Friday, September 9, 2011

Time Management for Creatives, Part 3

In today's post I will address the sixth suggestion in Mark McGuinness's ebook Time Management for Creative People: Get Things Off Your Mind.

In my house we have a funny little expression that came from a family friend (whom I believe borrowed it from one of the 12 Step programs out there), "You need something to put in your worry spot". It's a little joke between my Type A daughter and myself: she just doesn't feel right if she doesn't have something to stress over. The truth is, however, that the nagging worry (or worries) over forgetting something that you were supposed to do can be incredibly draining and no laughing matter. How can you give yourself over to creative flow when a portion of your mind is engaged in the negative emotion of worry?
Wherever you go, whatever you're doing, somewhere at the back of your mind you're wondering whether you've forgotten something vital that could blow up in your face at any moment. (p. 21)
Wouldn't it be so much more effective (and healthy!) to have a "mind like water"--a phrase that McGuinness borrows from David Allen's book Getting Things Done that evokes calm, still clarity.
In Getting Things Done, Allen continues with the water analogy by suggesting that you:
Set up 'buckets' to capture your commitments. Buckets are physical or virtual containers where you capture important information, demands and commitments so that they can't 'leak' away and be forgotten. (McGuinness, p. 22)
These buckets can be physical or virtual: a grouping of baskets to toss notes and lists into, files in your inbox, your voicemail, electronic notepad or list-making program...You should have enough "buckets" to break things down effectively, but not so many that they take over. The options are many and should suit your personal style.

There used to be a show on the Discovery Channel called Neat that I absolutely loved. It was one of those shows where the host (Hellen Buttigieg) would go into an insanely messy and disorganized home and help her guest of the week get organized. What set this show apart from the others was that Helen always took time to discover the guest's organizational style (i.e., a visual person often had piles out where they could see them) and she created a system to fit them. She would then go back after a few months to see if the system was still effective and in use, and 95% of the time it was because it worked for that person. If you have a variety of organizational tools idly stashed away or scattered around your home or studio, chances are you've tried things that don't suit your style. Don't give up! Do some research and find tools that work for you.

Once you've got your "buckets", ALL of your commitments should go into them. This means writing (or typing, or speaking) things down that you might not have before, and may seem cumbersome at first. But once it's in the bucket it can be out of your mind and free up that valuable brain space for other, better things.

So how do I know that these buckets won't just become a black hole into which I dump all my worries, but nothing ever gets done? Read tomorrow's post!

What tools have you tried that worked? Didn't work?

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