So Much to Do. So Little Time.
Posted December 20, 2009on:
*Sorry I’m a day late! Not the most professional of me, huh? Still working on it myself*
This week’s post is on time management. Rephrased, it’s on how you can find a job, get your work done, do some self-improvement projects or hobbies, and still have a social life.
I’m a bit of an expert on this. I have ADHD. When I was younger, I couldn’t keep my mind on anything for an extended period of time. Now that I’m “grown up” I am much better at this, but the habbits I developed to get me through my childhood have stuck.
I keep a dayplanner, lists, and I prioritize like a madwoman. You might have got some of that from my last post Gadgets for the Pros, but now I’ll walk you through the process.
I get a lot of stuff done in a day, as long as I follow these steps. Granted, some days my schedule goes to the birds. I call those “Wasted Days” and love them dearly. Every mind needs some down time. Still, on other days I follow this process and manage to work on my blog, my novel, my personal reading (all three books), job and grad school applications, and some other tasks aside (like cleaning those dishes).
The steps in this process are:
- List out all events in a calendar, like taking an exam. Highlight them or otherwise make them stand out. I advise getting a dayplanner so you’ll have enough room to write all of your daily tasks.
- Go through those events and see which ones you’ll need to prep for, like studying for exams or working on a project before its due at work. Plan out how far in advance you have to start working on those things and what needs to happen each day. In the end, your days in your calendar should look like individual lists with highlighted event items (like actually taking the exam).
- Prioritize the tasks. Be sure to note not only which ones are important but which have to get done that day and which can happen tomorrow. This will let you adapt to things that come up during the day. Like if you have a friend call who is sick and needs a ride to the doctor. Or if your friends call and want to see a movie.
- Look at what you have to do each day. Any meetings? Have to be at a job interview on the other side of town? How about birthday parties? Plan out your day. How much time will you have to work on your to-do list? Figure out when you will be able to do that work.
Something else to note: Be sure that if you’re going to have to be mobile, you bring the tools you need with you. For instance, this week I had a job interview and exam on the other side of town, so I knew I wouldn’t be home between 9 am and 8 pm. I brought everything I could with me, including my current reading projects, so I could go to my favorite cafe and still be productive.
Easy, right? If only. None of this is probably completely new to you. We’ve all heard of dayplanners. My middle school actually gave me one at the beginning of each year, and I know ASU hands them out to Freshmen, at the very least. No, the tough part isn’t getting the tools and memorizing this four step process. The tough part is actually doing it. You have to have discipline. And not just in the doing part, either. The planning part is equally, if not more, important.
Most problems with this process that I’ve seen when coaching my friends, is that the daytimer just isn’t filled out right. The priorities are set, the free time is marked, and the due dates are all noted in red ink and highlighted in annoying yellow. But that doesn’t help you much. You have to plan out what needs to happen each day. Otherwise, you might foreget that essay and have to write the whole thing the day before it’s due, even though you’ve had plenty of time to work on it. I would rather get one paragraph done a day by stretching out my writing time to 6 days on the project than work like a madwoman the day before the paper’s due just because I only noted a due date in my daytimer. A paragraph a day means I’m fresh when I tackle the project (any project) and can even get some free time in to watch Bones (my favorite television show currently running).
Now I’m not tooting my horn for nothing. I’ve got the grades to make me a minor authority on study habits, and they transfer pretty nicely into professional development. Just pretend that instead of just being a hobby all of your personal development projects (like reading that book on hard sales) is for a class and has a due date. Tada.
So, in the end, time management isn’t really that hard. It’s not mystifying, and it certainly isn’t rocket science. It just has two components: Planning and doing. If you have the planning bit down, then it’s just the discipline to do it. And hopefully it all becomes habit, so you’ll not even have to think about it.
Oh, and if you read this, leave a message. I love comments, and yes, I’m begging. I won’t get better if I get no feedback! And if you have a topic you want to hear more about, I’ll be happy to do all the research for you. I take requests.