Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Time Management Tuesday: Using Even Shorter Periods Of Time To Deal With Chaos

When we last spoke of time management, I was trying to manage chaos by setting aside the month of October to work on one project. My theory was that a month is a relatively short period of time. "...shorter periods of time are much easier to deal with chaos-wise. We can make a good guess about what's going to happen in the next month and plan for it. We have a good chance of extending our will power that long. Or maybe we can do it for a week? Or a long weekend?"

By the end of this week (and this month that I had set aside for this manuscript), I will have finished one chapter that I'd already started and completed two more. I've also reorganized the first part of the story structurally, including a new first chapter. More importantly, I think, I am into the world of the book again, a world I hadn't entered since, maybe, last spring.

Still Shorter Periods Of Time

In Boundless Creativity: A Spiritual Workbook for Overcoming Self-doubt, Emotional Traps, and Other Creative Blocks by Martha Alderson writes about assigning writing objectives to a time frame. She also suggests actually creating something tangible for each objective that you can manipulate as you work or complete your tasks.  

What you do, she says, is determine how many days you have available to work on a project, then make an objective for each of those days. In her plan, you write these objectives on a note and pin them to a chart on the wall. This month is the second time I've tried this, and I just create a stack of notes for each day. 

What I'm liking about this right now is that if things are going particularly well, I can do the next day or two's objectives and feel that I'm getting ahead.  If I'm not doing particularly well, I can revise the next few days' objectives to give myself more time. Or, perhaps, you could say I'm revising to be more realistic about what I can do.


Being realistic, in my case, means:

  • Not planning an enormous amount of work for each day. That's setting myself up for failure
  • Not planning to work on weekends. I rarely do any real, manuscript type work on weekends, anyway, and by leaving them free, I can have some time to revise these daily objectives, if and when I have to. To be really real, I haven't been able to spend the time I wanted to on weekends formally revising those objectives. I've sort of winged it whenever I could. But I've been okay with that, because, hey, I can live with chaos


Speaking Of Small Amounts Of Work

My May Days group, which organized this October set-aside time, shoots for writing two pages a day. I don't care about that much, so long as I'm working. But I have found this past month that I'll be working and think, Getting to the two page point won't be that much work, Gail. Keep going.

No, two pages isn't very much. But that's my point. Small, realistic objectives can keep you (or, at least, me) working toward a goal. They make chaos manageable for a little while.

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