Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Productivity

If you want something done, give it to the person who's busy. I still remember my high school English teacher saying this to me in my OAC year when I told him I was going to drop his Writer's Craft course.  Or was it when I told him that I didn't think I had time to do any additional extra-curriculars?  I can't distinctly remember now, but it was certainly because he was trying to point out to me that it was foolish of me to free up my schedule in my final term of high school because I wanted to ensure that my grades didn't drop, my Descartes (and all other contest) score(s) would be high, my clarinet playing didn't suffer, and my performance in the high school musical didn't suck.

It admittedly did (and does) get difficult to stay on track when you have too much free time on your hands.  You don't feel more focused.  You feel less so, and it shows in lowered productivity.  In the case of my final term of high school, I was right in reducing my workload the way I did.  What none of my teachers knew was that I had been living over a restaurant that had then-recently turned into a bar that blasted music until 4:00 a.m.  My room was over the speakers.  Even with earplugs I couldn't sleep.  If I didn't find other times to get caught up on my sleep, I'd have been a zombie.  But instead my grades didn't drop, my Descartes score was high, my performance didn't suck, and ... ok well, the clarinet playing suffered just a tad.  And since I was so successful in my supposition that a reduced workload would be worthwhile, for the first in many years, I started to cut out activities from my schedule.

The following Fall, after starting University, I remember not wanting to take on a job so that I could focus on my studies. The following summer, I didn't want to take non-work-related courses so I could excel at my work.   Throughout the entire period, I took singing lessons and tried to meet and sing with other musicians in the city.  This I did occasionally.  The trouble I had with any of these paths (i.e. University, work, singing) was that I didn't know why I was on them.  I felt like I would arbitrarily choose one, try my hardest at it, clear my schedule for it, and then use the experience to decide how I felt about it.  In this way, I unwittingly spent years "searching for myself" - an act that I had scoffed at as a teenager.  In the end, all I learned was that I liked incorporating elements of each into my daily life.  So, that is what I aimed for.  It was this balance that I strove for.  It became the guiding principle on which I based my decisions.

That was years ago.  Now I realize it was just my fear.  I rationalized my decisions because I was afraid to invest time in the things that mattered to me.  I was afraid of failure.  I aimed for the present because I was afraid of being disappointed by the future.  And this is because it is scary to invest time when you don't know the "right" path to take.  It's easier to take a non-committal attitude toward your career than to buckle down and decide This is it!  This is the direction that I'm going to take!  Now, I will aim to get there. It's a lot like love.  What is the "right" path?

Years later, I still make this same mistake.  To work harder at my job or school?  Or to do neither? That is my question.  My fear is always what it has been: that I'll wind up so far down a path that I only discover after it's too late that it's not where I want to be.  And I'm still the same person who invests 110% but is envious of those who succeed and don't.

I'm tired, and I just don't know if all my effort is worth it.
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