The goal of time management is to implement a set of tools and practices that let you achieve you’re life goals. That said, we are all different, a mosaic of strengths and weaknesses that makes a “one-size fits all” approach downright loony.
This is why posts like this one from Fumbling towards Geekdom are so valuable. It reviews the productivity tools that worked in 2006 for this academic with a parrot fixation. A short summary:
- How to become an early riser–Imagine what one hour added to your day would add to your life. That’s about two days worth wakefulness a month. Yow. If your body can handle it, give it a try.
- Fooling yourself into good habits by convincing yourself its only temporary–Robert Trivers, the latest recipient of the Crafoord prize, once gave a lecture to my fellow graduate students at the University of Arizona explaining how self-deception was frequently adaptive. Isn’t that why they call it self-denial?
- Doing the hardest thing, the most important thing, the one least likely to get done, the very first thing in the morning. This one tops my personal list of things to try out, but with one caveat. As a caffeine addict, I will still cruise the web over morning coffee to find the little nuggets (some would say bupkis) that make this blog what it is. It is, after all, my duty.
- Getting things done. The system of the same name, not the actual practice. GTD requires a degree of slavishness which isn’t everybody’s cup ‘o joe. On the other hand, even without zombie-like servitude there are a number of hacks that can work regardless of whether you drink the whole pitcher of kool-aid.
- Writing binges–the practice of carving out large blocks of time to write, as attractive as it sounds, doesn’t work for me. If I promise myself I’ll write all day Friday, I wind up wasting a big chunk of Friday luxuriating in all that free time. Instead, Ann Lamott’s Bird by Bird approach (300 words a day, shitty first drafts) works best. This keeps the manuscript forever on my brain and is good practice in the art of ramping up to work at maximum capacity on short notice. The most productive scholars are those that write every day.