I’d spent a week whining and whingeing about not having the right applications for my writing and stamping my feet like a toddler. During that time, I’d migrated my tasks to Noteplan. Having my notes and tasks in that one app would allow me to time block there too. Talk about efficient.
Noteplan is a fine piece of work, and properly used is indeed efficient. As a task manager, it does pretty much everything one might ask of it. All on a base of Markdown files. I should have loved it. But I didn’t. Once I’d decided that I wasn’t going to use it for notes, there was no way that I was going to adopt it as a task manager. I reverted to Things. I’d only decided a few months back that it was the best for me.
What about time blocking though? Everyone discovered during lockdowns that if you don’t decide what you’re working on, then life will do it for you. Sometimes, I’ll jot down things that I want to do for the morning:
( ) Check E-mail
( ) Check socials
( ) Update accounts
( ) Write blog post
( ) Write novel chapter
( ) Do washing
( ) Change beds
( ) Read Chapters 8 & 9
( ) Clean golf clubs
All seems fine. The machine does the washing, doesn’t it? Reading is not really working - all good.
If I time block it though - it’s a different story. I need six or seven hours, not a morning. Blocking out periods to complete specific tasks works. It gives me the opportunity to decide what is most important and be realistic about what can be achieved. As ever - I searched for the best application to manage this. There are a few - but ultimately, a calendar is perfect. It already has my events and appointments, so a daily or weekly view is the perfect place to assign tasks to hours.
Here’s the thing. I don’t need a record of yesterday’s time blocking. Sure, there’s a merit in assessing what I wanted to do versus what I actually did, but other than that, I’m not bothered by records of time blocks. Nor do I need time blocks to sync everywhere. I’m only time blocking to divide up “work time”. Sync and archive are the two things that analogue is not very good at - but as I don’t need those attributes, analogue works fine here.
In a planner or notebook, I can time block a day in less time than it takes me to enter one time block into a digital calendar.
Great! I need to buy a planner. (Honestly, my ability to spend money is prodigious!) There’s a lot to be said for an Economist diary, or a beautiful piece of aspirational nonsense from Smythson. I can sit at a grand walnut desk (Need to buy one of those too) and pensively uncap a Montblanc Limited Edition with a double broad nib, and deliberately time block my day. Unless it’s a golf day. Then I’ll get to the office around 2, and squeeze in bits and pieces of work around a swim, shower, maybe even a nap. Whenever I have one of those gorgeous planners or diaries, I find myself at my white Ikea composite desk on a Tuesday, filling in the previous Monday, so as not to “waste it”.
The truth is, I need a blank notebook (or at a stretch, an Analog card). At the top of the page, I write the day and date. I might even write a quick gratitude line (good for the soul). Then, I jot down the hours of the day, and add any calendar events. I’ll take a look at Things, and workout what needs doing. I’ll write on the page THE priority. Then, I’ll put that it into my DIY planner section, usually as my first task. Then, if there are empty slots, I’ll start dropping in a few more tasks and bits and pieces.
Throughout the day, I’ll jot notes on the page. Then, I’ll go have dinner with my wife. If I’m not in the office next day, no worries. The blank page makes no demands.
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