Yesterday I got started on explaining my stupid calendar star system, and Imma gonna continue that today.
The key to the whole things revolves around identifying activities that I want to turn into habits or things I want to improve about myself. I've "redesigned" these activities and this system several times, and the first step is always making this list of activities. For example, the current list of "daily" activities looks like this:
-Writing in my journal/Keeping track of my weight/Keeping track of my finances
-Doing one session of moderate exercise
-Korean vocab practice (usually around 100 notecards)
-Korean reading practice (a few pages out of a book or an article)
-Korean writing practice (You see it on this blog.)
-Reading (usually around 50 pages)
-Writing (At least 500 words)
-Grad school reading
-Grad school daily homework
-Grad school essay writing
-MCO or charity work
The "Grad school essay writing" is a good example of how the entire system should work. If I have a paper to write, let's say it's 5 pages, ideally I would write one page a day, instead of all five pages in one day. That's the main idea: Doing a little bit each day so it doesn't get exhausting.
Following the "daily activities", there are also a few things that are impossible to do once a day. For these, I set a goal for the number of times I want to do that activity in a week, and then if I reach the goal, I give myself a star, in lieu of the "Five Day" star. The current list is:
-A more intense exercise session, like weightlifting or hiking for a few hours (3x/week)
-An hour or more with my Korean tutor (2x/week)
-A meeting with my coworkers at MCO (2x/week)
There have been a few changes to the system and the list of activities.
-The "Reading" activity used to be a monthly book quota, but I found this to be too intimidating. My goal was to read 4-6 books a month, but the problem created here was that I was too focused on just finishing books, so I would always choose the shortest ones to read. It also flew in the face of the "habit-forming" idea; It would be much better to spread out 4 books over 24 some-odd days of reading 50 pages.
-That "Journal" category used to be split up into several categories of smaller, easy-to-accomplish activities. (I think "Answer email" used to be one of them, and "Read the news".) The journal activity is good because it's by far the easiest thing on the list. I usually do it as soon as I can in the morning, so it feels like I'm accomplishing something early on. It sorta gets the ball rolling for the day. While this category is useful as being the "easy one", there doesn't need to be four of them. That's why I combined it all into one.
-The "Misc." activity is very important. Once I really got into this system, it really did dictate a lot of my actions throughout the day. It got to the point where I would avoid my friends or chores in my home because it didn't contribute to this system. The result was that I had a disgusting apartment and dirty clothes way too often. Adding this category gave me a chance to see my friends (which is a responsibility we all have) and keep everything clean.
-I used to have two activities for Korean that were "Listening" and "Speaking". The "Listening" was listening to some sort of Korean conversation, either the news or a TV show, and "Speaking" was usually just a conversation with someone. As my Korean progressed, it became harder and harder to quantify the "Speaking" category, as I spent most of my day speaking Korean anyway. "Listening" had the same problem, plus the fact that it's too hard to judge how well one listens to a conversation.