Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Blog Necromancy and Time Management

I've been on a zombie kick lately, so I suppose it's only appropriate for me to raise the ol' blog from the dead again. This time I was inspired to write after reading my friend Marina's blog post in which she discussed creating a better, more efficient To-Do list. Having had good success a few years back with the idea of the $35,000 list when I was self-motivating to paint more commissions I fell out of the habit and subsequently my life has been kind of falling to shit. I need something better.

When I was doing the "6 things that had to get done the next day" list it ran into a number of problems, the two biggest being that a lot of daily chores got on there (I REALLY need to do dishes tomorrow...) and my wife would see my list and start adding things SHE thought were important to it, so that instead of a list of my 6 most important projects I needed to get done I had a list of 6 marginally important Honey-Do chores every day. Make that happen every single day and it's easy to see why it fell apart and I stopped doing it.

One of the great benefits of my current job is that I have ample time sitting at a computer with nothing to do, so I would like to figure out ways to more efficiently use this resource. Time is always one of my big constraints on doing things I want/need to do, so turning down time where I'm trapped at work sitting on my butt into checking items off a list seems like a good move. I currently waste most of this time farting around on the internet (doing things like writing a blog post...), so this seems like an ideal place to re-focus some energy.

I made a Google Document of a To-Do list. I don't think it's done, but it's a completely transparent attempt to cash in on Marina's great idea and customize it to my situation. I have a lot of chores that do need to get done, and I need to not forget about them, but I also have important projects that I've been slacking on (sometimes for dangerous amounts of time) that I shouldn't be ignoring any more, and those needed a spot. I like the "10th step" verbing that Marina used, as it will hopefully help me re-focus at the end of every day and prevent the list from devolving into the last one, as well as just keeping me honest with myself.

My original idea was to print the list out at the beginning of every week, but then I realized that doing so would defeat one of the greatest strengths of the digital document - the fact that I don't really need to worry about formatting as much (especially important in the 10th step part) and can be as verbose as required for a particular situation. So including Monday and Tuesday (when I started this), I have the beginnings of what this actual week is looking like, and how I'm doing.

As you can see, I didn't end up getting much done yesterday. I went home, started dinner, then played a single-player game of Deadzone. Jackie got home and had to leave immediately for an HOA meeting, so I was left to my own devices, which ended up being watching TV and screwing around with miniatures stuff. In the back of my head I knew I needed to do some of this stuff, but I just...didn't. So that was bad. That Google Doc has a 10th Step sheet attached to it, which ended up looking like this:

I like this part a lot. I am a master of ignoring problems and deceiving myself, so forcing myself to face the fact that I basically just flaked last night is eating away at me. I brought some of the pile of mail with me to work, and hope to get a start on that today, as well as call AT&T and deal with customer support for however long it takes to figure out why our internet sucks butts right now, then probably call the DMV to decipher the cryptic piece of mail I received (Do I owe them money? Do I need to get my car smogged? Did I just forget to sign something?). If I can knock those things out while bored at work I'll be miles ahead of where I was this morning, and in a good spot to weed eat the lawn (it's too small to mow properly), water the plants (it's not a long or difficult chore, I just always forget and they keep dying), and do the dishes (I have heard rumors that if I can keep on doing them every day or two they won't pile up into a terrifying mound of filth!).

By that point I should feel accomplished enough that I won't mind going to the bottom part of the list, which is basically the fun stuff I want to make sure I have time for. This part is important for me, because if I neglect to make time to play games I will end up being miserable and will get even less done. I will reward myself for being so productive today by playing Deadzone, most likely. I can't do any painting because my painting desk is covered in shit, so I'm motivated to check off that item as it will allow me to unlock other fun things I can be doing. If I extend this logic I should be able to turn this list into a way to do more of the things I've wanted to by doing more of the things I've needed to. Exercise will assuredly end up in the daily section pretty soon.

I also started a Someday Maybe list in the same Google Doc Folder, which I will use to kind of eyeball and think about the projects I need to do, but that are really back burner things. I can use this space to start planning them when I get bursts of inspiration, and the closer I get to having a fully fleshed-out plan the more likely I'll be to actually get started on those things. Just setting it up made me realize I'm way closer to the laundry room project than I thought I was from my disorganized notes on my phone, so I may try to get that done within a month or two.

Anyway, this whole thing may fizzle out completely, but I really hope not. I need to start making serious progress on some life goals, and getting on top of daily chores is something I need to be doing. I'll probably edit the lists to add other dailies as they come up, but for now this seems like a solid start.