Saturday, March 20, 2010

My Weekend Alone – Day Two: Setting Aside Time

by Chris McGinty

I don’t seem to have the brand name of my multi-track recorder, nor have I pulled it out to do anything with it. And on an entirely different subject, it’s cold all of a sudden again. Stupid weather.

I’m not wasting my time by any means. I’ve revisited an old concept the last couple of days. It’s a concept I should be revisiting everyday. I think that sometimes I over think what I put on my list of things to do each day. I’m all about spending about eight hours on personal work everyday. This is loosely defined as work. Sometimes it is really just reading books, watching TV shows, or playing video games. The trick is to make the starting and stopping point clear. For instance, Farmville will never go on my official To Do List. I’ll write things down occasionally if I need to remember something, but I feel it is just a time killer. Magic: The Gathering Online will typically not make it on the list either, unless I have a deck idea I’d like to build, or back in the days when they had leagues and I needed to make sure I played all my games.

The point is that half of my list items are automatically writing work of some sort. I feel that I should spend about four of the eight hours on writing of some form or another. Then I have to split the other four hours between other things. If I want to put some fun stuff in there then I think it makes my list better rounded out.

The original concept behind the list was that when I had extra time here or there while I was working 60 to 70 hours a week, I could work on the stuff on my list without tracking my time, and if I completed my list it would be somewhere around eight hours a day. Later, I realized that when I have eight hours available to me each day, like since I quit my job that I’m better suited to pick Time A to Time B, and literally spend eight hours of my day completely focused on one list item or another. This works well for me when I do it. And that’s what I’ve been doing. I worked from 4 pm to midnight yesterday, and started at 12:30 pm today.

So what am I doing? Is it important? Like I said, there are things that will never go on my official list, so that during this eight hours I can’t do anything that isn’t worthy of being on the list. The concept is that it’s sometimes more important to spend the time than it is what you’re specifically doing. I know this contradicts conventional time management theory, but whatever. The truth is that some of us have more trouble with the concept of priority than others. The fact is that I know that I should focus all my energy on finishing my novels until they’re done, but I will never convince myself to sit down for eight hours straight and do nothing but write the novels. It’s better that I just convince myself to use the eight hours to good use.

Since my intent is to clear 16 list items each day, and I’m spending 8 hours of time, I start with a small item that can be done in less than 30 minutes, and then use leftover time to work on bigger items until the big items become small items. Nathan will be happy to know that my small items involve our ten-weeks goal of sorting through three cases of Cyberpunk cards each. And once I was far enough ahead in my time I sat down to start to write. It’s not a perfect system, but one that when I follow daily always shows results. If nothing else my desire not to waste my time alone this weekend has made me realize this. Things may not be going as planned, but they are at least going as they should.

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