JN98: Time management: The Eagle and the Hummingbird

Dear everyone,

Last week was Jameelah’s birthday. Last year, I got her the Legend of Zelda on the Wii and an engagement. This year we got married, so I figured I was safe on having to give a gift because, come on, how many people can claim to have married me? Only one out of 7 billion people on earth! More people can claim to have been president of the US!

But apparently that was not enough for her. So I spent 8 hours trying to figure out how to make her favorite Vietnamese dish, which is banh beo, tiny steamed little rice cakes topped with peanuts, scallions, and eaten with diluted soy sauce. These are far trickier than anticipated, requiring actual skills, and I ended up wasting a hundred of them before they came out decent. Next year, she’s getting a card and some flowers. I don’t know what can possibly top an engagement, a marriage, and tiny rice cakes.

Time has flown by fast, like a zucchini tossed into a Cusinart. In the past three weeks I have been running around with this budget meeting trying to get a proposal together to get money to help teenagers, been coerced into MCing a fundraiser, organized a two-day staff retreat, and today, made an offer on a condo. Oh, and we’re pregnant. All right, just kidding about the pregnancy. I hope.

Sometimes I am just amazed by some of my friends and how much they get accomplished. Jovial, for example, wakes up early each day to work out, goes to her full-time job, and after work is involved in 12 different organizations throughout the week. I wouldn’t be surprised if she clandestinely fights crime during the weekend. Another friend, Linh, can build an entire Access database or program budget during TV commercials or while doing other things. She can probably do her taxes and read War and Peace during an episode of Jeopardy.

How come some people are so productive? I get so lazy when I get home. Sometimes, after 9 hours at the office, I can’t really quantify what I accomplished. Then I just ooze around the couch like a giant sexy vegan slug. Sure, the last three weeks have been insane, but would a more efficient person have done things faster and with less stress?

I think when it comes to time management, people can be divided into two categories: the Eagle, and the Hummingbird. The Eagle focuses on a fish, swoops down fast and decisively, snatches up one fish, and then goes for another. A Hummingbird, meanwhile, flutters from one flower to another, sucking up a bit of nectar here and there, visiting dozens of flowers each day. The Eagle-type focuses on one task or project and gets it done quickly, then moves to the next. The Hummingbird does a little of this and that simultaneously; sometimes it doesn’t finish everything. To find out what people are, I’ve created a quick quiz. Please take it and let me know your results:

What time do you usually wake up?

  1. 9am, maybe 10. Sometimes 8am, but only if I drank too much water the night before.
  2. 5am. Sometimes I don’t even sleep because I’m fighting crimes.
  3. Noon to 4pm

How many windows are usually open on your computer desktop?

  1. I open up 8, and I switch back and forth randomly. Half of them are Youtube videos.
  2. I open up 5, then finish one at a time until they are all done, then I open another 5 windows
  3. One. World of Warcraft.

When you get home from work, what is the first thing you do?

  1. I turn on the tv, walk to the kitchen, stare at the kitchen trying to do decide what to do, open the fridge, still can’t decide, watch some tv, surf the internet, still can’t figure out what to eat, pace the living room, microwave some pasta
  2. I take a quick shower, clean the place, make dinner, go to three meetings, come back, balance my checkbook, save a baby seal, engage in some yoga, and read for two hours before bed.
  3. Cook some meat, eat it, then play World of Warcraft until bedtime, when I’ll sleep naked and leave the door slightly ajar.

Give yourself 1 point for every 1; 90 points for every 2; and zero points for every 3. If you have 180 or more points, you’re a time management Eagle. If you have 2 to 92 points, you’re a Hummingbird. If you have 1 or 0 points, you’re Wain, our last roommate and reason we moved out.

Let me know what time management animal you are. I know that I am a Hummingbird, which is not always bad. But for the next several months, I will focus on being more Eagle-like. I’ve started practicing my monochord again (it’s a traditional Vietnamese instrument that sounds either soul-movingly haunting, or else like a dying ferret). And I’ll get back into doing push-ups each day. And maybe taking more photos. And showering again. Please send advice.

8 Responses to JN98: Time management: The Eagle and the Hummingbird

  1. Jovial says:

    I don’t wake up early every morning to work out. Just four days a week.

  2. Consuela says:

    I am a woodpecker. I just keep banging my head against the same tree day after day with very little progress. Then when I do finally finish with that tree, I just go to another tree and resume the same behavior. hmmmm…

  3. Gwen Riles says:

    My mom used to categorize people as either a muffin, a bird or a horse. This hummingbird/eagle dichotomy is awfully restrictive!

  4. Paul says:

    I’m too lazy to calculate my score, but I’m definitely a hummingbird. I can’t do anything for more than few minutes and I’m always eating. I think Linh is actually an entire pride of lions (or lionesses) because she can create several Access databases while also doing her taxes and watching Bones.

    P.S. regarding the banh beo: you should have asked Dũng first!

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