A mundane issue that arises endlessly in my life, but which I haven’t heard that much advice on: what to do when your schedule says you should do one thing, but you have momentum on a different thing? Or more broadly, what to do when scheduling and energy for a task conflict?

People often have schedules (or other intentions around times or orders of activities), and often have momentum or excitement about activities, so I assume these also conflict for others. I include:

  • when a period intended for something ends, and you haven’t finished it
  • when a period for starting something occurs, and you haven’t finished the last thing
  • when a period for something occurs and you really don’t feel like it relative to something else that is perfectly productive, but not the intended activity.

Some examples:

  • If it’s ‘bed time’, but you are making a lot of progress on writing, should you go to bed?
  • If you mean to stop work and go outside at 5pm, and now it is 5pm and you are in the middle of something that will be annoying to get back to, do you stop and go outside?
  • If you meant to set aside 3h on Sunday for working on some self-improvement things, and it is now an hour into that period because you woke up late, and also you haven’t finished figuring out what you need to do today at all, should you move immediately to the planned time block or finish planning your day and getting up?
  • If you meant to write in your planner every morning before work, and it is work time and you haven’t done it, should you start work fifteen minutes late?

Of course the answer is ‘it depends’: there are some circumstances where you should stick with what you are doing or excited about, and others you should stick to the plan. But I wonder how far to lean one way or the other, or what it should depend on.

I think in practice it is a thing I make many judgments about without a lot of thought, and without remembering or learning from the huge number of other such judgments I’ve made. Has anyone else done better?