized something big. This graphic representation screamed at me something bold: I'm always doing, producing, meeting, collaborating, presenting, etc. I'm never simply thinking.  It never crossed my mind that I would ever have to do such a thing as pencil thinking time into my calendar. Have you ever scheduled time for thinking?





I started to really think about it (ironically), and realized that I go through my entire day in a state of somewhat organized mental ADD. My brain jumps here and there, processing all sorts of different stimuli -- professors, phone, email, friends -- simultaneously trying to focus on certain higher-level thinking themes -- bond valuation in finance, a diagram of the human eyeball and vision system in psychology, business model analysis and development in entrepreneurship -- all the while attempting to monitor a gazillion short-term tasks -- the campus parking test I'm supposed to take to get out of a $50 fine for parking in an unmarked spot, the last-minute job interview that just got scheduled for Wednesday, remembering to pay bills....the list goes on. Life happens, and things pop up everywhere, cluttering my day (and yours, I'm sure) with innumerable tasks, each one more urgent than the last.

I take it for granted that amidst all this mental chaos, some assimilation will magically take place in my brain and I'll just keep spitting out good ideas. In reality, this is pure nonsense. So why am I frustrated whenever I sit down to write this business model feasibility plan that's due next week, and realize that, much to my dismay, no brilliant new concepts have materialized in my brain since yesterday, when I opened the document and was disappointed in much the same way. Could it be because I haven't actually, purposefully thought about the project between then and now?  Could it be that I've fallen into a routine of focusing all efforts on my outputs rather than thinking through the many inputs that are currently swirling around in my brain?  I'm going to experiment this week with scheduling some thinking time. I'm curious to see if I'll become more productive, or if at least what I produce is of higher quality.

In other news, here's my fun photo of the week.  I've recently started spending weekends with the Russian-Ukrainian community here in Nashville, and especially with one family in particular, where I fit right in with their other 12 kids. I love being with a big family again! A church service all in Russian helps me maintain my language skills, and I feel right at home in the youth group with all the rest of the these "third culture kids" - youth who've grown up somewhere in between a few different countries and cultures.  The atmosphere is casually bilingual, allowing for an even better means of expressing exactly what you want to say with a particular nuance. Russian is such a rich language; there's really an art to speaking.  It's great for when you want to be a little bit vague, but English definitely prevails when you have something technical to explain.

Oh, and I've also joined the youth choir! Learning the old hymns in Russian is really fun and interesting, and we get to perform in a few weeks at Zhatva, the Russian version of Thanksgiving.

Me, cracking myself up while [attempting] to play the "name game," which includes the opportunity to smack
people with an empty two-liter for any number of reasons. This was my first night with the group, and as the
newcomer, I was constantly shouting out the most popular Russian names I could recall, only to find that there was
no one in the group with those particular names!  No Zhenya, no Sasha, no Seryozha!! 

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