PG’s Time Management – part I – Recovering

I wasn’t going to start with this post, but today seems a perfect day for it..

I frequently hear from people “I don’t have time to do X Y or Z”. I don’t have time to organize. I’ve already wasted today but I’m going to sit here until I get something done. I don’t have time to do time management. I’ve read Getting Things Done; I’ve done flylady; and I recently read this NY Times article, "Saying Yes to Mess". A good friend, David Seah, has great ideas on how to track time and projects. Lifehacking of various sorts is a big deal these days. (I’m not going to link to the myriad of sites, please just use google). Time Management is a buzz word. GTD is a buzz word. There is no one solution for everyone. Don’t feel bad if you don’t get all of one method. Mix and match. Find what works for you.. and remember, the system you choose might work in one area in your life and not in others.

So what to do when you fall off the band wagon and FEEL like you aren’t getting anything done? The following are some tricks and tips I use. Next week I hope to have a more coherent post and expand upon these and look into how I somewhat survived last semester (at the expense of burning some networking bridges and contacts) and what I hope to change for the spring (with a course schedule that is yucky. T & W… which might very well mean that W gets less attention than T due to all of us working…

  • Don’t beat yourself up. Life moves on. You move on. If you keep thinking about how much you didn’t get done you won’t have any thought cycles for doing things.
  • Get out and take a walk. I think this solves all of life’s problems. Monday I felt horrid. I could barely move. E and I went out to run some errands, while we didn’t walk that much but it was enough to help. Yesterday I pushed myself too much and walked a ton and felt AWESOME. I had grandiose plans for today. This morning I woke up, I did a few of them and then crashed and napped for three hours. I woke up even more groggy and pushed myself to get out the door and walk to the grocery store and back (about 2.5 km, not much but it helped). Yes, I’m lucky in that I work for myself and from home much of the week. When I was at the office 40+ hours a week I would take some time and just go for a walk around the block if I was having a bad day. As long as I told people were I was going and when I expected to be back, as long as it sounded reasonable (they all knew WHY I was doing it) no one really cared. My work environment may have spoiled me.
  • Get out a timer and play a game just doing what needs to be done for X number of minutes. I happen to like 15 minutes. I also use podcasts. I’m listening to a bunch of BBC podcasts right now that are 20 minutes each. I do errand/chore/work for that amount of time and then (if I’m having a bad day) I do something I want to do for the same amount of time. Then I go back and do something else again. If I am in a groove and want to work for a second 20 minute segment, I do. But only if it’s for work-work. If I do a double-work segment I don’t do a double-play segment unless it was a double-work for which I can bill my standard rate.
  • If you are female: pull your hair back into a bun or pony tail (not at the nape of your neck, sorta “up” like a cheer leader). Put on mascara. I can’t fully explain why or how this helps put me in a good mood. I sort of dislike makeup. If you wear a shaitel I really don’t know what to tell you. I end up taking mine off and putting on a tichel if I’m having a really bad day (and when I’m home alone I generally just wear a kippah I crocheted (as E doesn’t wear ’em, he’s a black suede boy). Sorry guys, I don’t know anything equivalent.
  • If my eyes are bothering me there are several solutions I use. I have really dry eyes and should be using this medication my eye doctor prescribed, but I don’t like it and I don’t use it. I’m really bad and my second set of resolutions (my first set were for 5767) for 2007 includes treating my eyes better. Anyway, enough dribble:
    1. use a hot eye compress. I generally just soak a washcloth in the bathroom sink until the water is really hot. Then I put it on my eyes for 5 minutes.
    2. use eye drops, TheraTears were highly suggested to me. The big thing is that they are in the single use containers to help minimize infection.
    3. Take two regular black tea bags, dampen them and put them in the freezer for a while. Take them out and put them on your eyelids. The caffeine works. It’s not a sudden jolt, but definitely makes my eyes happier.

    I learned the first two tricks in high school.

  • Write in your journal for a few minutes. What, you don’t have one? Or you only have the online blog? Get thee to a discount store and pick up a composition book like you used in grade school. Just write about whatever is bothering you or not. Write about anything. Doodle. Take out a coloring book and some crayons and have fun (yes, I have a coloring book which sits near my desk).
  • Write (or rewrite) the things you have to do. I don’t know why but this often makes me relook at them and often apply David Allen’s two minute rule and knock a bunch off my list.
  • If you can, just make the day a pass, and go have fun. Sometimes you just need to recharge (and yes, this also happens more frequently just after vacation!). Or take a nap. There will be another post soon on the wonders of naps and optimal working time.

Ok. That’s my horrendous start (KathyMarie, do you still think I write well?) ;). Between writing this, some knitting, and my walk an hour ago I am slowly waking up and eager to do work. As far as the NYT article and saying yes to my mess… While I agree strongly that houses should look lived in and that clutter is nice, there is a line and I’ve sort of crossed it. Piles work (and look) better when stacked neatly. You can also get more in them then. :) E can’t sleep if the bedroom is really messy. I can’t work if I can’t easily fit myself into my desk (i.e. if there is enough crud under my desk that i’m seated about two feet away or if there is so much clutter i can’t find the keyboard). I’m going to finish the dishes, attack my desk, and jump into some client work.