Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Time Management Tuesday: The Chaos Theory Of Time Management

I think from now on the bulk of my time management efforts are going to revolve around living with chaos. We are all a moment away from a time-consuming crisis, another illness (our own or someone else's), a breakdown, or storm damage; we are all a moment away from having today, tomorrow, or most of this week--hell, most of next month--totally consumed with something unrelated to what we had planned. 

You can be broken by chaos or you can roll with it. I'm still working on rolling with it.

A Case Study Using Set Aside Time, The Unit System, And Beginning Again

The case study, of course, involves me, as so many of my case studies do. For the past two months, I've been functioning as back up child care during a period involving a change in school schedules as well as one of those family illnesses that circulates around a couple of weeks and takes the regular child care provider out of commission, as well. 

Set-aside Time. My first step in dealing with this was to treat the period while I was going to be doing this particular part-time job as a set-aside time, like the May Days program I do with a Facebook group or National Novel Writing Month, when people set-aside the month of November to try to write the first draft of a book. During the time I was going to be committing a lot of time to family assistance, I would shift how I work. I wouldn't try to complete any particular work task. Instead, I would try to do something every day. 

This period started at the beginning of March, the beginning of a month, and the beginning of a time period is significant. It's easy to feel excited about starting something new then. 

Unit System. The second step in dealing with this situation was to accept that I didn't need huge periods of time in order to do something. I didn't need the whole month, a whole week, a retreat, a weekend, a day. In fact, there's a great deal of evidence that working over long periods of time actually decreases the quality of work. That's the argument for breaking your time into units or segments. 

The point being, having only a short period of time to work most days isn't a reason to give into the what-the-hell effect . Do something. Do anything.

During the month of March, I maintained a folder in my word processing program and every day I had to put something into that I had done. It could be reading a NetGalley ARC, which will become a blog post here. It could be working on one of several humor pieces I have in progress. It could be research. It could be working on a chapter.

Working like that during the month of March I was able to get a chapter started in the never-ending book I'm working on, finish revising a humorous essay into a humor piece, format it, and submit it, revise a story from years back and submit that, and submit a manuscript to an agent. 

It wasn't orderly, but I did something and moved forward. All the submissions have already been rejected, but one was a good rejection. A great rejection with feedback and the offer to look at a revision. This is a very positive outcome, and it came during a period when I wasn't working at my best.

Unfortunately, the end of time periods are just as important as the beginnings. When the end of March came, I couldn't maintain that daily work load, as minor as it was, because my set-aside time was over. Done.

Begin Again. And that is when beginning again comes into play. The end is in sight with the childcare situation. Gail shouldn't be twisting little minds much longer. I have a couple of days this week to get back on my feet and prepare for my more normal schedule next week. And then after that comes this year's May Days Facebook initiative, which I've found helpful for dealing with chaos in the past. What happened in March and most of April is in the past. It's behind me. I am beginning again.

Now, of course, that's only one possible future timeline, because remember my first paragraph--we are one call or text from chaos. But if I don't begin again next week, I'll try to use the May Days program to get back on task with a daily writing chore. That's a plan! 

Either way, I will begin again. 

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