Recently I’ve been struggling with taking control of my life. Without wanting to bore you with the details I discovered that my time management skills are pretty well non-existent. The result is that I don’t seem to get anything done, I procrastinate about the things that I know I should be doing, and I’m making life pretty miserable for myself and those unfortunate enough to live too close to me.
The words “artistic struggle” spring to mind. But that isn’t really my problem at the moment (and I stress the at-the-momentness of this feeling). I am feeling fairly “creative”, but I am making a big mess of the rest of it: no sales outlets; a still-empty Etsy site; no blog entries; few photos; still haven’t discovered why my sidebar wants to hang out at the bottom of the page; blah etc, blah etc, blah etc.
A few days ago I came to the stark realisation that there were two alternatives: actually try and sell the stuff that I make or give up the idea of making a business of it and confess that it’s all just a hobby and stop harassing myself.
And whilst I’m very tempted by the latter option, I will stubbornly continue to insist that I can earn a living from this.
About 12 months ago I became captivated by David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD). At the time I applied parts of the methodology to parts of my life and it helped immensely. For example, now I have a usable and useful filing system (one where I can file stuff, and find it back again); we don’t forget things like dental appointments or to return our library books any more; I have discovered the joy of having neatly labelled boxes containing an amorphous mass of slightly connected stuff; little things like that.
Unfortunately since then the rest of my life has been unravelling.
Okay, as of yesterday, I am taking Control!
I am now GTD-ing my working life too. I installed OmniFocus yesterday and spent last night figuring out how to use it. We’ll see how valuable it ends up being.
I’ve also been reading some articles at 43 Folders, a site devoted to “ﬁnding the time and attention to do your best creative work”. The article that has really helped is Procrastination hack: ‘(10+2)*5’. The idea in a nutshell is to spend 10 minutes on one action of a (difficult) project, take a 2 minute break, then spend another 10 minutes on one action of the next project, and to repeat this 5 times in total. (Although project and action are GTD-ish type of terms I hope you get the gist.)
I modified it to three projects (blogging, marketing, mailing list) and am now busy with the third iteration. I started off religiously doing the 10 minutes work, 2 minutes play. After about 40 minutes I had actually made a start on three projects that I’ve been avoiding for months.
The second iteration was easier. And I ended up spending more time on my appointed tasks.
I am now busy with the third iteration of my blogging task. I allowed myself 20 minutes and have just extended it twice.
Voila! a blog entry!