Q1 2016: Productivity/Planning Update
I keep meaning to write monthly updates but my blogging mojo has been wintering somewhere warm, apparently. So, here’s a quarterly update:
Hobonichi Techo: Still using it, still love it. I don’t miss the weekly diary format as much as I thought I would. I use a Fine nib Pilot Metropolitan pen and it works well with the Tomoe River paper, which I love writing on.
I’m time-logging with colored Muji gel pens to mark work, daily/regular practice activities, chores, and social stuff. I’m happy to report that my Too Much Internet spells have decreased quite a bit.
I write daily tasks in a list on the right-hand side of the daily page. I try not to write more than 3-5 tasks a day, with the optimal being the three Most Important Things from the Zen to Done system.
Midori Passport: Still using it as my wallet and notebook. I like the idea of the Bullet Journal, but I just haven’t been able to get it to work for me. I need more than a daily task list and I don’t need a monthly list or index because I use a planner. So I abandoned the daily Task List/Notes system I had been using for the past year or so for a GTD Inbox-type dump list. Every few days I write the date at the top of a new page and write down everything I can think of that I need to remember to do, whether it’s to be done immediately or further down the road. Then I refer back to that list as I make my daily task list in the Hobonichi.
Online To Do list: Several years ago, when I used an iPhone for a while and had access to All The Apps In The World, I discovered a very simple To Do app called Do It Tomorrow. It has a two-page spread that looks like an open Moleskine notebook. The left page is for Today, the right page is for Tomorrow. Everything that isn’t for today gets put on the right-hand side. Since I don’t have many apps available for my phone, I am currently using the web version. I’m on the computer all day when I’m working, so I keep a tab open and check it throughout the day. That, together with my inbox and my daily Hobonichi list, more or less takes care of the day to day.
Daily & other regular practices: I’ve been faithfully doing my Morning Pages every day. I started January 3 and I’ve only missed two days, both semi-intentionally. I get a lot out of doing them and I factor them into my morning. If I can’t do them in the morning, I don’t do them, because they don’t work the same for me later in the day.
I came within one day of finishing the whole 9-week program of Couch to 5K when I came down with the flu and couldn’t do anything physically effortful for nearly three weeks (and then spring break happened). Last week I started back with Week 6, Day 2, and I’m up to Week 7 now. I will just keep increasing my time until I’ve finished the program, which should be in a couple of weeks.
Room for improvement: I’m doing more academic writing but not enough yet. I manage at least once a week, often more, but I want to get up to 4-5 days a week during the semester. But I’m spacing out my various regular practices in terms of how many I try to routinize at once. I’ve succeeded with Morning Pages and exercise, so this writing is next on my list.
I haven’t been knitting. Boo. That is also on deck to become a regular practice again. It will just be spring/summer rather than winter knitting. I can cope with that.
The multiple lists + inbox system is helping me organize my tasks, but I’m still not that good at projects. On my list (hah!) is making projects lists pages at the back of my Hobonichi. Once I write everything down, I can break the various projects into manageable bits, think about timelines, and integrate them into my daily and weekly lists.
I have a better handle on how I spend my days now (and where I burn/waste time) than I did at the beginning of the year. That helps me plan, and it also helps me feel less guilty about taking a morning or afternoon off. And it helps me cut down on internet and social media time. I try to be conscious of when I’m on Twitter or going down internet holes for an hour or more. Less time online is increasing my concentration and my ability to write and think clearly. It’s a work in progress, though, because there is always something new and shiny to read or comment on.
Mostly, I’m trying to emphasize process over outcome. If I have the process working for me, then the outcomes follow. It’s hard to get it to work in reverse.
We’re pulling for you to finish your Couch to 5K program! That’s great that everything so far is working for you and glad to hear that you’re become better organized with your online time. It’s okay to engage in social media (keep telling this to myself) but it shouldn’t be an all day thing or it shouldn’t occupy all of your day. Anyway, keep paging and improving.
While I’ve decreased social media time, I’ve increased a lot of TV time ::groan::: Which one is worse? Reading has been steady but it definitely takes a back seat to everything else.
Also, I signed up for an introductory offer at the WSJ yesterday 12 weeks for $12. I love reading their articles especially since they cover big pharma and politics, two of my biggest interests at the moment. I still use my planner and it’s quite bulky because I carry it with me to work. I like writing down my tasks (have about four for today). A work in progress. Oh, I’ve managed to save myself some money on several of my bills. Everyday, I try to find ways to save and I’m proud of myself for taking my lunch. Sorry for the verbal diarrhea. I love these posts of yours. Have a good day!
I am determined to finish it! The fact that I can actually *run* again after so many years of not being able to is a huge motivator. And I agree it’s good to engage with social media, just make sure you (the general you) know when it’s too much/not good for you, vs. when it’s an enjoyable activity. As is the case with most things.
We got the WSJ for years and years, and then we finally stopped the paper version. I’ve never been as good remembering to read the online version, but we’re thinking of going back to a paper newspaper in the fall. We are so OLD. But I do like it a lot (just avoid the stupid op-ed section and the 1% special weekend things, which every paper seems to have now).
Taking lunch is one of the most basic ways to save money. We try to do that too, but it all depends on what our leftover situation is. It requires planning! It sounds like you’re doing well with your 2016 resolutions, way to go!
I love these posts too! I have never gotten very far in C25K but I’m thinking of trying again this summer. The elliptical gets boring and when I’m not going to classes at work I end up working out less.
I am reading a parenting book right now and I had to laugh because it’s exactly what you said: build behaviors in tiny steps, one at a time, and if you work on and reward processes, the outcomes will follow. This stuff is really not rocket science, it’s just hard to do!
The whole process thing is so obvious in one sense; you can’t guarantee an outcome from a process-based approach, but you can at least trace where the break occurred if you don’t get your desired outcome. The reverse isn’t true as often.
My father was incredibly disciplined in his routines and practices. When I pointed that out to him once, he looked surprised and said that compared to *his* father, he was a slacker. 🙂 And having known my grandfather, I could see what he meant. It’s all perspective!
Add me to the “love these posts” crowd. 🙂
Morning Pages slipped out of my routine last fall, but I picked them up again at the end of January and have been doing really well. It’s weird how helpful they are and I definitely felt the lack.
Then I will write more of them. 🙂 I think they work for me because they allow me to use the tools I learned in therapy to work on my own, and I can vent without inflicting it on another human being. And also talking to myself about myself. Always so fascinating! 😉
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YES. That’s it. Good grief, I’ve gone through enough therapy to be able to do the same and Morning Pages make the thoughts/process accessible to me so I can apply the tools and make progress. Otherwise I just spin around inside my brain.
I didn’t realize how much like therapy they were until it struck me that there were things I couldn’t write down. For weeks. I finally got there, but it took daily writing and time.
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Again, YES. 🙂 I’ll be writing along about something completely mundane and then *BLURT* – I’m writing about the thing that’s been teasing around the edges of my conscious mind for ages. I guess it makes sense – knowledge at the point of utterance (or point of writing, I guess). And without the writing, I’m pretty sure the thing would never have made it into my conscious mind.
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[…] Sunita with an update on her various journals and planning systems. […]
I love your productivity posts. (I know I’ve said this before many times. Perhaps I should have a global comment from now on. You post, I love. There!)
I wish my days could be better organized. Every day is so crazy. I get up in the morning and it starts out sane but then immediately goes haywire and I rush around all day till I’m drooping in the evening. I want to be able to organize my days better and get a task list going and follow through on it, but somehow I can’t keep even my basic method going. I will just have to try harder.
I got the daily care tasks monthly chart from Natalie @eilatan that I’m trying to follow. However, I need a daily way to track what I’m doing, where, and when. Perhaps your little colorful graphic might do the trick. I want to be more efficient in how I use my Internet time. Blogs that I normally enjoy fall to the wayside if I hang out on Twitter too much, but the lure of WHAT AM I MISSING? is high.
Aww, thanks! And it’s much harder when you have Wee Ones and your own schedule is so dependent on other people’s schedules. I do find the time-logging useful. I don’t log every hour, but I try to put in work, goals-oriented time, and some chores.
Getting over Fear of Missing Out has helped a lot. I just don’t care that much now. And if something semi-major happens, one of my lovely friends lets me know. So I still manage to find out about things, just not always right away. 🙂