Friday, July 14, 2017

Defeating Time Bandits (A post about Time Management NOT the movie)

If you love 80’s movies, you might love Time Bandits. I sure do. But I don’t love things that steal my time, you know, the crappy bandits of time. Time is the one commodity that once it passes it’s gone. You can melt gold from jewelry, you might get better growth from pastures if you tend to them and care for them, but time? It is fragile as they come… and easily squandered.

So how do you make the best use of time?

Well firstly, I’m not the best person to ask all the time. Sure, I might be productive, I might at times have frightening stamina (which can and DOES run out), I might get a lot done in a little time, but sometimes I misuse time… I squander it. And when I see what I could have done, it doesn’t feel all too stellar.

Although there are many tips I can offer to address this, I shall focus on one for the moment: identify the bandits of time.

What steals your time? What app is fracturing your attention? What game is keeping you from your goals? What adventures in multi-tasking has you progressing in a way but coming up short?

For me, there are a couple of apps plus ALL the things I want to do. The difference between winging it and organizing myself is staggering. Last week, I had several to-dos, but I didn’t dedicate time, my list was more creative than strict, and I was distracted by bodyboarding competitions, apps, life, and tons of things.

This happens and the first thing we need to do is to be OK with it happening from time to time but without losing focus or giving ourselves all the slack in the world. It’s all about balance and time has a way of flying away from us. That’s why today, my list was a definitive list. It had allotted time to it. It had order. It had structure and it looked formal enough to force me to commit to tackling it. 11 items, plus the day job… and I got it all done. Bit by bit. Steady as she goes. Wasn’t a writer sprint. Wasn’t pushing through an avalanche, it was staying steady, keeping the list nearby, making time, and STICKING to that time. I have 10 minutes? That’s it. If I don’t complete, I leave until tomorrow as punishment.

Now here’s an interesting thing to note. This approach doesn’t always work. Think of it like a sprain or a headache. Sometimes an ice pack helps. Sometimes it’s sleep. Sometimes it’s even getting the right tisane or tea for the job. Inspiration, to do lists, and writing is much the same. It’s an ever evolving challenge and you have to constantly find new ways of facing those challenges and going for it. That’s because sometimes you need to freshen things up and try something new. Too often people focus on tried and true methods and they get painted into a corner.

Don’t fall into that trap. Be creative. Be adventurous. See what works for you. Give yourself tough love. Give yourself tough attitudes. Be accountable. Be whatever the day or week needs you to be but always focus on finding ways to keep going forwards.

For me, it’s all about keeping the phone away and focusing on the task at hand. I did what I wanted to do… and that creates momentum. So here’s to tomorrow. To visualizing that list, to seeing those lines come from your pen or keyboard, and for those other lines to go across each one of those items.

Peace, love, and maki rolls.

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