Friday, May 16, 2008

Time: getting it on my side

Many of you who read here regularly know I am a regular reader of Christine Kane’s blog. This week she posted about “To-Do Lists” and how to recover from them. Her post was really timely because I had just unsubscribed from every productivity blog I had been reading.

Now, why would I do that if I am not as productive as I would like to be? Well there are two reasons: 1) I was spending time reading productivity blogs that I could have spent on one of my priority projects, and 2) most of them majored on how to function on less sleep and function like a machine while we are awake.

Now maybe you have different goals and dreams for your life than me, but I never wanted to be a machine when I grew up, nor do I care to stumble through life like a sleep-deprived zombie. Christine’s point was that the lists take on a life of their own and rob us of the life we want to have. I found the same thing happening with the productivity blogs.

Can people get good suggestions from a productivity “expert?” Yes, they can; but, only after they have done a time-use diary and found a time-use problem they need to solve. The biggest problem I found with turning over my productivity issues to an “expert” is that the primary equation is “time equals money.”

Money is important in our culture because it is the common exchange medium to get the things we can’t produce ourselves. But money can’t be the solo value in my life. When being productive, or focusing on making money, overruns the other values in my life – like sleep, biking, my granddaughter, personal writing – then I have to stop and reassess.

This week I built a little chart in Excel (it can be in Word, or download one, or even just use graph paper and pencil) and have been tracking my time this week. This one is in 30 minute sections some people like 15 minute sections. It really doesn’t matter and don’t let making a chart take over your life either. The point is to see where I spend my time and is it spent on things that are truly valuable to me and what I want my life to be.

time chart

Are you addicted to productivity? Are you accomplishing the things you value? Or, do you have no idea where your day goes? The simplest tool to get a reality check is to keep a time diary and compare the results with you values and ideals. That information is all the motivation you will need to make the changes that will add value and not just more things checked off your list.

Have you done a time-use assessment? What did you learn? Please share in the comments.


dcloud said...

Mr. Productivity I'm not. I've stumbled around like a sleep-deprived zombie quite a bit. I work thirds and I don't always get enough rest. This makes it tough to propel myself into action so I have to mentally light a fire under my rear to get moving. However, once I do get rolling I just keep at it until whatever I'm focused on is accomplished. Then I go back to sleep, lol.

Melissa Donovan said...

I recently unsubscribed to a few productivity blogs too. I mean, after so many posts on productivity, it just becomes sort of redundant. It all boils down to assessing your use of time and then making it more efficient. A lot of the suggestions are simply common sense. What's really needed is motivation ;)

Melissa Donovan at Writing Forward

Irene Grumman said...

During the 1980's, I believed that the Franklin Diary system could help me make the most of my time. I followed it for several years. Finally I realized that too much time was going into the system. At that time I had a lot of hourly appointments and shifts of location within the same day. When I no longer had that job, maximizing my productivity was less necessary. These days I use a thin pocket size monthly calendar and a lot of abbreviations. If I don't complete my top priorities on one day, I'll get them done that week. I also write in post-dates, so I can see what I have accomplished, even if I didn't exactly plan it ahead.