How I manage my time

Usually, I’m the type of person who can remember all the tasks she has to do by when without having to write them down. I have a list of homework and when they are due in my weekly planner which I refer to once in a while, just in case, but it’s usually not necessary.

Lately, however, this ever-growing to do list has got to the point where I can’t process it all anymore, and I’ve started to plan my weeks out using a weekly planner template taken from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Sean Covey, and put together by Ammon, the owner of the blog I originally found the PDF on.

7 Habits Weekly Planner image

Those of you who’ve read The 7 Habits will be familiar with this layout, but in case you aren’t, here is how I use it:

1. Identify your roles in life

Typical roles include one’s role as a spouse, parent, student, worker, etc. My roles are those of a daughter, sister, friend, student, employee, and Speakeasy team leader. Depending on the week, I fill out these roles a little differently: this week, for example, each of my classes gets its own arrow, I am a team leader, and I have an arrow for myself.

I like to colour code each of my roles to make it easier to see across the page, as well.

2. Identify the weekly goals you want to achieve for each role

Break down what you want to achieve in each aspect or role of your life. For example, this week my chart looks like this:

Myself: piano, art, blog, write, EndNotes conference (?)

CRWR: get notes for missed classes, study for quiz

Thesis: reread forage, analyse 1-2 poems, update supervisor, email second reader

FNLG: write script, translate script, memorise

FNSP: readings, journal entry, research paper sources

TL: get materials for year-end event, do budget before April 5

When I’m done with my list, I like to number each of them off to make it easier for the next step.

3. Fill out each of these goals across the week for when you want to do them

Decide when you need to do each of these goals. I like to put these in both ‘Today’s Priorities’ and at the exact time I want to do them, if possible, e.g. my priority tomorrow is to complete my journal entry for my FNSP class and I want to do that at 4 pm, after I finish work and pick up some materials for the year-end event.

I also fill out other things across my ‘Appointments/Commitments’ timetable that aren’t necessarily in my goals list in terms of my different roles, but which I need or want to do for one reason or another, such as laundry, groceries, cleaning the bathroom, etc.

The evening/notes section is usually full of reminders to myself of things I need to do at some point, e.g. pick up newspaper to clean bathroom mirror.

What’s this ‘Sharpen the Saw’ business?

Sharpen the Saw is a reference to Habit 7 of The 7 Habits (which I do recommend reading for its many useful and important ideas, not least on time management and interpersonal communication), which is about taking the time to maintain one’s physical, mental, spiritual and social/emotional well-being in order to be at your best.

To be honest, I’m not filling this section out at all at the moment. A need to engage in more self-care? Probably, but I am also at my limit this week in terms of what I can do for myself while completing everything else I have to do… so while it’s not ideal, self-care is taking a bit of a backseat again this week. But it’s okay, I tell myself, just one more week of pulling through and I’ll be able to breathe a little more next Sunday.

Just a little more.

In terms of how well this works for me

I’ll be honest, I didn’t finish everything I wrote down for last week, and there were days when I didn’t do what I needed to do and had to catch up other days in other ways (read: less sleep). But I did manage to complete three quarters of what I originally set out, which is more than I would probably have achieved had I not written it all out. So that’s something.

My biggest problem with this method is that I end up feeling very stressed at the beginning of each week as I look in despair at the schedule I’ve made for myself and calming down as I slog through the days — which may not be so much an issue with time management as it is with my stress management.

Regardless, I’d like to hear how other people manage their time, should there be something better suited to me floating around out there.

And now I am off to lose more sleep. It is sad when you can’t even catch up on sleep over the weekend.

On an unrelated note, I’m reading Mary Oliver’s ‘Wild Geese’ over and over again. It’s my mental breathing space.

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