One of the things I’ve been working on since the year started is using a planner to keep track of my days. I’ll admit, during the first few days of the semester I was excited to use my planner to note every appointment down–and I did, to the point when I had booked myself for two weeks in advance. Then a lot of stuff happened, and between school, #romanceclass, and my personal life, I haven’t been able to plan things as well as I would’ve wanted to. As a result, my current planner is a little empty when it comes to the activity department.
Part of this comes from the fact that I don’t have it in my personality to plan; I’d already gotten through life procrastinating and cramming, and things hadn’t turned out too bad for me. But whenever I sit down and write things down on my planner, I find that I get more things done in advance that I end up crossing out tasks before their deadline. I could get into specifics from my personal life, but the truth of the matter is that, even with my best efforts to plan, I still end up slacking on most days. And on the days when I do pick up the slack, I feel so much relief that my brain goes straight to reward/relaxation mode without moving on to the next task.
But enough about that; let’s go back to my planning system.
I know a lot of people who swear by bullet journaling, but I find that using a generic planner is enough–that way I can get an idea of what goes on over the week without having to overload myself on what to do. Since I don’t plan my days by the hour, I just write down simple reminders (“pay rent”) or appointments (“study group at Starbucks”) that I can check out at a glance before I go on for the rest of the day. Sure, there are times when appointments get canceled–and it’s a bitch to cross them out, especially if I have to use the tiny spaces allotted for weekends–but for the most part I actually like seeing all these deadlines laid out before me so that I can block out some time to do those things. Also, since I’m a chronic worrier, seeing my deadlines in a planner gives me the opportunity to focus all of my worries on one point in time while keeping myself busy (and relaxed) with other things before that deadline.
Then there are the non-negotiables–things that I have to do, no matter what, because otherwise my days would be out of whack. My non-negotiable hours are between 8:00 and 11:00, which means I have to write during that time–and if I can’t write, I can do writerly things like editing and reading. It’s gotten to the point where I can’t spend that time not writing–like that one week after I finished my #romanceclass2017 manuscript, when I put it to rest before revising it again–and I have to find something to read or write if I don’t want my brain to turn into pudding.
One thing that has changed is that weekends are no longer non-negotiable for me, since there’s always a lot going on during those days. I used to block out entire Sundays for non-school work, but since I’ve started facing Monday deadlines in the last three semesters I’ve used my daytime hours during the weekends to deal with the things that can’t wait until later in the week. Blame my slacker tendencies for that–again, I’ve done a lot of cramming in my lifetime–but I’m hoping that, once things slow down again for school, I’ll be able to bring back my weekend play hours so I can work on my non-serious stuff again.
>But other than that, it’s really nice to have your entire week laid out before you, and I actually relax a little more whenever I’m able to fill in the gaps in my schedule. I just hope that, as the year rolls on, I can make a habit out of this so I can make the most out of my time.
How about you? Do you have a time management system to keep you organized? Let me know in the comments below, or tweet me (@TheStellaTorres) with your comments!