The Elephant in the Room: Time Management

No, no, really.  I needed a reminder that time management is a thing that adult people do, so I figured I’d just put you on blast while I was at it.  See, last week I had another procedure for a chronic *THING* and the lead-up plus the actual doin’ of the thing has thrown my schedule into chaos.  So, let’s fix this ish, yo.

Living in a massive metro area means that I have even more things to cram into every day because it takes so damn long to get anywhere.  Ugh.  But this isn’t about me and my sloppy habits, it’s about you and your sloth.

You know that’s one of the seven deadly sins, don’t you?

The Domino Effect is a Bitch

It starts so simply.  It’s a nice sunny day or you’re a little over-tired from staying up too late the night before, and you think to yourself, “hey, I can just do this tomorrow, it’ll be fine.”  But some part of you knows better.  You’ve already got a packed tomorrow.  But you put it off anyway because, hey, you’ll do better work tomorrow anyway.

And that’s the moment you’ve just condemned yourself to weekend after weekend of digging out from under your one moment of poor judgement.

In the almost nine years I’ve been running Waterworth Writes, I’ve done this more times than I can possibly count (I was educated in the Missouri Ozarks, though, so…).  One day full of poor judgements leads to a month of working weekends.  One month of working weekends leads to slower and slower writing, more and more working weekends — and eventual collapse.  Because we’re none of us fucking robots.

I know you want to be WordOBot 5000, but you’re not.  If you were, you’d not do dumb things like take off early on a Tuesday because there’s a sale at the market.  You’d be a robot who didn’t need food, but who also knew that you could shopping go after you finished that last stack of blogs.  But mostly, the not eating thing.

Step 1:  Ignore Outside Interference

Dudes, I know.  I do.  I have the worst problem with this, but with a lot of effort, it can be done.

Did you know that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and all those other jerks are actually sites you can close to get some quiet?  Did you realize that everything that happens while they’re shut stays around when you’re not looking so you can check it all at once at a time when you’re not so busy?

I’m not being an asshole.  Not right now, anyway.  These questions very much represented my attitude before I went on a social media diet.  Even though I have a group that I’m officially in charge of, I check in a couple of times a day at best.  Used to be that I was always on, always there, always lurking.  Now I walk away as much as I can.

It’s hard because that’s where my coworkers, contractors and friends (often all the same person) live, so as a compromise, Messenger is open at all times.  That, too, can be ignored until you’re ready for it.  If it’s an emergency, someone will actually telephone or text you.  I swear on my grandmother’s grave.

Other outside interference can be harder to ignore.  For me, this is email.  OMG, EMAIL MAKES ME ITS BITCH EVERY TIME.  I treat these like emergencies.  I shouldn’t.  I should write a thing, then check email and repeat.  That’s a much healthier way to do it.  It also makes you look less desperate, even if you’re extremely desperate.

And, hey, for all the sayers of nay at Windows 10, the email notifications that pop up when one comes in helps me be less anxious when I see that number going up in a background tab.  I can be like, “Oh, look, another wasted email from Amazon.” and go on with the next sentence.  (It’s wasted because I buy basically everything there.  We’re a little bit married.)

Step 2: Set up a Structured Schedule

You’ve turned down the noise, but cramming everything in is still proving difficult.  I have a solution for that, too.

Google Calendar, 10to8 or pretty much any other calendar system is your best friend if you’ll use them.  I use the two mentioned, which is probably no surprise considering the name dropping.  Anyway…

You know it takes you about 75 minutes to write a short blog, three hours to write a really killer homepage for a website.  You need 30 minutes for a professional email, five minutes to hit the bathroom.  You know how you do.

Get in there and start blocking off time.  Do you do most of your writing at night or in the morning?  Even if you’re not dialed down to the minute, you can block off time for writing from, say 11 am to 4 pm.  Block off things you do for yourself first: shower, gym time (this one is so important for us since we sit on our butts all day), lunch, etc.   Then fill in with client calls, consultations and so forth.  Last, but not least, stick in those writing blocks.

It’s kind of the reverse of that modern parable about the sand and the rocks in the jar.

Self-care, client care, the shit that makes actual money.  In that order.  And don’t forget to plug in some time for your bookkeeping and other business garbage.  Cuz you need that, too.

Man, you’re really busy, I should let you get to it….