Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Time Management Tuesday: Is Spontaneity The Enemy Of Time Management?

In my very recent experience, yes. Deciding to take part in Reading for Research Month was a spontaneous act. I learned about it on Twitter and jumped at it. It has been very time consuming, and there's no way of predicting whether it will ever lead to any kind of inspiration that will help me professionally. I'm not passing judgement on the quality of the program. I just didn't have time to be doing this now, and ReFoReMo was a creative shiny thing I shouldn't have chased.

First, Some Whining

Hunting up the books on the reading list took up a great deal of time. Yes, I can search the catalogs of 30 libraries in central Connecticut, all at once, and I could have tried borrowing them through Interlibrary Loan and having them delivered to my local library. But our state's financial woes have lead to an unstable ILL system here for a few years. I'll spare you the details, but since maybe 2016 I've been just using the three area libraries I frequent instead of ILL. The reading list search for ReFoReMo has meant a lot of time on the computer, which would have happened even if I'd used ILL, and many trips to libraries. I have one more stop I should make for 5 or 6 books, but it would involve a special trip to another town. I'm throwing in the towel on those. In addition to the book search, we were encouraged to keep a notebook on our reading. I did that on the blog. Which, okay, that was a multiplier, right? One task, blogging, took care of two needs, blog content and the notebook requirement for ReFoReMo. So that was good.

But all the ReFoReMo blogging took away from other blogging. I didn't do a TMT post last week, for instance. I also have skipped some of my Friday done list posts. I never sent out this month's CCLC newsletter. I usually do all those things in the evening, and I was reading for and blogging about ReFoReMo then.

I had formal goals and objectives for this year that this month haven't received the time and energy I'd planned for them, while I was doing the library thing and reading and thinking about picture books. I didn't make much progress on two big writing goals, and the objectives for my submission goal have barely been touched this month. Any research I've done for that has almost been accidental.

Why don't I just spontaneously quit the spontaneous act that's causing me so much trouble? I'm too far in, people! Walking away means wasting all the ReFoReMo work I've already done.

I See You Hindy

I did a little research on spontaneity and time management this week. Which means I Googled it. And, let's face it, I couldn't spend a lot of time on this.

Primarily what I found were sites with material on how to be more spontaneous. Bring more spontaneity to your life. Spontaneity is good. You can imagine how much I wanted to see that.

Then I stumbled upon a terrific personal essay called One Time Management Tip That Will Keep You Calm On Fridays by Hindy Myers at a site called Between Carpools: For The Busy Jewish Woman. Myers comes from a line of creatively spontaneous women. "Bright ideas pop into our head and we follow through." Myers is a teacher who was always coming up with projects for her students, but usually not until she was on her way to work. Prepping for these things often made her late getting classes started. Then there was the issue of her family's Shabbos meal on Friday nights. In the hours leading up to it, she was coming up with more and more things to do.

Myers was the only writer I found this past week who understood what creative spontaneity can do. The dark side of spontaneity. She ended up working with a life coach. (Read her story.) And the two of them came up with a Shabbos Solution that I think can be modified for, heck, maybe everything.

The Shabbos Solution

In a nutshell, Myers doesn't start any new tasks after noon on Fridays. She can finish things, get them wrapped up. But nothing new gets started, which helps keep the hours leading up to dinner clear for getting ready for dinner.

A little bit brilliant. Think how you can modify what she does for your purposes:
  • You have a big project you have to do in a particular week or month, so you make a decision that you won't start anything new for a certain amount of time before hand. You work on your regular tasks, but you don't start any new creative work that will distract you from the big project you've planned.
  • You have a regular work commitment, so you make a decision that you won't start anything new for a certain amount of time before hand.
  • You can do this with personal commitments, holidays, anything. No new creative projects after a certain point.
This is a formalized version of "say no," and you're saying it to yourself. 

I'll definitely be trying it. In the meantime, I'll be continuing with my ReFoReMo posts, and I'll do a wrap up post when I'm finished.

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