How I organise my time
If you’re looking to improve your productivity you’re in the wrong place.
I don’t care much about tracking productivity because I am not a machine that can be optimised. I am a human who struggles, on some days I just don’t produce much work, sometimes nothing at all. The way I plan my week ensures I get something done, and completely ignores speed. Slow progress is still progress. It’s more about preserving momentum than ensuring I achieve some metric that optimises my productivity.
Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans. - Allen Saunders
I don’t like planning my day down to the minute. Life always gets in the way, or perhaps more accurately, the universe doesn’t care about my pitiful attempts at planning for the (near-immediate) future, she does as she pleases.
I still think it makes sense to plan for the future. I have ideas about what I’d like to be doing at 35, 40, 50, 60, and 70. Beyond that seems a bit too optimistic for my taste. All of those plans are based around what I value.
Values change over time, but generally not by much. For example, I value my health, and always will. How I’ll go about maintaining and improving it does change. I love running currently, but I don’t know how long I can keep doing it. Maybe I’ll injure my knee some day, or lose my leg, and have to adapt.
My calendar is meant to remind me of my long-term commitments; be it birthdays, deadlines, or appointments. Nothing else is on there. I first started doing this in college when I was taking on more credits (89ECTS) than the average student (60ECTS) and succeeded.
I wake up and plan my day. That takes no time at all, usually, because all I gotta do is pick a single task. I pick easy ones first, unless there are none. It’s just to get the ball rolling.
Makes it easy not to feel overwhelmed and I set myself up for success. I rarely do just one thing. If I exceed my one completed task for the day I get a boost in motivation. If I can’t get it done then that usually means I need to break the task down into smaller bits.
I organize my day around ‘blocks of time’. I allocate one ‘health’ block, and one ‘focus’ block to any single day. It doesn’t matter when I do them. I don’t care about how many hours I work on any single day, as long as it’s focused and deliberate. I’m basically guaranteed that something good will get done during any single week.
It’s foolish to think that life will go like you think it will, but I still feel there’s value in planning for your future. It gives you something to direct your attention and energy towards.
I use the same concept to plan for the future: future blocks.
I always wanted to be a scientist. I needed a dream to work towards to endure the pain I was in when I was just a child. I remember lying in bed dreaming of a better life, and what came to mind was the idea of becoming an archaeologist, since I had a fascination with dinosaurs at the time.
I didn’t know how I was going to achieve my dream, or when.
My grades sucked, so much so that some teachers floated the idea of me having a learning disability requiring specialists. A deeply traumatized and bored child won’t show interest in their education; obvious to anyone with half a brain, but my teachers were dumb and incompetent.
I didn’t become an archaeologist. I was on that path for a long time, until the world started to change and I had to change along with it. Computers had just come unto the scene! They were slow, but fun. It made more sense to plan for IT and business than archaeology. I pivoted to learning IT in my own time and taking whatever classes I could get since I was already stuck on the “Economics” path.
I stuck with that direction with the intention to marry IT and Economics and work at its intersection, but then I took classes on sustainability and got confused about what to do next. I worked alongside key figures for a while, got to talk to them, even worked on a company to sell sustainable underwear for a while, but life had other plans for me.
I got sick enough to be stuck in bed for two years.
I didn’t want to do nothing but recover, so I ventured to learn the skills necessary to launch a company from my bedroom. Another pivot because life demanded it. That’s just how it goes. I’m still trying to achieve financial independence, that’s the “future block” currently in play. I’m thinking of pivoting again, albeit slightly.
One of two things could happen. I either achieve my dream of financial independence on time or my circumstances change and I’m forced to reconsider. You are a product of your time and the experiences that have led you to this point. That’s life. Remember that your circumstances inform when you need to pivot away from your chosen “future block”.