Kids’ advice on to-do lists

In the last day or so, I’ve mentioned to both my kids that I have too many things to do and not enough time to do them in. My daughter’s advice was that I need a schedule. I laughed at this, because it doesn’t solve the underlying problem.

My son told me I need to prioritize and not try to do everything at once. He also suggested a Time-Turner. I told him I’d be fine if, say, I could do a week’s worth of work in a day. (This led to a lovely digression on day lengths on other planets.Pluto’s day length is closest to a week, for those who are wondering.)

What they don’t teach you in school is that prioritize doesn’t just mean decide what order you’re going to do things in; it also means decide what you’re not going to do. Some types of housework are an easy cut, as is clearing off my desk. Another very helpful thing is that at the Nebula Conference this last weekend, some things I thought I would be responsible for were taken off my plate. But my pared-down list is still busy: novella reading I’ve committed to with other writers (they’re reading mine, too), an academic press copyediting deadline, and a novel I’m trying to finish. (This is all on top of family and SFWA stuff.)

So up next (before I go to bed) is roughing out a plan for the next couple of weeks. We’ll see how it goes.

Words today: 325 words

Maybe tomorrow I’ll talk about the other major thing on my mind, the line between vulnerability and helplessness.

Checking and tweaking the system

The problem with deciding on topics two months in advance without actually writing notes is that I forget what I was going to say. I didn’t even note what links I wanted to use for this post, so I’m winging it a bit more than usual. I hope you’ll bear with me.

So I’ve set up a system. It doesn’t have to be perfect — just having a system probably helps me get to more things than if I’m playing catch-as-catch-can. However, it could probably be better. How do I figure out what’s working and what isn’t as good as it could be? Continue reading

Rebuilding when the system breaks

Last week, I put together a system based on blocking off time for specific activities, from when everyone has left the house in the morning up until people arrive home. That’s roughly 7:30 to 5, although my son actually gets home about 3. Then I threw it out the window to devote all of my time to finishing up an overdue project (including time devoted to sleep, as you might have gathered from my post earlier this week). That’s actually pretty easy to deal with — get enough sleep, get up in the morning, and start following the prompts of iCal reminders to tell me what I’m supposed to work on in each time period.

Almost. Continue reading

Using your time series: building a system

In case this hasn’t been made patently clear in earlier posts of this series, I am not an expert on time management. It’s something I’m always investigating and learning about because I’m so abysmally bad at it (as anyone who knows what my latest week has looked like knows). So this series is an attempt to synthesize the latest information and put together a system that will work going forward, and to help others do the same.

One of the things I’ve learned recently is that we are, generally speaking, cognitive misers. We can only pay attention to so much at one time. And when we’re trying to keep track of everything and do everything — pay off debt, lose weight, earn more money, be better parents, read our TBR stacks, engage in our hobbies, follow the news, on and on and on — we keep dropping stuff. This gets back to what I mentioned last week about automating tasks. If we can make some of the things we’re trying to do automatic, it doesn’t matter that we don’t have to think about them. Continue reading

Using your time series: Looking at barriers

I’m semi-amused that this is today’s post. I stayed up too late, then had my sleep interrupted by my daughter. By the time I dragged myself out of bed this morning, I might have gotten five hours of sleep — this, after another short night earlier this week because I stayed up too late watching my husband play Skyrim. Sleep deprivation never used to bother me much, but now even a couple of days of it, and I feel muzzy-headed with a complete lack of focus. This does not translate well to productivity or even using one’s time moderately well. Continue reading

Using your time series: Looking at what and how

What needs to be done? How do you decide?

This devolves to personal choice. Some people like the Covey Planner. Others swear by GTD. Some people like to-do lists; some write everything on their calendar. Some (fortunate few?) delegate it all to personal assistants. Some just trust that if it’s important enough, they’ll remember what all they need to get done. Continue reading

Using your time series: Looking at time

When you try to do something, you may run across people who suggest you do “just a little bit each day.” Flylady is a big proponent of this method, saying “You can do anything for 15 minutes.” On the other end of the spectrum, you have research that talks about the 90-minute rhythm to our lives — in sleep and in work. Notice that what these have in common is that they’re actually shorter than expecting to sit down and write, program, play an instrument, or whatever all day long. They give us time to take breaks and time to shift gears.

Tobias Buckell posted last month about his work habits, which gave me some food for thought, and changed the way I approach my day a bit. I didn’t copy everything he does, but there’s a lot of good advice there. Continue reading

Using your time series: An overview

I poke at time management now and then. Try new systems. Look at sites on-line. Try to increase my productivity. Recently, I’ve realized I’ve gotten lazy — I’m too inclined to sit down and putter instead of looking at what’s on my to-do list and doing it. If realizing that one isn’t being productive were enough to make somebody become productive, it wouldn’t be a multi-million dollar industry. So I’m embarking on the journey again, trying to do more — and this time, I’m blogging about it, with reference to things I’ve read and what I’m planning to try. Feel free to chime in on the comments of these posts with your own ideas and problems! Continue reading