Spreading Out Your Vegetables

I have been putting off filling out my report cards. As a teacher, I have to give my students grades every quarter and the first quarter of school ends this Friday. Filling out their report cards is not really difficult, since I know what grade each student is receiving already, it is just a tedious process to actually fill out cards for all 165 students that I teach. I knew I didn’t want to save these for the last minute, so I set aside my whole Saturday afternoon to get them all done. After all, compared to teaching, this is just mindless paperwork, how hard can it be?

Well, I got through about an hour of report cards on Saturday before my eyes started to glaze over at my computer. This was so boring! I could barely concentrate on what I was doing anymore, and I was started to get sleepy at 2pm! I realized it was unrealistic of me to think I’d get these done in one sitting, and that I’d have to spread out the work over the next few days. I put the report cards away, and instead starting working on my reading for next week’s grad school classes.

In The Time Diet, everything you do every day is divided into three basic “food groups.” Your “Meats” are your important and often difficult, thinking-intensive tasks, your “Vegetables” are also important, but usually require far less thinking, and your “Desserts” are your fun things. The key in The Time Diet is choosing tasks from each food group every day so your diet is balanced. It is easy to see why too many days of only Meat tasks and too many days of only Dessert tasks would be undesirable. Meat tasks take a lot of our thinking and can be overwhelming if you try to do nothing but Meats for too long. Dessert tasks are a lot of fun, but if you only do fun things all day long, you’ll never get anything done.

Vegetable tasks need to be treated the same as Meat and Dessert tasks. It may seem like doing nothing but Vegetables all day long is the perfect solution. You’re still being productive, but you’re not overwhelmed with hard work. On the contrary, a day of all Vegetables is worse than a day of all Meats or a day of all Desserts. If you do only Vegetables all day, you’ll quickly feel bored, frustrated, and lose interest in your work completely. Vegetables need to be spread out over time, just like Meats and Desserts. Sure, I could have plowed through all those report cards on Saturday afternoon, but it would have taken more and more energy to focus as time went on and I would have ended up being very frustrated. Your parents were right: you do need to eat your vegetables, you just don’t need to eat them all at once.

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