Q1 2016: Productivity/Planning Update

by Sunita

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.