Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Time Management....or lack thereof

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I am good at many things.  Time management is not among them.  In fact, if I had to list one of the greatest faults I have, it would be that I have no ability to stay on task.  Or remember the task.  Or give a shit about the task.  But then later I do and this is where the trouble starts.

Take now for example.  I should be confirming jobs and doing invoicing.  Technically I am.  I have one normal speed laptop (the one I'm writing on now) and the super slow, something is dreadfully wrong with it other laptop, which I'm waiting to boot up.  So I will do that stuff in a few minutes and while waiting for that, I'm writing this.  It's multi-tasking.  That's a good thing, right?

My SO and I have another word for it:  squirrel.  We'll be doing or talking about something and all of a sudden, the topic or activity changes.  SQUIRREL!  It's like when the dog is happily walking and suddenly runs after the squirrel.  Get it?

The other day I was talking to a former boss, someone who remains influential in my life.  She said she read somewhere that women have a lot more time than they think. This is true, at least for me.  If I calculated all the time I wasted playing Words with Friends, I'm sure I'd be horrified.  If I figured out how much time I waste in front of the tv, or even just stressing about things I can't control, it would make me sad.  Probably the worst part of all is how much time I spend in front of my computer.  So now the question is: What to do about it?

I told my girls once I needed a wife.  I needed someone to keep me organized and on task.  M's response?  "You want a wife? Are you gay?"  None of it was understood.  So I remain (straight and) wifeless, circling around about a hundred tasks on any given day and just as overwhelmed as before.  Sigh.....        

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1 comment:

  1. I suspect it's not just women who have more time than they think. I think I'd be horrified by the amount of time I spend goofing off as well. I can't recommend anything that works for sure, but I can offer suggestions, and you can try them out to see if anything works for you.

    A coworker of mine swears by Fly Lady. I don't know what Fly Lady does or suggests, but it might be worth checking out.

    One thing I do is have rituals: you may have noticed that I always make coffee the same way. I also have a particular order in which I log in and out at work, feed the cat, and probably a bajillion others.

    The reason this helps is that I can do these things on autopilot, which means I can do other things with my brain, like read news or think about the conversation we're having. It also helps to make sure that I don't skip any steps: if I'm at the close-the-lid step, that means I've already put in coffee, but not water. So that means I don't spend as much time fixing mistakes. (Not that that doesn't happen: the other day, got distracted and didn't put in coffee, and wound up with a pot of hot water. But that doesn't happen very often.)

    Personally, I find lists and calendars to be very useful. I won't recommend that you use the outline/list/planning tool that I use, for a variety of reasons, but find something that works for you. I suspect you'd want something that runs on your phone. Ideally, I like to break projects all the way down into five-minute tasks, so that I can see what the next thing is, and make a little bit of progress in little increments.

    And don't underestimate the calendar: if something needs to get done, find a blank space on your calendar and have it nag you about it. Yes, real life will often interfere, or it may turn out that the stuff you were supposed to do on Tuesday took longer than expected, so you can't do the stuff you were supposed to do on Wednesday, but that's okay. It's easy to reschedule. It's just that if it's not on my calendar, I've found that it tends to go on the ever-growing to-do list and never be seen again.

    I'd like to find a good way of measuring how much time I spend on various activities (or non-activities), but I haven't found a method for getting honest information that doesn't get in the way when I'm actually being productive.

    You can try to multitask. Like maybe put away dishes while you're fretting or trying to decide what to do next.

    Finally, make sure that what you do works for you. The best system in the world won't help you if you don't use it. So if you've set aside three hours on Thursday to do billing, and then find yourself playing Words With Friends in the middle of that, consider that maybe you bit off more than you can chew; that this wasn't a schedule you can stick to. So break it up: half an hour of billing, followed by one turn of WWF, followed by another half hour of billing, followed by one level of Stupid Zombies, and so on.