Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Kickin' It Old School

Anyone with a mood cycling condition can tell you that concentration is an issue, especially in a hypomanic phase. It's shiny object syndrome at its worst. You get tons of great ideas and if you're lucky you write them all down, but then you have so much to do that you don't know where to start. So you don't. Instead, you get anxious. Maybe you go on Facebook and think that if you just play for a few minutes that your brain will settle down and you can start one of these tasks. It might work, but it might not. It leaves you with a lot of great ideas and nothing to show for them. When you finally get started, the alarm on your calendar or task list goes off to remind you of some impending appointment or "must do" and there goes your concentration. Or alternatively, if it's not an imminent task, you click "remind me later".... indefinitely.

I love technology, don't get me wrong, but I'm a visual, tactile person. I need to experience things. I make lists. Lots of them. On my computer, in a notebook, on sticky notes on my computer, on the white board on my fridge, in my head. The obvious issue with this is that I have 100 notes in seemingly as many places, and once again I'm overwhelmed. Why don't I put them all on the computer? Well first, I hate to have my calendar clogged with items like "check the mail". Really, I shouldn't need a note for this, but indeed I do. I want to look at my calendar and see the important items - client meeting, doctor appointment, best friend's birthday (ok I know this one by heart but still, it's on there). I make lists on a to-do app, but again, there's that issue with the "remind me later". And then it's not factored into my actual day. I need to see it laid out, with all the other things I have going on in my day, in order to establish a productive rhythm.

So yesterday, I went to CVS and bought a day planner. Yep, you heard (read) me right, a good old-fashioned day planner like I carried in high school.  Then I wrote down every project I had and broke them down into tasks. I looked at the entire week in my day planner, and day by day, hour by hour, I scheduled tasks. Every day from 9 AM to 9:30 AM is email check. This way I can adjust tasks for the day early on if something comes up in my inbox that needs immediate attention. I built in several 15 minute breaks for the day and 45 minutes to an hour for lunch depending on the day. It doesn't take me an hour to eat, but it gives me time to take my dog out, check my social media for personal purposes, and provides some wiggle room if a task really must extend it's allotted time. I also am building in "flex time" (I forgot to do this in the initial plan and need to adjust). If a new client contacts me, a new project comes up, or I just mis-judged the time certain tasks needed, I can use this flex time.

So far, I'm loving it! I feel so, so much more productive. Now when people ask me what I'm up to that day, I actually can tell them!  I can track tasks and see how much time I spend on various aspects of my day. It also limits my email and social media addiction, since time for that is scheduled in, and eliminates coffee-break procrastination (don't worry coffee breaks are scheduled too!). It's keeping me on track with tasks and I feel fulfilled and productive.

If you're having some concentration troubles, I highly suggest kickin' it old-school, day planner style. Have you discovered other tricks to help with this? I'd love to hear!

No comments:

Post a Comment