Monday, January 23, 2012

Time Management the Luddite Way

I seem to be off to a rocky start with my 2012 goal to write blog posts regularly, so some thoughts on time management seemed appropriate. Even with all the new devices and apps for managing time, we can still feel overwhelmed with the sheer volume of our To-Do’s, relative to the amount of time we have to do them in. Planning is the best way to avoid where-do-I-start paralysis, and keeping it uncomplicated is always better than overthinking. Here's a dirt-simple method that has stood me in good stead for years. In essence it is a semi-fancy list.
At the beginning of every week, I take a piece of paper out of my printer and fold it into thirds and again into half. I then have 6 squares. Five are labeled Monday through Friday with their respective calendar dates, and the sixth is where I put a list of job tasks that have to be worked on that week. I then prioritize those in order of how soon they're due by numbering them. Then I look in my day planner for meetings, deadlines, etc. and write them down with their hour times in the appropriate day box. I include things like when I'm going to go to the Y and anything else that is important (like a doctor’s appointment). I now have the whole week spread out in front of me and I can see at a glance how much work time I have (provided I don't goof off playing Minesweeper and reading blogs). As things come up, I erase and revise. Easy peasy. Takes about five minutes, nothing to install and it never crashes.
Yes, I know it is paper-based and seems dorky, especially when everyone else is tapping away on their devices. But the short act of doing this gives me a sense of order and control that makes it easier to get to work. All I have to do to get going is that one thing at the top of the list - take that, paralysis! The physical act of writing makes it real. I have a simple visual I can carry around in my pocket for fast reference, and it boots up really fast. I find it empowering and calming at the same time. Consider giving it a shot.

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