Friday, January 08, 2016

Time Management Tools for Creative People

I am a procrastinator. I am a dilly-dallier and I can lose hours a day to Facebook and interesting news articles.

I am trying to be come a good time manager and goal setter this year. Last fall I started a practice that I have impressively continued into 2016 (I start things with good intentions often, soon to abandon them to distraction). It's called Morning Pages. You can read more about it in my previous post on Morning Pages.

Morning Pages: A master tool for getting out of your head and on to paper. More space in brain for thinking & productivity!
Basically you spend time with yourself and a journal in the morning. I use it to write down things I am worried about that are blocking my mind from being productive. For me that is usually paragraph form. Then I write down today's to do list - bullet form (with a line in front so I can go back and put a check mark in it another day, once complete). I also use it for brainstorming ideas, setting goals and this year I am trying to write myself daily affirmations. This feels a bit awkward to me but I am hoping the idea will grow on me. Otherwise I am a big fan of Morning Pages and look forward to writing each morning.

I am also revisiting a time management technique I had read about a few years ago but never implemented, The Pomodoro Technique. You know those vintage kitchen timers that look like tomatoes? Well that is your main tool. (Pomodoro is Italian for tomato). I've been trying this for a week and find I lose significantly less time to Facebook (I call that a good tool already!).

Pomodoro Technique: A master tool for keeping on top of the clock and not losing time to distractions. 
I am only starting to use this technique but can say a week into it I feel more productive and in control of my day. I have not wasted hours on Facebook like I am often prone to do. I am also finding time in the breaks to do other tasks I have been putting off. The basic idea is you set a timer for 25 minutes and then after 25 minutes you take a 5 minute break to do what you want. Then after 4 pomodoros (sessions of 25 minutes) you get a longer break. I have been taking 30 minutes. Each session you complete mark a check mark on some paper so you can keep track of your groups of 4. The more advanced use of this technique involves carefully planning the tasks you need to accomplish in a day in to how many pomodoro sessions it will take you to complete the tasks. I am not that good at estimating time at this point and am happy just using a timer to keep myself on task.

Additionally, though I have yet to decide if I like it or if it is necessary for me; I am trying one of the techniques used in Bullet Journaling called the Daily Tracker. Which I am hoping will help me develop a more managable routine and gain some work/life balance. I have dodged routine for most of my life thinking it boring, but as I am navigating working from home, I am craving it. I learned of this technique from a post by Retta Richie Holbrook, an artist. If you sign up for her mailing list she is giving away a 2016 monthly tracker with her original artwork on each month. I know there is so much more to Bullet Journaling beyond the Daily Tracker technique, which some day I may explore or incorporate into my Morning Pages, but for now I'm dipping my toes in the Daily Tracker to see what I think.

Daily Tracker: A master tool for sticking to routine and completing daily tasks. 
I admit, I can be a bit of a space cadet and not eat until dinner or miss my every other day shower (ew I know). Or good things like drinking daily lemon & turmeric water first thing in the AM, or using my new blue light to combat the chronically grey winter skies here. Basically you have the numbered days of the month at the top of the sheet and blank spaces down the left side to add your routine items you wish to track. Then there is space across the grid to put X marks as you accomplish the tasks you have set for yourself.

Wish me luck on with my time management goals for 2016. I hope they help me make much more YazBerry Jewelry to share with you. Maybe you'll find some of these useful too! Happy New Year!

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