I have utterly appalling time-management skills. I always have — i’m always the dawdler, the daydreamer, the student handing in her assignments chronically late. Perhaps one of the reasons i’m so well suited to working in a newsroom is that having a firm, no-way-out-of-it deadline right in my face is the only way i can get anything done.
The thing is i just like having things done. I don’t like having to stop in the middle of a project. I don’t like having to shift my focus to something new unless i’m stuck and just need a 5 minute mental break. It makes me feel jittery and too-scattered to have several projects going at once — i become really disoriented and confused in situations like that.
Being an adult with about 10 projects going at once, however, is incredibly difficult with work habits like this. I can’t just pencil out an entire evening for sewing, or all of a sunday afternoon for poking around in my garden. The past 3 years — since the moment i finished a 9-month certificate program that had been the one consuming focus of my time for most of a year and whoosh my life came rushing back into fill the void — have been especially difficult as i try to juggle everything i’m interested in.
About a year or so ago i started experimenting with “just see what you can get done in 20 minutes” — an idea adapted from bitesizedcleaning, which in turn adapted it from FlyLady i believe. Sometimes it works for me, sometimes it doesn’t. Trying to do too many 20-minute sessions in an evening can lead to the scattered, disoriented feeling i mentioned. I’m experimenting with various ways of combining 20-minute sessions with long stretches of focusing on 1 project.
The biggest obstacle for me to overcome is my ingrained assumption that i need a solid hour to do something. As a reminder to myself, here are some things easily accomplished in just 20 minutes:
- Re-potting 2 or 3 plants and tidying up the balcony garden.
- Ironing 1 top and 1 skirt that need simple hem fixes, then fixing the skirt (and, with 10 more minutes, fixing the top).
- Tidying the surfaces of both my desk and my worktable.
- Writing 1 simple, <400-words blog post.