Seeing how to get things done

This week I’ve invested some time in thinking about time and how to spend it well. I was prompted by someone dear to me, who is currently challenged by a peculiar combination of:

  1. a disruptive schedule – teaching 9 classes a week in 8 venues
  2. a natural aversion to administrative work
  3. a hankering to play music and sculpt stone

His disruptive schedule (1) creates a general condition of restlessness, which amplifies the effect of his natural aversion (2), causing certain kinds of work to pile up even more than they otherwise might. Both of those factors then work to increase his hankering (3) because the general restlessness and the agitation – of knowing there is a pile of work looming ever larger – join forces to thwart the creative impulse. Which in turn exacerbates the restlessness and agitation. It’s a vicious circle of joyless dissatisfaction.

Doodle – cycle of restlessnes, work piling up, creativity stifling

To solve the angry jellyfish dilemma, we have devised a simple, twofold plan:

  • Find a good tool for listing, prioritising and tracking all the Things That Need Doing – currently trying out the (Mac) tool Things.
  • Create a timetable for the working week, so it’s clear what time is available when; schedule in some regular (but short!) periods of time for finding admin joy; and identify where creative exploration and expression might fit.

Below is the first-draft timetable, made in InDesign. I couldn’t find a template to start from, so for anyone else who might use it, here is the timetable template – 450kb zip file of an InDesign template. (And if someone out there can tell me how to get a full choice of colours in the fill for the table cell style, rather than be limited to a range of about 5 CMYK colours, I’d be grateful! Flip, maybe I should have made it in Graffle.)

The timetable seems to be helping already, to reveal the time that is there for the things that need doing; so he can see how to get them done. So, hooray. Maybe I should have called this post ‘How a timetable can soothe an angry jellyfish’.


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