Friday, May 23, 2008

Doing what my calendar tells me to do

One of the things I've been wrestling with this week is figuring out a way to mark off some time for everything I want and need to do--and still feel like I can kick back with a beer on the weekends. Some of this work will have to wait until I return on Tuesday because I've refused to look at work email or the work calendar this whole week. I've already started thinking about what I need to get done next week. And I'm trying not to think about it. Looking at work stuff would just open the floodgates.

A while back, I put all kinds of things on my calendar--recycling schedule, workout schedule, cleaning schedule--and it didn't take long before I ignored them. The recycling schedule has actually changed but I haven't entered it into the calendar yet. I'm one of those people who will mentally say, "Okay, I'm going to do x until 11, and then take a break, then work on x until 2." Sometimes I actually mark that on the calendar. What I want to do when I return to work is do more marking off of the calendar and then, I need to actually do what it says. The problem is, more so at work than at home, is that it's easy to be distracted and to get sucked into crises that crop up. I need a way to manage access to me and my expertise. I know that sounds odd, but it's true. So, for accountability's sake, here's some things I want to work on:
  1. Hone my process for checking email and the ticket system. Ideally, I'd like to connect the two, but from what I understand the email notification part of the ticket system is somewhat broken. I want to get away from checking email all. the. time. And I need to check the ticket system more frequently. My thoughts are that email should get checked three times a day while the ticket system can be checked once a day, perhaps an hour or so before the day is over. I might want to put these on the calendar and/or set an alarm to notify me.
  2. Schedule time for the review process. In the GTD system, this is what gets most neglected. I was trying to do this on Fridays, but I think Mondays are better. That way, I can scan the week's calendar, scheduling things as necessary.
  3. Schedule time for getting the little things done. I often have a list of things that take 5-10 minutes each. I often tackle these when my brain is fried, but they sometimes pile up when I don't take the time to do this. I don't need time every day, but maybe every other day.
  4. Figure out if there are things other people can do. I'm constantly trying to figure out if certain tasks should really be done by someone else, not necessarily because I don't want to do them, but because the task would get done faster by someone else. For exLinkample, the help desk manages the simplest of Blackboard issues: logging in, how to upload a document, etc. In theory, this frees me up to work with people on larger issues such as course design. But I think there's more support like this that I can and should find.
  5. The bottom line is, I need to do what my lists and calendars tell me to do. If I'm going to put effort into planning my time, so that, in theory, I'll be more productive and have more free time, then I need to follow my plans.
  6. Finally, I need to be more zen about the stuff that comes in and find a way to explain calmly to people why stuff can't happen right. this. minute. This is going to be the hardest part I think, both for me and for others.
Actually, I'm thinking that this resource might help me work my system better. Other tips and suggestions most welcome.