Monday, October 10, 2011


dol-drums. n. a state of inactivity or stagnation.

Right now, I am reading The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster which I borrowed from my book club friend Judie. Such a funny book... I can't believe I've never come across it before. Ah, the indignation hehe.

Here's an interesting conversation in it that I want to talk about:

"Well, if you can't laugh or think, what can you do?" asked Milo.
"Anything as long as it's nothing, and everything as long as it isn't anything," explained another [doldrum]. "There's lots to do; we have a very busy schedule--"
"At 8 o'clock we get up and we spend
"From 8 to 9 daydreaming.
"From 9 to 9:30 we take our early midmorning nap.
"From 9:30 to 10:30 we dawdle and delay.
"From 10:30 to 11:30 we take our late early morning nap.
"From 11:30 to 12:00 we bide our time and then eat lunch.
"From 1:00 to 2:00 we linger and loiter.
"From 2:00 to 2:30 we take our early afternoon nap.
"From 2:30 to 3:30 we put off for tomorrow what we could have done today.
"From 3:30 to 4:00 we take our early late afternoon nap.
"From 4:00 to 5:00 we loaf and lounge until dinner.
"From 6:00 to 7:00 we dillydally.
"From 7:00 to 8:00 we take our early evening nap, and then for an hour before we go to bed at 9:00 we waste time.
"As you can see, that leaves almost no time for brooding, lagging, plodding, or procrastinating, and if we stop to think or laugh, we'd never get nothing done."

Those are the Doldrums talking to Milo, the book's protagonist. It got me thinking about how it's so easy to waste time and still think you're so busy. (Of course, the doldrums here really aimed to get nothing done, but that's beside the point.) It happens when a person tries to go about the day without any particular plan in mind; instead of accomplishing things, one ends up with a list of half-done tasks (half-baked ideas?).

Distractions are a fact of life, and in the workplace, you can have more than a fair share. But the trick to accomplishing much is not to get rid of the distractions (because that's impossible), but to learn to prioritize. It's probably common sense, but here it goes: understand first which tasks are urgent, which are important, and which are both, and schedule your day accordingly. Master a good work ethic, and you'll bump into the doldrums less and less--or not at all!

Have a fruitful week, everyone!

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