This was going to be a post about Time Management…
So, naturally, it’s the post that’s a day late.
Clearly, I am not a Jedi yet.
But that doesn’t mean I’ve got nothing to say on the topic. I got a heck of a lot of stuff done this past weekend, so I’ve got to be doing something right.
What I am going to do is share what I do and, maybe that’ll help you.
Now, from here, we could go waaay out into the weeds talking about day planners, digital planning tools, which is best for what lifestyle, and all that.
I’m not going to go there.
I could also talk about quadrants, matrices, urgency, and impact until you’re ready to…well…
(How’s this for an urgent impact??)
And I’m not going there either.
What I do want to do is to lay out the big problem:
There are only 24 hours in a day and there’s only one of me.
And there’s a lot of stuff on my plate.
During the work week, from the time I get up, I’m pretty much moving non stop until it’s time to go to bed. And there’s another part of the problem. Regimented does not always equal Organized.
I’ve usually got no plan for when things take longer than they should. That causes what I’m working on to bump into what’s coming next.
Ultimately, what ends up getting stepped on are one of three things:
- Sleep. Not a good thing to play fast and loose with, and you don’t want to be going without it.
- Reading. This gets crunched most often and it’s a problem for me because reading is part of my night-time-getting-ready-for-sleep ritual. This is a signal to my brain that I’m getting ready to “Call it” for the day.
- Writing the next day. I get up at 5:30 each morning to write. And 5:30 is going to come around whether I’ve gotten to bed at the right time or if I’m late. Despite point 1, I will often choose to go with less sleep to get up and write.
So how do I keep track of everything?
I make lists.
I love making lists. I’ll write them out long hand with a really nice pen. I can add stuff to lists all day…
The problem is that you’ve got to actually do stuff that’s on the list.
And, no, you can’t add “Make a list” to your list of stuff to do….why? Um…because you’ll open a hole in reality or something.
Trust me on this, nested lists are not the answer.
How do I organize my lists?
When I’m first creating one, the initial list is a brain dump. I drop things into the list as they come to me. Often, but not always, the stuff that’s the most time sensitive is what’s floating on top of my brain-stew.
But I also know myself (and I think you all know yourselves) well enough to know what needs to be tackled first. Once you knock something off the list, take it off the list. Carve a line through it, drop a big, old, check mark on top of that entry. If you’re into stickers, put a sticker on the completed task. Whatever it is you do to indicate to yourself that, yes, you HAMMERED that thing DOWN!!!
Going back to tasks taking longer than they should (or that you thought they would). I set a pretty sizable task for myself this weekend:
Read your manuscript completely through, making notes on minor revision points and dropping in back story, character background, world building, etc.
I had two days and the house to myself. I could do this.
And I did do it.
Saturday was a little easier than Sunday in that, I wasn’t trying to hold to a specific schedule.
Sunday was a little crunchier. I had multiple things to get done, things I wanted to get done, and I wanted a little down time to recharge.
This is a really important thing to work into your schedule somehow. Time for you to recharge.
You can’t be running around all the time, and that is another thing that I’ve got to work on. I can tell myself that the reading time is recharging time and, on one level, it is, but there are other activities (gaming and television) that fall by the wayside.
So, come Sunday and I’m looking at my goals and my lists and, as the day progresses, I need to make some decisions:
Do I push ahead to get the writing goal done?
I’ve got a blog post to get done. Do I tackle that?
And there are a bunch of other things that I could do. The Dishwasher needed emptying, stuff like that.
I knuckled down and hit my writing goal. That was pretty important. So was dinner, so I tackled that next. It’s 9:45 by the time I get done and my brain is a little on the fried side and I’m wound up pretty tight.
I could have tried to get the blog post up, but it would have been lousy. Nobody wants that. So I decided to push it back a day.
And that’s what I wanted to point out. It wasn’t that the day, somehow, got away from me. I did what I could in the time that I had, prioritizing tasks as I went and seeing them through. Items that I didn’t get to yesterday, will be compared to priority tasks for today and worked in, if there’s a spot.
It requires a constant review of what’s going on, what’s coming up, and how important the tasks are to establish the order that I’m going to do them in.
And getting them done, even if it takes longer than you thought.
That’s why I’m two minutes into my reading time, finishing up this post.
Time: 9:03 Pm-ish