A few weeks ago, I opened up a folder titled “time and task management” in my personal computer, and I was amazed at how many different schedules and routines that I had saved there! Later, I pulled out a hanging file folder labeled “time management,” and was amazed at what I had also collected there. (The picture to the left is a sample so you can see what I’m talking about.)* This is very tangible evidence to me of the efforts I’ve been making (for years!) to become more organized about how I spend my time.
And yet, I’m obviously not where I want to be or “manage my time better” wouldn’t be one of my 2014 goals.
Yesterday I wrote about how I was so discouraged with myself for not doing the “weekly review,” and how I prayed for help with my tendency to not do the things I plan to. When I prayed, the first thing that I noticed was that I began to feel more peaceful in general. Then my mind became a little more clear, and I had two thoughts that were helpful:
#1. Don’t over-organize my day. Keep the systems that are working for me and add new ones very sparingly. The exact thought I had as I prayed was that I need to stop trying to put my life in a box. You see, when organizing a space, most people find it helpful to group similar things together in some sort of container – a box, basket, drawer, etc. Doing this creates order, and speeds up the process of getting things out and putting them away when finished. Schedules, routines, and lists are designed to do the same thing – to group similar tasks together, and create efficiency in accomplishing these tasks.
But with time as well as with space, it is possible to over-organize. When we start to become too exact in our placement of stuff, then the organizational system becomes a hindrance instead of a help. And I think that this is what I’ve been doing. I already have some routine and schedule in my life that helps everything stay orderly and keep moving the way it should. So I guess I keep trying to get the rest of my life orderly with the same method. Only, it starts to feel too restrictive and that is why I don’t want to follow through.
#2. When I’m feeling non-motivated or distracted, work for short periods of time and reward myself with a break. The second thought that I had was that I should set my timer for 30 minutes and get to work on something – anything. It didn’t matter what as long as it was productive. When the timer went off, I could take a break and do something that I wanted to do for a little bit, but then set the timer again for 30 more minutes of productive work.
A lot of time management experts will talk about finishing a job before moving on to the next one. But on this day, I completely ignored that advice. My only goal was to stay productive. I picked a few things off the floor of my girl’s bedroom and put them away; I sorted some laundry; I washed some dishes; I put away some clean clothes; I pulled a few items out of my in-box and wrote down what I needed to about them. I finished nothing 100%, but I stayed productive, and I felt like I had accomplished a lot by the end of the day. (And I really enjoyed my guilt-free breaks too!).
So, that’s pretty much it. But that’s not all that I have to say about this subject. David Allen’s book has some really good information about the negative emotions that I was feeling. I think what he has to say is insightful and relevant, so I will share that in my next post!