Back to School?

by Mark Forster

This chapter is a free excerpt from The Pathway to Awesomeness.

September 16, 2006

Do you remember how long a school day was? How it never seemed to end?

Do your days seem much shorter now that you are an adult? Do you ever find yourself saying, “It’s four o’clock already, and I haven’t done a thing?” Do your days seem to be over in a flash?


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September 16, 2006

Do you remember how long a school day was? How it never seemed to end?

Do your days seem much shorter now that you are an adult? Do you ever find yourself saying, “It’s four o’clock already, and I haven’t done a thing?” Do your days seem to be over in a flash?

Perhaps you find your days seem to get long again when you go on a seminar or a conference. Why is it that days at school, on a seminar, or on a conference seem so much longer than the days we have in the office? What makes the difference?

The answer is that your days in the office may lack structure while the others are highly structured. Let’s look at the two different structures.

You probably do have a definite start time for your work, but many people don’t have a definite finish time. They just work on until they feel they can’t go on any longer. They tend to work through lunch too. If they do take any breaks during the course of the day they are taken on the spur of the moment. It’s very difficult to predict what you will be working on at any given time of day—it could be almost anything.

By contrast, the typical school, conference, or seminar day is highly structured. It is divided up into sessions which have definite start and finish times. In between the sessions there are breaks and these also have definite start and finish times. There will be definite mealtimes which just about everyone will attend. Finally, the day will have a definite finish time. At any given time of day you only have to look at the timetable to know where you will be and what subject you will be working on.

You can learn from this and give yourself a longer, more focused, and more productive day by introducing a bit more structure into your work day. You can start off by introducing a definite finish time when you will stop work and go home. When you have got the finish time established, then introduce a lunch break with a definite start and stop time.

You can also introduce a mid-morning break of 20-30 minutes and another one mid-afternoon. Make sure you start and finish these at a definite time. Giving yourself a structure of concentrated work sessions followed by time to relax makes the day as a whole much more manageable and focused. You should also feel less tired at the end of the day.

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