Monday, March 29, 2010

How on earth does Paper really beat Rock? (Momm)

Today, what's on my mind is Priorities. Yes, I meant to have a capital letter in the middle of the sentence.

To help me demonstrate, let me introduce you to my lovely assistant Janken Pon! You may not know her, but you know her Western daughter, "Rock, Paper, Scissors". In Japan, Janken is like eenie-meenie-minie-moe, it's used to decide everything as a kid. Actually it's even bigger. If there's one piece of cake left at a party, adults might choose to janken for it. One of the most interesting things about janken is that noone here ever contests the results. If two kids were fighting about who should go first in a game and you have them janken, they accept whatever the get.

But what does this have to do with priorities?

In janken, there is a clear hierarchy: Scissors beats Paper, Rock beats Scissors and Paper beats Rock.

That's prioritising in a nutshell: placing things in a hierarchy.

Prioritising is very important to me. The story of my life is that I take on too much, at any given time. Take right now, for example.

I've just been elected to represent the Foreign teachers in my region(4 prefectures),
I'm editing a novel,
I'm critiquing two others,
I'm reading 2 Japanese series,
I'm learning the Jouyou kanji(1945 Chinese characters in regular use in Japan)
I'm watching a movie a week in French,
I'm reading a novel in Spanish,
I'm active in two writer communities,
I've got this blog to update,
I'm considering writing a screenplay next month.

Not to mention the mandatory stuff, like working 8 hours a day, cooking, eating, buying groceries, and, on special occasions, sleep.

To make it a little less overwhelming (because it is- what was I thinking?), I should keep a checklist (which I don't, but don't mind my bad habits :). But what I do do, intentionally or not, is keep a list of priorities.

I have to go to work, if I want to get paid, and have certain luxuries, like the computer and internet which I use for my editing, critiquing, communities, blog, etc. But some priorities aren't that easy to decide. Should I edit my novel or study my kanji? Let's have Janken Pon help us out for a moment. Paper beats Rock.

Paper BEATS Rock.

Really? Why exactly? Paper covers Rock. I don't know that a rock ever jumped off a cliff because a paper covered it. It's obvious how Scissors beats Paper, and how Rock beats Scissors, but the only reason Rock isn't invincible is because someone said so.

It's the same with priorities. Some decisions are obvious. Others you decide according to your personal feelings.

But if I decide that my novel takes priority over kanji, will that still be the case, after I've put in 20 hours on my novel and none on my kanji? If we had this system in place then only the number 1 thing on the priority list would get done. Just because work is important, doesn't mean that I'm going to work every waking hour. I'll set a cap on work and give them 8 hours of my life per day. In the same way, I'll set a cap on other priorities, so that things further down on the list have a chance.

As Janken Pon demonstrates, Rock is pretty mighty, but Rock will not always win. Sometimes Scissors is champion. And sometimes, flimsy little Paper wraps up the bacon and takes it home. The week before a Japanese exam, the Jouyou kanji become more important than my novel.

Don't try to be static. Constantly evaluate your progress, and reevaluate your priorities. And if they need it, change them.

After all, they're not set in Rock.


Christi Goddard said...

Wow. I feel incredibly inferior right now. You're amazing. If I can remember to grab my badge before I head out the door, I'm having a good day.

Marsha Sigman said...

That is some serious craziness! Do you sleep? I thought my schedule was crazy but I must bow my head in defeat.

Thanks for that award yesterday, I am going to post my lies/truth today. What a blast!

Jon Paul said...

Claire--I absolutely love this post because it really captures the "it works now, it might not work later" nature of getting things done.

And I'm with Christi! The list of things you have on your plate is quite impressive--and I thought I was busy. I'll stop complaining now!

Thanks for sharing--and I was checking out one of your earlier posts on onsen. That was a total blast thing to do when I was in Japan, and it brought back some good memories. I could stand to spend a couple hours in a hotsprings right about now!

ElbieNy25 said...

Wow I really needed to read this because I have let my novel consume my life neglecting other (just as important) things in my life.

Maybe I can take some time off to get some more stuff done around the house or play some games on facebook or get out and live instead of writing about living.

Thanks friend