Sunday, February 13, 2011

Where does all my time go?? Mystery solved!

It's been so wonderful to be back in my home with my routine and our cats and the familiar smells of hot water radiator heat in an old house in winter. And my pillow, and a million other things. The night we got back it was -6 degrees here! But weirdly, when I walked to the grocery store, I didn't even feel cold, as though I still contained some warmth from my vacation. And now the temperature in Minnesota is climbing! It might hit 40 today! Yee ha!

This graph illustrates where all my time goes.
But things will be different from now on!
*shakes fist at self*
No more wasting time!!! 
Do you ever get to the end of a day and think, what the hell have I done? Where does my time go? I am not the most organized person. That used to work okay for me, because I would zone out on fiction, then zone out on a work project, and there weren't many other things to think about. But as I've grown older and progressed in my dual careers there are a lot more moving parts to everything, and I can fall into reacting to things instead of managing time. Or sometimes, I look at my list and I freeze up, like a deer in headlights, and I start doing things willy nilly, and randomly and frantically.

So I have been thinking a lot about time management lately. I have this sense I could be doing a lot better. Also, I was just on that vacation and now I'm feeling behind in things.

Isn't this such a fascinating post? What? Totally narcissistic? Anyway, there are a few little systems I used to use, that I dropped one by one, and I'm resolving now to take them up! Yes! Right now!

1. When I go to bed, make a schedule for myself the next day.
2. Pick one or two things beyond writing and work deadlines that I have to get done and really commit to them and schedule them in.
3. Use my egg timer widget to maintain a fiction writing blackout period where I can't check email or twitter or answer the phone, unless the phone call seems important.
4. Social media like twitter has to be a decision, not a default mode. I can't just go on twitter or whatever because I'm between things.
5. Be more organized about flagging things to do and tracking day job hours. Don't expect myself to just remember them.

There! Do you guys have time management tricks that work? Do tell! (Also, OMG! I'm already behind my shiny new schedule! This blog entry is taking 18 minutes over than my scheduled time for it. Oh nooooo!)

The League makes its own damn resolution! 
Have you noticed how awesome the League of Reluctant Adults Blog is lately? We have a new resolution there, too, about posting fun stuff every day. So, check it out!

Image: illustration of wide range of mathematical disciplines Author: Petr Glivický


Chris said...

It's good you can figure that graph out. ;p

Time management? What's that?

KB/KT Grant said...

Blame Twitter for everything. I can't go without a day and not check Twitter.

Nicola O. said...

I do a weekly report for my boss. It kinda sucks to get there and have lameness to write, so that keeps me fairly motivated. I'm a project manager -- so tips are: break down big tasks, assign reasonable dates to milestones, and then bust ass to meet them.

Also, can you talk the league into getting rid of that scrolly thing in the left sidebar? I really hate that thing.

Carolyn Crane said...

Chris: you know what it is!!! LOL

KB: Oh, just without checking? that;s all?????

Nicola: THose are really good tips, miss. On LRA, do you mean that bouncing sidebar thing? Hmm!

Melissa (My words and pages) said...

Glad you're home and safe. :) It seemed as you had a wonderful trip. One great vaca for a great person. :)

Well, I think I need to take tips from you on time management. I always get lost and hours slip away before I know it. It's crazy! I don't know what to do.

orannia said...

Pick one or two things beyond writing and work deadlines that I have to get done and really commit to them and schedule them in.

I need to do that :) I try to do everything and end up feeling exhausted.

Victoria Janssen said...

So far as writing goes, I do something similar to your "make a schedule for myself the next day." I don't make a full schedule, but I decide what I'm going to work on, and what I'll work on if I finish the first task.

Mandi said...

My biggest time management problem is what we call - the internet.

If I turn off my computer AND iPhone - I actually get things done. But it hurts ;)

Julie said...

I love systems...and your 5 are awesome. I'm tingling while reading them. I love my lists and my other lists and my notepads and my colored pens. They are excite me. Maybe adding a colored pen will help you. Tasks go in different colors...and it's fun. It makes you want to write lists and even stick with them because once you finish something, you can use your fancy colored pen to cross that thing off! Best feeling in the world crossing something off your list with your colored pen. I have 4 colors. :)

Carolyn Crane said...

Melissa: thanks! It's great to be home, and you sound as time management challenged as me!

Orannia: Oh, the dream of getting it all done...

Victoria: That's smart. It cuts the "what next" time wasting zone!

Mandi: LOL. The pain!!

Julie: You are hilarious! You LOVE colored pens! I need to take a page from your playbook.

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

I may tweet on occasion, but I never check my twitter account. I think I tweeted something random today for the first time - just because it had to do with my puppy.

I'm extremely organized/disorganized, but I do make a rudimentary schedule, otherwise things that must be done slip through the cracks - sometimes the brain is on overload so I will, on occasion, make a to do list. If I don't, I find that I spend a lot of time playing catch-up.
I'd rather not be - the faster I go the behinder I get!

Christine said...

I LOVE lists!

I used to make them on random pieces of paper, but I'd lose them, start over, find the ones I lost and then just stick them together. Not very organized. I finally got into the habit of keeping and maintaing lists on my laptop (where I spend too much time each day, I'm sure) and on my iPhone (which is nearly always within reach if not in my pocket) and they are synced. I get such a thrill from deleting things from my lists and consequently adding new things to my lists that I actually get stuff done JUST so I can poke around on my lists every day. ^_^

I just need to work on prioritizing those items on the lists... fun stuff tends to prioritize over icky stuff. Not always the best order of business. LOL!

Good luck! :)

Pamela {Spaz} said...

Welcome back!! Good luck with all that time management stuff :P

Tumperkin said...

I'm good at this at paid-work - not so much in non-paid work. But my basic approach is this:

Step 1: divide everything into 4 piles

1 - urgent and important
2 - urgent and not important
3 - non urgent and important
4 - non urgent and non importnat

The temptation once you've done this is to concentrate on categories 1 and 3 - DO NOT do this.

Step 2: assign time to each of the 4 categories.

Oh, and never divide your time up into too many segments - you are very limited as to what you can do in in say, 30-60 mins. If it's easier, schedule for 3 days rather than 1 day, allowing an appropriate amount of time for what you need to do.