My To-Not-Do List

First of all, many thanks to all of you who have been praying for me. As I’d predicted, this has been a busy month. School is getting harder and I had a couple of ministry trips, too. Last weekend I was in Gifu city, where I preached on Sunday about the Prodigal Son. It went well, but I’m glad to not have anywhere to rush off to this weekend.

As things get busier with school, though, I’m learning again to become a better time manager. My friend AJ wrote a post on his blog recently about focus that offers some good tips, not the least of which is the idea of a “stop doing” list. We get so focused on organizing and working through our to-do’s sometimes that we miss the fact that there may actually be stuff on the we don’t actually need to do.

For me, right now, learning Japanese has to take top priority. I’ve been having trouble keeping up, and last week one of my teachers sat me down to give me some advice — including the suggestion that should be studying about FIVE HOURS a day! That’s outside of class, meaning about 8 or 9 hours total, in class and out. So, to avoid distractions and stay focused, I’m forced to make my own to-not-do list…

1. I’m going to try not to go online more than once a day. I tried it this week, and did pretty well. If it’s work-related email or research I have to do, that’s one thing, but it’s amazing how we can feel compelled to check email, Facebook, and blogs several times a day. Well, no more, for me anyway. I’ll make an exception for weekends and holidays, but limiting my time online during the week will keep me more focused on more important things.

2. On a related note, I’m limiting my blogging to weekends. You might see stuff show up during the week, but usually it’ll be pre-written on the weekend, unless it’s really pressing (which it never is).

3. I’m going to stop doing the photoblog. For now, at least. I was doing all my pre-loading over there on the weekend, anyway, so it hasn’t been a huge time-sink. But it hasn’t been as fun as I’d hoped and may be a bit redundant, since I can and do post photos here as well. I think the occasional gallery and the weekly photo here is better than the daily photoblog thing, though.

4. I’m going to stop renting movies. I find I have a bad habit of renting something and then never actually getting around to watching it before it’s time to take back anyway. So this’ll save me money too. Plus my computer has run out of region-code switches and has forced my hand; I can watch my Canandian-purchased DVDs but not Japanese ones, without hacking. So my hand is forced.

5. I’m going to stop eating out so much. I tried coming straight home most days this week, instead of eating out and then studying and the coffee shop as I often do, and I had some really productive days. This one hinges on keeping a well-stocked fridge and coffee supply, though.

6. I’m going to not feel obligated to show up at every event. My church has been good about not pressuring me to get overly involved or giving me too responsibility, and letting me focus on my studies. But I’ve stilled tried to be involved and show up as much as I could. As a guy I knew in college once said, though: “Use your skips wisely.” I’m going to that now.

7. The podcast. It’s gotten so little response it’s probably not worth my time. Maybe once in a while, but no promises.

Well, there’s a parade going past the building now, and since it’s Saturday, I think I’ll go out and enjoy it. Have a great weekend, wherever you are.

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