Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Time budget redux

How quickly can I slide into a yawning maw of time wasters and frittering? How quickly can clutter blindness sneak up on me? How fast can the first quarter of the year pass by?

You wouldn't think that these are the burning questions of my life, but at least I can give answers - or the same answer to all three - "like greased lightning".

It's not that I haven't had accomplishments. I've completed our business plan and sent it to three kind mentors to get feedback - which has been incredibly, dazzlingly useful. As it turns out, I guess I haven't completed our business plan.

I'm more than half way through the layout, and almost entirely done with the writing of our first big title, and we are spending time every weekend taking gorgeous photos for it.

I've written a short crafting e-book that now only needs illustrating. (Only! That will be 150 photos too, I expect). I've completed a sample of a doll for a very nice project for my friend in Australia. I've planned out the sequence of my articles for Natural Life Magazine's website. I've made a start on my conference presentation for NEUC in August. I've even completed our tax return, so we know what we owe.

Working model of a flip doll.

At this point, in the middle of the swirl, nothing is actually finished. Despite several full-car trips to the recycler, my house is a disaster, and I suspect even Jayn is getting tired of take out. But the realization that this is not really very productive for three months of supposedly full time effort disturbs my serenity most of all.

Three months ago I left my job at Michaels for the purpose of concentrating on my own work.It was a bold leap of faith in our big idea. At the time I also left behind my time budget. Without it, I realize I've been more adrift that I want to admit, more startled by urgent, sudden deadlines, and most certainly more easily distracted by the fun, frittering stuff of social media. Instead of planning ahead and scheduling month by month activities (other than a couple of unchanging routine deadlines), I've been starting each day overwhelmed with too many choices, and askew priorities.

So since the last time budget did help a lot, although not without imperfections, I have made a new time budget, allocating percentages of my time around my priorities, prioritizing based on the Eisenhower/Stephen Covey Urgent/Important Matrix. Unlike the last time budget which was a monthly projection (one of the things that made it too easy to excuse myself from sometimes), I have allocated my time on a weekly time table, with the awareness that some activities have to be daily.

My diverse daily activities (30%) will take up 4.75 hours per day, not in a single chunk, since this includes cooking which happens several times, household duties (varies), business marketing including research, and 45 minutes for email and Facebook fun. (Stop laughing, this is serious - I'm going to set a timer).

Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I will be doing all out (a whopping 45% for the top priority) my new business venture, the task list for which has already been created using WorkFlowy. Tuesdays I will be screenwriting (10%) for most of the day, and getting in some other doll art/crafting (5%) for different purposes in the evening. Thursday I will be working on other writing (10%), at the moment my Upcycled clothing book. This leaves the weekend for the photography (mostly part of that 45%) - a family activity - and anything else that should come up business wise, like new commissions. (BTW - Don't do the whacky math. I have worked it through and I'm happy - some work days are longer than others.)

I'm so lucky that almost all this happens in the same room as Jayn's favorite activities. She's been pretty keen to help with the making and crafting of different things. Also this is a guide. There will never be a time when I say we can't go on an outing with our friends because today is a work day, as it was when I was actually working out of the house.

So, today is Tuesday. I've been doing this writing instead of screenwriting for a while. Where's that timer?

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