Saturday, 16 February 2019

How to make to-do lists pleasurable

How easy is it for you to include pleasurable activities in your day? I’ve noticed I tend to deprive myself of pleasurable activities as work and similar commitments typically fill every waking hour. There is generally not enough time in the day!

And I’ve heard others around me complain about how they, too, rarely get round to recreational or fun activities, which deep down they crave. What about activities that are, by definition, pleasurable? What about socialising or outdoor pursuits? What is a good use of time?

Tweak your to-do list a little, and you'll reap amazing benefits!

If you follow this blog, you’ll perhaps remember my article about the minimal to-do list. It involves setting 3 main tasks per day, which are important, easy to remember, and above all achievable.

I love my minimal to-do list; however, I’ve noticed my 3 daily tasks usually are tedious, difficult or downright tiring. Don’t get me wrong: the purpose of a to-do list obviously is to get tedious tasks done. And work can be pleasurable, too. But at the end of the day, it still is what it is: work.

All work and no play, after all, is not good for us, so I’ve started tweaking my minimal to-do list a little:
I occasionally include a pleasurable activity in my to-do list. It’s a time management approach designed to bring about greater purpose. It works for me, so it might work for you, too.

This is less ridiculous than it initially sounds: on some days I explicitly include a pleasurable activity in my to-do list, such as meeting up with a friend at the café; going out on a nice, long run; or treating myself to a full-body massage.

While I would have done these things in the past, I now savour and appreciate such activities even more. It is, frankly, the best way to get my priorities right. By adapting your to-do list a little, you can reap amazing benefits!

Tweaking my minimal to-do list in this unusual way has made it easy for me to find the balance between the mountain of work commitments, the engagement in relationships, and the pursuit of pleasure. All three should have a role to play in our lives.

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Avoiding writing mistakes by concentration span management

As I was rereading an email which I’d sent to a friend in Germany on her birthday recently, I noticed a stupid comma mistake in my writing. As a translator I’m extremely sensitive to even the smallest of writing errors, but in this situation I didn’t mind. But why?

If this had happened to me in my translation work, it would have caused a lot of distress. If I had delivered a translation to a client with a stupid mistake in it, it would have been upsetting – both for the client and for myself. Blunders can easily turn a translation into substandard work.

The mental resources available to us in a day are finite, so we should use them wisely.

Mistakes in professional translations and professional writing can and do happen, which is why good translators put bespoke quality assurance measures in place to prevent them. Since the mental resources that are available to us in a day are finite, it makes sense to use them wisely and effectively, i.e. to “manage” them. This often means: first things first!

I could, of course, have written to my friend first thing in the morning, straight after the notification on my phone had popped up reminding me of her birthday. But I’d deliberately put it off till late in the afternoon, although I’d been well aware that my mental resources, after a day’s translation work, would be almost depleted by then.

Writing to my friend first thing would already have taken a chunk out of the mental resources so badly needed for the day‘s translation assignments. I knew that it wouldn’t really matter (much) to her that my writing was most likely going to be suboptimal. That she wouldn’t mind the odd punctuation mistake or typo. That my email would perhaps even be a bit incoherent. Writing to her on her birthday mattered more than the writing itself.

First things first! Since our concentration span in a day is limited, it makes sense to implement measures to plan our days ahead in a way to prevent careless writing mistakes.