Lie 1: “It will take too long to do right now”

This is the first post addressing the three lies we believe that lead us into procrastination. See the introduction post here.

Original photo by William Warby

Original photo by William Warby

How many times have you thought, “I need to do _____” only to “realize” you don’t have enough time. Let’s be honest with ourselves: 9 times out of 10 that is not true in the least. When I first started attacking this idea that I didn’t have enough time, I started timing myself. I would stare at the pile of dishes and think, “I should do this but I’ll be late if I start now.” After I timed it, I realized it was a 3 minute job and I often had 5 to spare. This was such a freeing  realization because I sincerely believed both things: that I needed to do the job and that I didn’t have enough time. Soon I realized that this part of my brain was broken and I needed to acknowledge that the thought “it will take too long” should be treated as an unreliable calculation.

I’m not sure how this lie started worming its way into brains everywhere but it really needs to stop. If you think you don’t have time – try anyways and see how far you get. Half done dishes are better than never done. After you time yourself doing several activities that will “take too long” my guess is you’ll notice that they were a 10 minute job, not a 30 minute job your brain exploded the situation into.

Stresshacker.com affirms this and explains:

Learning to better estimate time to task completion is a skill that needs to be developed by procrastinators who, for whatever reason, seem to fall short of its mastery.

There you have it. Next time you think, “I don’t have time to do that right now” call your own bluff and give it a try!

 

Chronodex: an introduction to the visual time management system

chronodextitle

There are two places I get good ideas about my life: Pinterest and my husband. This week my cousin-in-law (is that a thing?) pinned a picture of the chronodex/hyperdex/spiraldex and if you’re looking at these for the first time you’re probably thinking, “How the heck does this work?”

As I started googling it I found out a few things:

  1. It’s time management for visually oriented people.
  2. It’s created by Patrick Ng at Scription
  3. Chronodex is the original but since then people have adapted it to suit their needs. Now there’s hyperdex, spiraldex etc.
  4. It’s super useful if you want to track how you’re multitasking/layering OR track different schedules

How do you use it?

 

CHRONODEX

A chronodex version of 2 schedules. It's less obvious there are 2.

A chronodex version of 2 schedules. It’s less obvious there are 2.

Let’s take a look at the Chronodex first. It’s fashioned after a clock and depending on the version you have it has 12h-24 on it. Basically, you colour in when you’re busy either before your day starts or after to track what you did. I usually did this with my Google Calendar at work. In some ways it’s the same as having a Google Calendar or using multiple calendars on the same view, except that this is for people who like to use paper and probably those who like to make things pretty. 

What’s very different from a clock (and from the hyperdex & spiraldex) is the different widths of certain hours. This is how I’mJulie explains it in her review:

Many people wonder why there are 3 different lengths to the time section (short, medium and long). The idea behind it is quite smart: It’s made for all you multi-taskers out there. When you are doing a task that can not be mixed with anything else (like filming a video, creating an outline for your future online course or writing a blog post) you will fill in the time slot to it’s full length (even if the time wedge is shorter, you’re allowed to go outside the lines). If the task was something you can mutli-task (like exporting a video while you make lunch) you will color a part of the height of the wedge with one color and the rest with the other (to represent 2 types of tasks that you did during that piece of time).

In the above picture I was trying to track when Jack eats and sleeps so I can plan what I do during or around those times. The blue is when he naps (though not nearly as long as an hour). But my plan got broken down because I couldn’t quite figure out the chronodex. Do I colour outside the line? Plus, it has aspects of the spiraldex where the hours build on each other like a spiral. For this reason I  the hyperdex.

LM-Hyperdex

HYPERDEX

The hyperdex was derived from the chronodex by DIYfish. It features the 24h clock which is why I like it. It has 24 slots around and multiple rows which enables better layering/scheduling tracking (in my opinion at least).

hyperdexroughHere’s what I threw together in terms of a typical day for Jack and I.I used an image I found on Google images.

His eating schedule is determined by when he wakes up and then follows 2h after, then every 3h, then kind of whenever come the evening (usually 2h-1h). So if we wake up at 7am then it goes 7,9,12,3,5,6 then he’s down for the night. It’s kind of odd maybe but that’s what he seems to like and it works fine for me. We’re still working out regular nap times and the last week he’s only been napping for 30 mins so we’ll work on that.

The smallest circle is Jack’s life, the next one out is me. If I want to build a routine based around morning, evening and his nap times, this works well as a visualization tool for me. I just do that stuff in the fuchsia (it looks more red here) block.

SPIRALDEX

spiraldexThe spiraldex has 24h in it but only one row, so if you want to track layering, then you’re on your own to divide the boxes. The spiral is also smaller than the full 24h circle which may appeal to you for whatever reason. Other than those features it works the same way.

More reading

If you want to know more you can check out these links:

So, do you think you’ll make use of this? I’m still wondering if I’ll like it.

Manage your day-to-day

manage-your-day-to-dayLast month I read Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind by assorted authors. Each chapter was an essay written by productivity/life-hacking experts like Leo Babauta, Seth Godin, Scott Belsky etc.. It was a great read considering it had helpful, distilled, ideas by great leaders in this area, all for only $4 on Kindle.

The book itself is meant to help creatives harness their energy to get their work done. Writers, designers, speakers etc sometimes have a hard time getting to the “real work” because they’re too busy responding to emails or putting out fires set by other people. Here are a few of the quotes that really stuck out to me:

Gretchen Rubin On Writing

“Because I write every day, no one day’s work seems particularly important.”
“What I do every day matters more than what I do once in a while.”

Seth Godin on Honing your creative practice

“Because lots and lots of people are creative when they feel like it, but you are only going to become a professional if you do it when you don’t feel like it.”

“The reason you might be having trouble with your practice in the long run—if you were capable of building a practice in the short run—is nearly always because you are afraid.”

“These people sabotage themselves because the alternative is to put themselves into the world as someone who knows what they are doing.”

Tony Schwartz on Building Renewal into your workday

“What’s changed is that between digital technology and rising complexity, there’s more information and more requests coming at us, faster and more relentlessly than ever.”

“Sleep is more important than food.”

And my favourite:

“Waiting for inspiration to write is like standing at the airport waiting for a train.”

-Leigh Michaels

These essays reminded me of what I already know and have said many times: you have to fight to prioritize the important stuff, even if it’s your job to do that stuff. I particularly appreciated the sections on writing. They were a good reminder, that “real” writers don’t wait for inspiration to hit, they have to show up every day to “work” too, even if it is their make-shift kitchen table office. Great food for thought.

I recommend it if you’re trying to figure out how to manage your physical energy, time or creative energy. It’s a steal at $4.03!

The role of ‘productivity’ in reaching our goals

goals

Source: THEMACGIRL*

Don’t forget the giveaway that finishes tomorrow. Click here for more details.

As I’ve been working on this blog and flushing out my ideas, I’ve realized that maybe I haven’t really been clear about the link between productivity and reaching my goals. In my head it’s clear, but you might be thinking “if this blog is about reaching her goals, why does she talk about productivity so much?”

Why productivity?

When I was thinking through topics I know about and enjoy learning more about productivity was on the list. I didn’t want my blog to be just another talking about the exact same things as everyone else, but more importantly, I wanted it to be something that was true to me. Over the last few years I’ve learned things about working more efficiently that I’ve tried to pass on to others, but didn’t really have one place I could send the people I was teaching. This blog is now that one place.

More than that, I do believe that if we can harness some of our wasted energy we have more to put in other places that require more energy. This is where productivity comes in. If I build good habits now, I’ll be that much more likely to have success in accomplishing my goals as my life becomes more and more complex. I’m still in the early stages of a lot of these goals, as you very well know. I’m determined to do my best to make them happen, which involves tweaking things in the process to achieving those goals.

What do you mean?

Here’s an example: if I have a weekly routine of work, meal planning and prep, getting groceries, running, my morning routine etc. then I don’t have to think about it. I have a lot less resistance due to less decision fatigue. If that freaks you out because it’s too repetitive, I agree. However, I’ve learned that there is tremendous freedom in structure.

Your turn

Have you had an experience where you found yourself running on optimized performance or running on all cylinders because you had planned and structured your life well? Do you think you could never organize yourself well enough to do that? I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments.

 

The UnSchedule

It’s Day 3 of my giveaway of The Now Habit by Neil Fiore. It’s outrageously helpful in battling procrastination. Click here for rules on how to enter the draw. Good luck!
fran

Example from the book of an Unschedule.

One of the many things I found helpful in The Now Habit was The Unschedule. Fiore developed this over about 10 years on clients until he felt it was perfected and used it in his book. It’s a concept that will surprise many because you start by filling in your schedule with your non-work activities. Why? There are a few reasons: 1) to show you how busy you actually are with other things so that when you think “oh, I can do that later” the reality is is that there probably isn’t a later because you’re busy with other life activities; 2) often procrastinators isolate themselves from other people because they aren’t getting their work done. They live in a cycle of procrastination and unintended social punishment, which generally makes life miserable. Here’s the complete guide to how to make your own Unschedule (without all the background information which is actually very helpful):

  1. Schedule only non-work activities
    This includes:

    • Previously committed time such as meals, sleep, meetings
    • Free time, recreation, leisure reading
    • Socializing, lunches, and dinners with friends
    • Health activities like going to the gym
    • Routine events such as commuting, classes, appointments
  2. Fill in your Unschedule with work on projects only after you’ve completed at least one-half hour of uninterrupted work
  3. Take credit only for periods of work that represent at least thirty minutes of uninterrupted work.
  4. Reward yourself with a fun activity after each period of work
  5. Track of the number of quality hours worked each day and each week.
  6. Schedule at least one full day for fun and small chores.
  7. Before doing something fun, do thirty minutes of work on your projects
  8. Focus on starting and the next action (rather than finishing the whole project)
  9. Think small
  10. Keep starting
  11. Never end “down”
    Never take a break when you’re stuck or ready to give up. Always stay with a tough spot for another five or ten minutes, trying to come up with a partial solution that you can pursue later.
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