I worked 24:19 hours last week, which was 14 hours more than I wanted. What happened? I started my awesome time tracking system, I’m being more efficient and productive and I feel like I’m accomplishing more things. Then why can’t I sleep?
I can’t seem to stop. My processes are too good, they’re making me power through my tasks and I’m not wasting anytime. The thing is, my system is set up to DO not to STOP. Oops. So basically I’ve put together something so awesome that it actually makes me do the thing I set out to do in the first place! (Without realising I also needed a way to stop).
I like to-do lists, a lot. I also like order, neat things and rows. I thought I enjoyed multi-tasking, to have the rush of knowing that you’re working on so many super important things at the same time. But I sometimes would loose focus and would be doing things up to the last minute. And even though the results were always completely satisfactory, the process of how I got there just wasn’t ideal. I decided I wanted a change. Surely not all my tasks were super important every single minute of every single day, right? I had to prioritise, but how?
As with all new jobs, there’s a period of utter confusion. For me I was confused at how I should react to people: why couldn’t I communicate properly and why weren’t people listening to my solutions? The thing was, there wasn’t a problem that needed fixing, and I was in fix-it mode. I was also making it about me, when it wasn’t and it isn’t, and that made things so much easier. I listened instead of just hearing, I found ways that others preferred to communicate and I found out what they actually needed from me, and I wasn’t confused anymore.
Down the list
I conquered my obstacle of not making it about me, so after I did my celebratory bop, it was time to tackle the tasks. I had my blue spiral notebook where I wrote down my to-dos. But I quickly found that I was letting things slip. I had to keep moving the tasks to the next day and things just weren’t getting done. Panic! So I moved my to-do list to digital. I used Highrise to essentially replicate what I was writing down my day to day tasks. It was naturally a lot easier to copy, paste and format. Then I found that I things still slipped, that my today tasks became “moved to tomorrow” tasks. And I felt guilty.
To solve this guilt dilemma, I broke down my to-do lists (just like how I was taught to write essays in high school). I used subheadings:
- Tasks Today
- For Tomorrow
- For This Week
- For Next Week
I found that instead of writing “moved to tomorrow” to “for tomorrow,” my guilt disappeared. My attitude changed from “but if I just spend five more minutes I can get it done now” to “OK, I can do this tomorrow – or hang on, wait – when is the actual deadline?” I also found that having a space for my random “super cool ideas” made it easier than ignoring the nagging-me voice saying “but it IS cool, make the idea happen now”. Because by getting that thought out of my head, it gave me time to think about it without making it an accidental priority.
All my subheadings and lists were all well and good, but I needed an external push to get things done in time. So my tracking system was born. As soon as I hit the little start buzzer, it was game on. From Highrise, I’d group the tasks per project, copy it into my timer app and break down the tasks into bite size pieces. This then made it super easy to actually get stuff done. If I decided that when it was time to stop I’d put ticks on the completed tasks and move the other tasks to Highrise, ready for when I want to do them next.
My obsession with non-chaos
I thought this was the perfect way to continue my obsession with non-chaos and – bonus – get stuff done. And it is a system that works for me, for now. Once I tick off my to-dos, have a think about what I need to do next, I clock off for the time being and go and relax, breathe, make tea, until it’s time to start again.
But hang on..
Why can’t I sleep? It’s not because of the system, it’s not because I haven’t thought through everything, because I’m using Highrise as my brain dump. So what is it? It’s me. And that’s not a bad thing! In fact, it makes it easier to handle. Because, in my opinion, processes are only as good as those that use them. My to-do system does what it needs to do but I have to be the one to stop. I have to find a way to make it as easy for me to stop as it is for me to go and do.
And so that’s what I’ll do. It’s going to be tough, but I can only start by trying. I have set up a system (which – yes – I’m very proud of), so now I need to fulfil my end of the bargain, which is to train myself to stop. And because I’m on my clock. If I feel like a 5 minute break or a 5 hour break, it’s completely up to me. And that’s awesome.