Rest Day – Buffer Day – Focus Day

(2 of 5) California Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris) resting in a colony of a dozen sea otters and wrapped in kelp ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_otter ) at Target Rock near Morro Rock in Morro Bay, CA,02 June 2010.  Photo by "Mike" Michael L. Baird, mike [at} mikebaird d o t com, flickr.bairdphotos.com; Shooting a Canon EOS 1D Mark III 10.1MP Digital SLR Camera, Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS USM Telephoto Zoom Lens with circular polarizer (to great effect), and a Canon EF 1.4X II Extender Telephoto Accessory, handheld, but braced on rocks while positioned at waterÕs edge about 0.5 meter above the water level.  To use this photo, please see the access, attribution, and commenting recommendations at http://www.flickr.com/people/mikebaird/#credit - Please, no invites with images, flashing icons or award/post rules.
Credit: Flickr / Mike Baird
My friend introduced me to this concept recently and I’ve found it really helpful.

Rest days: complete break from work (I call them “no computer” days).

Buffer days: get through the myriad of small things that pile up.

Focus days: move the needle on Big Projects.

Some observations:

Rest days need to happen before they are more a “collapse and don’t get up” day. I have been working on a schedule of 5 days on 1 day off. Until I switched to this I would keep going until I couldn’t, and then would deem that a rest day.

Rest days should include going out into the world. These are the days when I go and see art galleries, or museums etc. Or even just driving to the next town for iced tea. It’s not enough to just not touch the computer. I also need to get away from it.

Buffer days feel unrewarding at the time but make a big difference. Buffer days are what make focus days possible. Before I would feel bad on days when all I did was a bunch of small things, and now I just tell myself “today is a buffer day, getting all this out my head and off my list helps me focus tomorrow”.

Of course not every day should be a buffer day. I try to limit myself to 1 in 5. For reasons I don’t really get, this is often the Monday (regardless of working through the weekend).

This concept forces me to be more organised. E.g. I don’t respond to email every day, but I should on the last day before a rest day.

If I’m not organised enough I’m restricted to mobile and tablet. I see this as a good thing – nothing improves my empathy as a mobile developer than being purely mobile for a period.

I love Momentum (chrome extension) for Focus days especially. I put my “focus” or milestone in the the “what do you want to achieve today” and I’m reminded of it each time I open a new tab. If I have the same thing in there for more than one day, and definitely two, it’s a sign that something is wrong.

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