I have a lot of really fun projects on my plate right now (and you’ll learn more about those in the coming weeks!) that I’m working 12-15 hours a day on. I’ve found I’m the most efficient and productive when I work on a different project each day of the week, with a little extra time in the afternoon for wrapping up loose ends from the day before. I’ll typically spend the morning writing, then loop back or start anew in the afternoons, and I tend to do my editing at night.
How do you normally keep track of your responsibilities? These days, most people load their schedules of tasks, appointments and responsibilities into their computer calendar (and up into the “cloud”), referencing their cell phone or computer for guidance on what to accomplish that day. Some people, I used to consider myself among them, still use paper calendars. That part isn’t really the issue, but rather, I think one of the problems with efficiency and organization may go a little deeper than analog vs. digital.
Most of us keep track of our lives and responsibilities based on time; the time we need to accomplish things on our list or the time we reserve for our own personal enjoyment. Calendars lay out time in terms of weeks and days, some go all the way down to the hour and fractions thereof. All displaying usable time and space that you can go ahead and fill in with the important (and equally unimportant) details of your life. Job Interview. Do Laundry. Call Mom. Vacation to the Madonna Inn.
It seems as though we have trained ourselves to view time as a watermark for our lives, and therefore, our projects and accomplishments. “What have you accomplished in the time you’ve spent?” We look for progress points down the line by scheduling tasks tomorrow, next week, and next year, because “time stops for no man.” The relentless push of time inevitably begins causing the fervor for a particular project to dwindle because of “everything else.”
So, in an effort to keep my enthusiasm going, I decided to switch up my organization game. I got rid of my daily planner and the process laying out my schedule in terms of days as a whole. I started scheduling my life and making my plans based on my projects. Instead of looking at my calendar week of July 11-17, 2015 and all the things I have to do each day, I’m looking at my list of Podcast Network responsibilities, and the timeline of the tasks I need to accomplish to keep any given project moving forward.
Now, instead of having my thick calendar (or my Cloud-based schedule), I now carry a tiny stack of six yellow papers. I have a Blog sheet, and a Podcast Network sheet, and an E-book sheet and… a few others I’m not ready to talk about yet. I also have a This Week sheet that contains the mundanities of my life, outside of my projects. On a particular day, I’ll go through each project page and see if there is anything scheduled for that day (typically one project task per day). This draws my focus and attention in on the project, not maneuvering through my list in the back of my head, trying to get to the bottom. My other rule of this new system is: if it doesn’t help accomplish any of these projects, it probably isn’t worth my time.
Here’s a picture of my sheets. There isn’t anything in the picture for size reference, but the width of these sheets are a fraction of an inch wider than the length of my iPhone 5. For each project, I’ve written the date, day of the week, and what project/assignment/task is due that particular day. When I’m finished, I cross it off the list with a red marker. If I didn’t finish it, it remains there, unchecked, for me to look at every time I check the project, rather than disappearing unfinished into the history of “things I forgot to do.” These little pages are a constant reminder of my goals and my accountability.
I can’t say that this is going to be a successful endeavor, but it will give me a different way to approach my course of thinking and ideally, it will boost my productivity and creativity.
Per usual, I’ll keep you posted.