Making, Managing, Creating – Time

Sacha wrote a lovely post about her free time, and how she protects it. This led me to her reflections on overtime and the whole concept of “having too much time on your hands” by herself and by Cory Doctorow. (Incidentally, it’s great when people have large archives and link back to stuff you haven’t read).

Time

Credit: flikr / monkeyc.net

Doing a lot, and having too much time on my hands have both been things that people have said about me lately. The having too much time was described as “prioritizing badly” (i.e. should you be working on things like that when your thesis is not complete) but I think it amounted to the same thing.

What does all this mean? Because I don’t feel like I have too much time – I’m forever rushing from one thing to the next, missing out on things I want to do because other things takes precedence. I don’t know about doing a lot, because when I compare what I manage to do to the list of things I want to do what I manage to do seems a very small amount.

Over the holiday, I plan to focus on achieving more and being happier in the process. So far, this means that I want to carve out my time to be productive and balance it with time doing stuff I enjoy – skiing, reading novels, hanging out with my boyfriend and my friends. I want to learn how to say, I’ve not achieved everything I wanted to today, but it’s time to stop work now. And stick to it.

My biggest challenge? Strange schedules at university. Lectures in the evening throw off my days, last semester working Saturdays threw my week out of kilter. Lack of schedule means that I can allow these things to derail me and then my days lose their “flow”. At the start of the semester, I was working from about 8-4, and taking a break to go to the gym or whatever, or spend time with friends, and then any extra time I would spend reading articles and books that were helpful, but not as difficult to read as an academic paper.

But then crises hit, and I work the evenings because I think I need to. Eventually my mornings disappear and instead of a regular schedule I’m rushing about, forcing myself to make time to exercise, and frantically trying to be productive in every moment that’s left. The flow is gone. I can’t pick out the rhythm from the frantic din.

I think, if I’m more strict about stopping at the end of the day, I’ll be more eager to start the day in the morning.

How about you? How do you manage an overly flexible schedule or challenges such as non-standard working hours?

11 Thoughts

  1. Sacha Chua says:

    Thanks for reading and linking! =)

    It also helps to distinguish between all the things you want to do in a day, and just the things you need to do. I have an infinite task list, but only a few priorities each day. By realistically estimating how much I can actually accomplish and leaving time to explore, I get work done, keep expectations straight, don’t stress myself out, and save time for learning. =)

    It’s related to the glass half full / glass half empty thing. Taking the glass-half-full perspective is great. Celebrate what you accomplished instead of making yourself feel bad about what you didn’t. Even better than being a glass-half-full person, though, is being a right-size-glass person. 😉 Use each day as a learning opportunity to make your glass a better fit.

    Also, stopping in the middle of a task or before something you’re looking forward to is a good way to make it easier to get started the next day. You’re probably going to need to work or study no matter what, so it’s better to set yourself up to start happy instead of tired and burned out. =)

    Business trips often disrupted my schedule because I tried to pack too much into the evenings. I learned that when I start misplacing things (good warning sign!) or feel like I’m unraveling, I should cut down on my commitments and give myself time to breathe.

  2. Sacha Chua says:

    Thanks for reading and linking! =)

    It also helps to distinguish between all the things you want to do in a day, and just the things you need to do. I have an infinite task list, but only a few priorities each day. By realistically estimating how much I can actually accomplish and leaving time to explore, I get work done, keep expectations straight, don’t stress myself out, and save time for learning. =)

    It’s related to the glass half full / glass half empty thing. Taking the glass-half-full perspective is great. Celebrate what you accomplished instead of making yourself feel bad about what you didn’t. Even better than being a glass-half-full person, though, is being a right-size-glass person. 😉 Use each day as a learning opportunity to make your glass a better fit.

    Also, stopping in the middle of a task or before something you’re looking forward to is a good way to make it easier to get started the next day. You’re probably going to need to work or study no matter what, so it’s better to set yourself up to start happy instead of tired and burned out. =)

    Business trips often disrupted my schedule because I tried to pack too much into the evenings. I learned that when I start misplacing things (good warning sign!) or feel like I’m unraveling, I should cut down on my commitments and give myself time to breathe.

  3. […] got Friday off, I had already worked 40 hours from Monday to Thursday. But, as my friend and Cate (who is also attempting to manage her time better) likes to say, I’m probably not working effectively. Which I agree with. Lately, it feels […]

  4. Rachelle says:

    Great post Cate, I have been thinking about a lot about time management lately, often inspired by you – who (in response to your mentee/mentor post) I consider a mentor (even though you may not have been aware of that!)
    I am working to say stop rather than work nonstop too. Last night I had a bit I wanted to finish on a group project that has dragged over the holidays. I told myself (and JF!) I’d do half an hour – so ok, I did an hour and a half, but I’m still proud that I stopped at that point and did something non-work related after! Voluntarily! That is a big step for me. Usually when I stop and leave something I “should” be doing, my stress levels go awry and I have trouble staying calm about picking some time for me. The other day I was on the workaholics website (precipitated by a heated discussion at home) and was a bit scared to see how many traits applied to me and how much sense I still think they make!

  5. Rachelle says:

    Great post Cate, I have been thinking about a lot about time management lately, often inspired by you – who (in response to your mentee/mentor post) I consider a mentor (even though you may not have been aware of that!)
    I am working to say stop rather than work nonstop too. Last night I had a bit I wanted to finish on a group project that has dragged over the holidays. I told myself (and JF!) I’d do half an hour – so ok, I did an hour and a half, but I’m still proud that I stopped at that point and did something non-work related after! Voluntarily! That is a big step for me. Usually when I stop and leave something I “should” be doing, my stress levels go awry and I have trouble staying calm about picking some time for me. The other day I was on the workaholics website (precipitated by a heated discussion at home) and was a bit scared to see how many traits applied to me and how much sense I still think they make!

  6. […] Making, Managing, Creating Time […]

  7. Cate says:

    Sacha – thanks for your comment! Stopping in the middle of things would probably be the most challenging but most helpful thing for me! I’ve also found that scheduling by the week helps, because whilst days often get derailed over the course of the week things work out. I’ve definitely been over-scheduling my weeks, but I’ll keep trying and eventually work out the size of my glass as you suggest!

    I’ve been reading Getting Things Done, and it’s been helpful – the idea of scheduling things that *must* happen on a calendar will be super helpful to me. As is clearing out the ideas in my head onto an “inbox” list that I’ll process periodically. I’m optimistic that I’m building a toolset that will help me stay on top of things better.

  8. Cate says:

    Sacha – thanks for your comment! Stopping in the middle of things would probably be the most challenging but most helpful thing for me! I’ve also found that scheduling by the week helps, because whilst days often get derailed over the course of the week things work out. I’ve definitely been over-scheduling my weeks, but I’ll keep trying and eventually work out the size of my glass as you suggest!

    I’ve been reading Getting Things Done, and it’s been helpful – the idea of scheduling things that *must* happen on a calendar will be super helpful to me. As is clearing out the ideas in my head onto an “inbox” list that I’ll process periodically. I’m optimistic that I’m building a toolset that will help me stay on top of things better.

  9. Cate says:

    Rachelle – ohh that’s wonderful! Lets get together for coffee (tea!) and come up with a plan.

    Many people have been calling me a workoholic lately. That’s OK, it means I like what I do! I just need to manage it better :-)

  10. Cate says:

    Rachelle – ohh that’s wonderful! Lets get together for coffee (tea!) and come up with a plan.

    Many people have been calling me a workoholic lately. That’s OK, it means I like what I do! I just need to manage it better :-)

  11. […] you. The appeal of grad school is the flexibility – work when you want! Where you want! And that can come to mean “work everywhere, all the time” – but it shouldn’t. I did make some changes, though. I spent more time with friends. I stopped staring at hard […]

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