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Time keeps on ticking, ticking, ticking… February 8, 2011

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Random musings.
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As Leo Babauta said in Minimalist Time Management: Keep Your Day Open (Freelanceswitch.com): “There are the super-organized among us — those who schedule every minute and stick to the plan to the letter — and then there’s the rest of us. We schedule a lot of plans, but our days don’t usually resemble the plan very much.”

I don’t know about you, but I am usually pretty organized. I keep a calendar updated on Google Calendar that syncs to my HTC G2 phone (which by the way I LOVE!). It helps me keep track of my social activities and appointments, which I can schedule while actually in the dentist’s office or business location. That said, I don’t schedule every minute of every day. I prefer to be a bit more spontaneous. I know what my goals are for that day, usually based on what deadlines I have looming over me.

I just survived a two-week dry spell of work. I had a small job here or there, but nothing really juicy to keep me at the computer. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I couldn’t believe how unmotivated I became. E-mails were postponed, blog posts remained unwritten, housework fell by the wayside. I did a lot of reading and caught up with numerous television shows. And I got the stomach flu just as work started coming back in (figures, right?)…

I eased back into work with a proofreading job and now have a couple translation jobs on my desk. I knew the dry spell wouldn’t last. It never does. I have learned to embrace the slow spells, and I have a financial cushion so I don’t lose sleep wondering how to pay bills with no money coming in.

Coming out of the stomach flu also gave me the energy to clean the apartment and clear my mind. I am not proud of my laziness. I knew it was well-deserved, but I decided to try implementing a time management system. After a brief search I think I might have found what I need.

Mr. Babauta’s rules for Minimalist Time Management are:

1. Don’t schedule appointments

I have realized that an appointment in the middle of the day can really eat up most of the day. My massage at 1 today bled into grocery shopping for an hour (after being sick for the last 4 days my refrigerator was BARE). I got home at 3:30 and hadn’t translated more than a couple hundred words. Luckily I am at my best in the evening…

My father prefers to schedule his appointments in the morning, leaving the rest of the day free. I won’t go so far as stop scheduling appointments, but I will try to be a bit more judicious and not fill up my week with one appointment every day. I will try to schedule most appointments that are near each other for the same day and just take the afternoon or whole day off.

2. Know what you want to accomplish today

Mr. Babauta suggests focusing on three things that you want to accomplish that day. For me that was translate about 2000-2500 words, get a massage and grocery shop. Mission accomplished.

3. Focus on one thing at a time.

Since I am such a multi-tasker this will be a hard one. The multi-tasker in me would have filed this blog post as a draft and gone back to translating, but I know it will be better to just publish it and then go back to focusing on translating the survey. Mr. Babauta claims “… single-tasking is not only more productive, it’s more relaxing as well.” I’ll let you know how that works…

4. Note tasks as they come up, to consider for later.

He suggests noting tasks that come up on a sheet of paper or a small notebook and then get back to the task you were working on. Sounds pretty simple. I will start trying this tomorrow.

Hey, it can’t be worse than what I’ve been doing, right? I have also occasionally adhered to the Flylady system, which can be a pretty good one. She recommends setting a timer for 15-20 minutes at a time as well as cleaning your house through small daily tasks (if any of you are living in chaos you might want to check her out…). If any of you have a time management system you would like to share, please share it in the comments.

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Comments»

1. Joy - February 8, 2011

I just recently started jotting down little to-do tasks on a tiny post-it note and adding it to a line of post-its on my desk, beside my computer but not in the way of my mouse. It means that I can immediately see which to-do items won’t take much time, so I can be productive – but away from my computer – when I’m waiting 5-10 minutes for an email from a client or from my proofreader.

I can reprioritize the list easily by shuffling the notes… and there’s something very therapeutic about physically removing a task from my list, crumpling it up and tossing it in the recycling bin! I’ve automated so many parts of my life that it’s nice to step back from that sometimes.

Jill (@bonnjill) - February 8, 2011

In theory that sounds like a good idea, but with a cat who has eaten all the Post-Its I had on my monitor this unfortunately won’t work for me. Alas…

2. Tammi L Coles - February 8, 2011

I shared this with folks on the LinkedIn list, American English Writers & Speakers in Germany. Of course, I should be turning my attention to other work… 😉


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