Experiments in Time (and Self) Management

Confession: I used to look down on to-do lists

And I would judge the people that created them. In my own perceived self-importance, I thought, "How superficial can you be, to just get high checking things off and never be done with anything?" I never claimed this was a nice thought! 

Since I started using my Ink + Volt to-do list daily, I've seen a change in that. Without a "job" with a set schedule of clock in-clock out, how many hours I spend working each day is essentially up to me - which can be a positive or detrimental fact. I found that laying out what I needed to (and expected myself to) do each day was helpful creating my days and sharing expectations with others. These line items were typically informed by project plans (bus, business, education), commitments (chores, appointments, self-care), and begrudgingly: stuff that just popped up and seemed urgent. 

While the to-do list was helpful, I still didn't feel my relationship with time improving enough. I was still overcommitting on the list, scattered throughout the day (laundry, fix a website typo, write a social media strategy, finish Lesson 1 in my Herbalism course, go to Home Depot). I felt myself slipping away from the satisfaction of "progress" that I was used to when I completed small milestones on a regular basis, and ticked off BIG projects, no just small activities. 

Through all of this, I was still using my Mac calendar to time-block my hours (unsuccessfully) with the hopes of creating "order" in my world. 

Then, this blog post from the Ink + Volt team came to my inbox. Busy is Not Productive. 

I'd secretly (uh, from who, me?) been using my Volt Planner as more of a creative outlet for drawing on the calendar, rather than an organizational tool. I was intimidated by the chunky blocks of "morning" "noon" "night". How could something not happen if it didn't have any hour attached to it? How would I ever get anything done? 

If you hop from task to task too quickly, it is really hard to make significant progress on any of them. This is fine for smaller tasks, sprinkled throughout your day, but for work that really matters, you simply need TIME.

The best work happens when you are in a state of flow, which often takes hours to truly achieve and get real value from.
— Kate Frachon, Ink + Volt Blog

So, it's the middle of August. I've had my Volt Planner for a month and, in an effort to reduce busy, increase completion, and instill a sense of peace with time, I'm finally going to start using this planner as it was meant to be used. What does that mean? 

  • Utilizing my best time (morning) to do my best work
  • Recognizing that from 2pm - onward, I'm most suited to chores and artistic pursuits
  • Revamping my to-do list from being an "EVERYTHING" brain dump to being a specific time of day, in which I complete those items
  • Continuing to share on my blog how my relationship to time and self-management develops

What are your struggles when it comes to time and self-management? What tools do you employ to help you reach your goals?