43 Folders

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You cannot have productivity or time management without priorities

My problem is that I have too much Stuff TM that I want to do. I have tons of hobbies and I love to learn, be it by reading, watching documentaries, whatever. I also like to participate with various communities I am a part of. What I am coming to realize is that the main reason why I am not productive and cannot manage my time well is that I am scattered all over the place. And it's not like at work where I can go to my boss and say that I have time for four project out of these ten so choose six for me to work on. This is my personal life; my so called leisure time. Reading one book means missing one documentary which means not participating in some online game which means not working on one of my four or five hobby coding projects which means not playing one of my 25+ computer games, etc.

I spend my entire day always thinking about what I am not doing. And pulling a GTD and brain dumping will not solve my problems as there is absolutely no way I can get 10% done of the stuff I want to get done. The thought of giving up hobbies because I don't have the time for them is one I can't seem to bear. How does one go about choosing Anime over PC strategy games, yoga over tai chi, electronics over philosophy, or Everquest over World of Warcraft!!! Until I make a painful decision give up whole meaty chunks of my life I drive myself crazier trying to time manage it all and I will never be productive; even if in some cases productive means finishing a science fiction novel or a module of Neverwinter Nights.

stevecooper's picture

I'm trying to wean myself...

I'm trying to wean myself off the idea of priorities. A good book I read recently ('Get Everything Done and still have time to play', Mark Forster, ISBN 0-340-74620-3) talks about a bit of bad logic within the idea of priorities; he suggests that, since time is pretty much constant, since you only get 168 hours in a week and 52 weeks in a year, you can't make more time by shifting priorities.

Realistically, you've got your waking hours to devote to things, right? That's around 110 hours per week. Either the stuff you intend to do this week is less than 110 hours, or it's more. If it's less, you don't need to prioritise since you've got enough time to do it all. If it's more that 110 hours, there's no way you can do it all, so the things you make 'low priority' are, in fact, never going to get done. You might as well admit that these things aren't that important, jettison them, and get yourself under the 110 hour limit.

Roughly, prioritising is a bad direction. What you have to do is make choices about how much time you're going to devote to different activities. It's a good exercise to write down all the draws on your time, then put against each the amount of time you'd like to spend per week. Shuffle those numbers around until you're happy and within the 110 hours you actually have. If you can't get enough time on each thing, then you must, must jettison stuff.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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