If the last few years have taught me anything, having a full-time job, a significant other, a household, a life, and maybe 5 side jobs means trying to slice down your time in the most accurate way possible. Unfortunately, while I’m organized to a POINT I am also a tornado. I whirl around and create and destroy things and then I’m the clean up crew afterwards. Also being prone to ideas (which need to be ACTED ON OH GOSH RIGHT NOW BECAUSE THEY ARE GREAT) means being in the midst of a lot of projects all at once!
I’ve spent a good deal working with calendars, weekly planners, and trying to make things as fun as possible, but I inevitably toss the planners and calendars by the wayside because my life is often very unpredictable—plotting out time, unless it’s habitual/work/food, is very hard for me.
The only two things I’ve really felt have worked for me are simple, colorful, and fun for me.
Option 1: Calendars & Stickers & Pretty Colors (for I am very goal-oriented and need to see visual results)
But things aren’t always visible, are they? Especially if you’re stuck in a project for a very long time. It can be daunting to keep track of progress, how much time you’ve utilized, how much time you have left over. If you’re working on a book, maybe a word count is a good indicator of how much you’ve worked, but what about editing? Reading? All of that time means something.
Okay, do you think I’m crazy yet? No? I’m about to prove it.
An author I’ve featured on this blog before, Victoria Scwab, has a method she’s shared, and it involves calendars and stickers. You can read her post here.
Essentially, you have a monthy calendar, you have a stack of stickers, you put a sticker down for each time you accomplish whatever goal it is you're trying to work towards. A star can be an indicator of how many words you've written (1 star = 500 words) etc, but if you aren't writing, you can translate it in a way that fits you best.
I’ve taken it a step further, though, and have expanded my own to five calendars.
“Five?” you ask.
- One for Reading (how many nights did I get a chance to read)
- Food budget (what days did I eat at home?)
- Comic work (social media, planning, coloring pages, script editing)
- Writing/Editing (how many words did I write, how much did I edit?)
- Social Media (something I’m not sure I really need, but running multiple accounts for different projects can be difficult, so it’s good to see where I need to do more work)
The best thing—or worst—is the end of the month when I can tally up all the stars and see how productive I was. It’s interesting. More like seeing what I did in the past to see where I need to get to in the future.
Option 2: GAME YOUR LIFE (for I need to be entertained and possibly, actually level up in life)
My friend Lauren, at Honey Bee Manor, is an excellent and organized fellow writer. She pretty much keeps the busiest of lives organized, and when I asked her for tips for my own, she shared with me a website that I’ve grown to love/loathe. It’s a website/app called Habit RPG. It’s been around for a while, so far as I can see, but it’s definitely helped me through some tough times.
If you ever wanted to gain experience for remembering to flush a toilet or spend points you’ve earned taking out the trash on cool pixel swords, this is seriously the thing for you.
I have to admit I haven’t used it much in the last couple of weeks.
But for good reason—some things have actually become habits.
I clean the bathroom every Saturday, go grocery shopping every Sunday morning.
Crazy right? Actual habits!
I’ve found (as indicated by the red to-do list) that it’s less effective for me for finishing projects that require days/weeks/months to finish because inevitably they turn red and then I’m just discouraged. I’ve tried breaking it down into smaller, planned steps, but it’s tough. Being a tornado and all.
Option 3 (untested): Time travel (for cool people)
While the first two are things I’ve actively been using to manage my time/track my life, I feel like a better option is to forget planning every second of the day and just make MORE time. I’ve invested in multiple time turners and have blueprints to build a TARDIS. I’m not entirely sure how it will all pan out, but I’ll definitely keep everyone posted once I’ve got this time-saving technique in play.
;) Anyhow, I hope that these techniques inspire you to add some color into your daily to-do, whether
it’s fancy pens, sparkly stickers, or just a game for life. Inversely, I hope this post is a reminder of how crazy I’ve let my life become, and maybe you should just throw away all the planners and calendars and jump in a car with a book and a food and head to wherever makes you the happiest.
Happy Monday, friends!