Given that my brain is still ticking over what I hope to get done next year, due to all the changes that are about to happen in my life, (ie. becoming a parent for the first time), the articles really got me thinking, and wanting to change how I do things.
Thing is: if the amount of time you devote to lite correspondence with individual people exceeds the amount of time you spend on making things, then you may be in a different line of work than you’d originally thought you were. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But if you’re feeling off your game, it might be a good time to ask yourself whether you’re primarily a writer of novels or of email messages. Do you generate more IMs than comic panels? Have you drafted more web comments than scenes in your screenplay? Or, for that matter, do you find you’re taking more meetings than photos these days?
I’ve spent this year feeling incredibly busy, and – actually – getting alot of stuff done. But not always getting the stuff I really wanted to get done. Not really pushing things (my work, decorating, the jobs that need doing, and have needed doing for a while now), as far as they could go.
I don’t mean in a perfectionist way, I just mean in a way that means I can look back at the week, and see what I’ve done with it, as least a decent amount of the time.
Personally, for me, it’s less about randomly communicating with people (given that I’m quite shy in some respects, and naturally tend to hold back – which is why I never really hang out on forums), it’s more about ‘finding stuff out’ and reading things.
One thing that I’ve really been aware of – given that I work from home in front of my computer for much of the time – is that there have been far too many tabs open in Firefox, and for far too long. They have sat there temping me to check my email (again), spend 30 seconds seeing if anyone has queued something new in Ravelry (again), see if google reader has collected up any new content (again).
None of these things take very long, and I can still get stuff done, but I know I’m wasting time that I just plain won’t have available to waste in a couple of months time.
Basically I have to cut out the vast majority of the faffing that I do.
(When I start getting annoyed with other people’s faffing, then that’s a big honking sign that I’m faffing too much too.)
So this is what I’ve done:
- I’ve shut down my IM (which I was only really using as a way of seeing a preview of my emails as they popped up, but was also sending a sign to a handful of people that I occasionally chat to, that I was available to chat, when really I wasn’t – how the hell were they supposed to know that?)
- I’ve turned off the new email alert on my other email programme, and I just go and check it at set points during the day (although those set points are still in the midst of being organised.) Both these first two things are helping me to break my usual Pavlovian respond to email pings that really don’t need to be check the very second they come through, especially when half the time they are bumf emails from various companies who want me to buy more stuff from them – oh and I went and finally removed myself from those email lists too, so that that would stop happening.)
- I’ve separated my current tabs into bookmarked folders – ‘things to read and think about (when i have a few spare minutes)‘, ‘things I need to respond to‘, ‘recipes to try‘, and a folder for the tabs needed for each part of my working life. Everything else is in an other separate folder that I can slowly start going through and cleaning out. (Or, if I don’t get to it in 6 months – straight deleted.)
- I already had all my regularly used links as part of my firefox tool bar, but now I’m using them everyday. So, for example, gmail isn’t left open in a tab, I load it up, use it, and then close it back down again. (This might sound obvious, but it’s a massive change for me.)
- Whereas before I would have had (as a minimum) the following tabs open: gmail, googlereader, ravelry, wordpress, and lj open, PLUS work tabs, AND ‘tabs that I need to go back and sort out or respond to, but haven’t yet’. (Added bonus – firefox is no-longer sucking all of the life out of my CPU.) Now I have whatever I’m working on at that given time. So right now I have wordpress (obviously), and the third part of ‘Making Time to Make’ to refer to. It’s like working at a clear tidy desk. I didn’t realise how much I needed that to be able to think straight.
Why am I telling you all this? – mainly because I thought that other people might be struggling too, and might find the articles useful (as I have.)
Also because getting it written down is helping me to really think about what I want to achieve, and how I might go about getting things done in a way that makes me feel better about everything.
Also it’s cathartic.
I have a bit more to say, but I’m going to leave that for another post, since I’m straying (and may already have strayed) into TL:DR territory.