I'm starting to exercise some control over my time. Help me make this work.
I have problems with attention, maintaining focus, procrastination, perfectionism, and so on. Considering I am a graduate student with other self-directed pursuits, you can see why this is an issue. I am in the process of getting formally checked out for ADHD, but I've started using a system that seems to help me get a reasonable amount done without changing underlying brain chemistry — and I'm hoping to get suggestions on how best to use this system.
Previous AskMe threads have
helped get me to this point, particularly the REBT approach linked in this comment
So far the system consists of a small notebook and a timer
. Either the night before or in the morning I will set the time during which I want to work on tasks that day, and list specific tasks with associated number of blocks of time (by default 15 minutes) to spend on them. These include recurrent and one-off tasks. I try to keep the total amount of time for these tasks realistic, e.g. not more than maybe half of the available time. The proportion of these blocks that is checked off is my measure of productivity. I also keep track of unlisted tasks I do, in that if I realize I'm about to do something, I will deem it a task and devote a block of time to it. Overtime for the assigned tasks also goes in this category. I use short blocks for generic internet, and record this too (more to keep me aware than anything else). As often suggested
, for all these tasks I start the timer when I start the block, and when it's down to zero or I'm done I am free to do anything else.
The barrier is low for starting to work on a task, but the limit to how many time blocks count is an incentive for not taking longer than needed.
So, hive mind, I'm looking for suggestions for how I can improve this approach and make it something I can stick with for the long term. What are good ways to keep track of what I should be assigning myself for the day? Should I automatically carry over undone tasks from one day to the next? What are good ways to record all this, e.g. what's an easy shorthand for 8, 15, and 30 minute blocks that can be crossed off when completed? Are there ways to minimize the times I neglect or put off starting to use this system for the day? Most importantly, how do I ensure that I own the system, instead of it becoming something I feel to be unpleasant and end up trying to avoid?