I can tell you that last week was busy, I can tell you that various ‘to do’s’ were done because I have them on my wall calendar, and as they are done they get crossed out in bright pink highlighter. A majority of last week was finishing things that should have been done the week before and completing things I’d scheduled for that particular day.
week fortnight ago I gave myself a precious gift. I took half an hour (which turned into an hour) out of my day and I planned my workload for the next six months. I sat at a table with calendar pages and a pencil (not yet ready for pen) and I worked out what needed to happen and when. I can hear you scoff and shake your head, but the only way I could figure out what I needed to do that day was to schedule what I would be doing in six months time. I’m a bit of a planner you see. I recognise that I’m really unsettled and unmotivated when I don’t know what my plan is, be that a list of tasks for that day or a plan for a project three months down the line. If I could work every day (including weekends) with a strict set of targets and deadlines I’d be at peace, but there are telephone calls and emails and discussions in the office that deter you from your goal. There are meetings that take just that extra half hour longer than planned and there are completely unexpected one minute tasks that inevitably become much bigger.
Today I am writing the blog I scheduled in for last week. Today I have also typed up the reviews of Edinburgh Fringe from the middle of August, parcelled up a pile of brochures for a Spot On venue, read, dealt with and deleted 50 emails, had a 30 minute phone call with a very nice producer who’s trying to sell me a show and started work on the final bits of mailout magazine which compiles the articles from the previous two months into one PDF. What I notice is everything except the brochures and the phone call is done in retrospect. I’m spending a lot of time reacting to work as it comes in and ‘keeping up with things’ and less time being proactive and making things happen; so I plan. I plan for what I need to do in order to programme the Spot On Spring 2014 season and I set deadlines to work towards, I schedule meetings with the team so we can plan ahead for mailout content, somewhereto_ activity and who’s covering the office when we all decide to have a holiday in the same week! I even put notes in my calendar to remind the rest of the team of their deadlines for work (I especially like highlighting these as I get the reward without doing the work).
I can’t imagine not planning. I think this is completely normal but the realisation is dawning on me that this whole planning thing is actually a skill that not everyone has, so I thought I’d share my ability to manipulate time with you. So maybe, if you’re struggling to keep up with it all, you need to stop, breathe, take stock of what needs to be done, what needed to be done and how you might catch up on it all.