a time for everything, and everything in its time

I think TIME will end up a key part of my habit-forming equation. It’s certainly been fascinating me lately.

I found Charlie Gilkey’s blog Productive Flourishing in May—he’s all about mindfully, intentionally deploying one’s time so that you’re doing the things that you want to do, plan to do, think are important during your . To that end, he makes planner pages—handsomely laid-out PDFs with lines and boxes, all of the size they’re supposed to be and no larger.

Now, I am all about the planner. My mom taught me to use day-planners to keep the chaos at bay… whether it’s because I’m an auditory learner, right-brained, or any of a number of other possibilities, I feel impending chaos pretty regularly. And when chaos looms, I freeze. (I couldn’t even clean my room without using a system she taught me, but that’s for another blog.)

BUT (big but!) the planner formats I was used to using—the classic Franklin, the Palm Day+, even LifeBalance—collapsed on themselves when I changed over to this life I have now.

In this life, I have:

  • other people’s appointments (lots)
  • my appointments (a few)
  • deliverables for work (two per week)
  • deliverables for volunteer responsibilities (one a week? a handful at time?)
  • house-making

in addition to any Great Work that I might decide to do.

Contrast this with my old day job, where there was a minimum physical presence requirement between 10am and 3pm. (Very flexible company, they are. I only had to be there because, as tech support, people liked to speak to a human and hand over the recalcitrant laptop.)

Day jobs make nice boxes around time. Without the boxes, time just mushes. And then the day is gone, and the Important Things are still lying around, untouched.

And scheduling blocks of time to belong to particular activities has not, after five years of attempts, worked out for me. It’s pointless granularity, and I have a lot of trouble with pointless.

SO back to Productive Flourishing. In his mix, he offers a Freelancer Workweek format. (He writes about it here.) This may be The One! In the left third of the page, it has boxes for scheduled events, active projects, deadlines, milestones. In the rest of the page, he lines out a Weekly Dashboard.

I look at the scheduled stuff, and how the blocks of time are falling out. I then go to each day and pop things into it. Thursday this week, I just crossed through it—I don’t have any blocks large enough to fit an action into. (Doctor day!) Or three weeks ago, I broke down the newsletter into segments, and fitted all the segments in so that I finished TWO DAYS EARLIER than usual. I had a real weekend for a change!

OK, I’m waxing lyrical—I really do love planners for the cozy feeling they give me. But how does it tie back into habitforming?

The habit requires a box of time.

As I better understand the shape of what I’m doing with my days—
as I draw more accurately the time-outlines of the pieces of my days—

I can better place the box holding the habit into the puzzle of my daily life.

That’s the hope, anyway.

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