As you can see, I’m super into reading stuff about time-management. But when I read the article The 1 time management trick that actually works by Geoffrey James of Inc.com, I realized that there’s another way to look at the situation, and that is to not manage my time. What? Ok let me quote Mr. James so that you can understand his point.
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Gred Mckeown is not such a well-written book compared to the others on this list. However, this is the book that introduced me to the idea that “the undisciplined pursuit of more is a key reason for failure”, thus it is important to “distinguish the trivial many from the vital few”. I know, I know, I am sometimes proud of being a Renaissance woman, but after I read this book, I was able to free myself from a lot of unnecessary things that were bogging me down.
Several books have changed the way I think and live. This is a first of a series of posts where I will talk about these books and what I have learned from them.
Time management trick: what’s urgent vs. what’s important
As I discussed in The Time Management Matrix that Saved Me from 16-Hour Work Days, I was unnecessarily overworking before I read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. The pile of work even prevented me from reading books, a really important activity for a writer, and ironically, it prevented me from devoting time to writing itself. As Stephen King said, one time he realized that he was becoming a professional e-mailer than a writer. Such is life when you get sucked up into busyness. So what was keeping me busy? I was caught up things like answering e-mail, transferring press kit cd contents to my computer, filing away the press kit papers, etc., which I all felt were “urgent” things.
When I began working as an art reporter three years ago, the office gave me a flexible schedule. This meant that I was free to plan my days, but if I did overtime on weekdays and Sundays, I wasn’t compensated for it. As I said in The Time Management Matrix that Saved Me from 16-Hour Work Days, I was working 16-hours or more a day because I didn’t know how to manage my time. Aside from the tips in that post, what helped me was to make a weekly schedule with one-letter codes.
Planning the entire week helps me divide the amount of work that I need to do over the course of several days as opposed to cramming it all in one day. To save even more time, I decided that for certain recurring activities, I will not type up the whole word for it (ex: travel) and instead use a code (T). This is helpful as I don’t have to spend time spelling out the whole word again and again, and when I erase the entries for the next week, I only need to erase one letter instead of several.
So in my phone, I have a note for my schedule for the entire week ahead. The schedule is divided into days and each day is divided hours. If an activity only lasts for 30 minutes instead of an hour, I place two activities during the one hour period and separate them with a comma. You can see that in the 2-3 time period in the sample schedule below.
Mon Feb 1
3-4-[describe event that I’ll go to and venue where event will take place]
So what do those letters mean?
I just read The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss. Here are the things I learned from the book:
- “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”–Mark Twain
- “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”–Albert Einstein
- “Many a false step was made by standing still.”–fortune cookie
- “Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.”–Benjamin Disraeli
- “Set aside a certain number of days, during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare, with course and rough dress, saying to yourself the while: ‘Is this the condition that I feared?'”–Seneca
- “You have comfort. You don’t have luxury. And don’t tell me that money plays a part. The luxury I advocate has nothing to do with money. It cannot be bought. It is the reward of those who have no fear of discomfort.”–Jena Cocteau
- “‘Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’ ‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.’I don’t much care where …’ said Alice.’Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.”-Lewis Carroll
- “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”–Samuel Beckett
- “Perfection is not when there is no more to add, but no more to take away.”—Antoine de Saint-Exupery