Cutting The Crap: How to Make the Most of Your Time
TODAY’S BREW: Mocha mint something or other that smells like a goddamn Thin Mint and makes me cry with joy.
For 10 years I was a panty peddler. One of my jobs as Upper Tier Panty Peddler was my weekly office day. Monday. And holy Christ, you cannot imagine how much there is to do behind the scenes of panty peddling. My office day started at 8 and ended around 6 or 7 with nary a meal or break to be seen, and work still to be done. What it makes me do is assess my time in a very clinical manner. Let me tell you how, because anybody can do this for whatever your form of panty peddling is. These days, it’s going to work for my writing, blogging, and doing developmental editing for cash.
(YEAH, BY THE WAY, THAT’S A THING. I NOW WILL EDIT YOUR BOOK FOR YOU. YEP. UNDEADITING. Details to come.)
What I did to get my office days under control was this. Open up the notebook. Write down every goddamn thing you do all day. Better yet, get index cards, title them with the the stuff you spend your time on. TWITTER, WRITING NEW WORDS, EDITING, WATCHING TV, PLAYING WITH KIDS, READING, PLAYING GAMES, TEXTING, etc…. and you’ll see quickly which cards fill up the fastest and which are left completely blank.
As Chief Panty Peddler, my notebook would look something like this:
8:00-8:15 supposed to be management meeting but is actually me watching co-workers wake up.
8:15-9:30 management meeting which is actually me talking for sooooooo looooooooong
9:30 starts the schedule! I OPENED THE SCHEDULE!
9:45 takes first phone call from another manager who hates office days
10:00 makes sure doors are open even though I’m in sweatpants and it’s not my job today and the only way I can make sure it’s not my job that day is by wearing inappropriate sweatpants but I do it anyway.
10:10 still on salesfloor dicking around with numbers
10:15 needs the coffee
10:20 YEAH, OPENS THE SCHEDULE! WOOOHOOOO!
10:22 takes phone call
10:30 tells all the incoming employees how happy I am to see them. Listens to sob stories forever.
10:45 OPENS THE SCHEDULE
11:15 Is proud of self for a half an hour of work that I’m supposed to do. Answers shipment door. DEALS WITH SHIPMENT FOREVER.
12:00 MOTHERFUCKING CONFERENCE CALL.
12:05 does 10 incline pushups in tiny office to stay awake during conference call
12:30 speaks on conference call like I haven’t been texting another manager about how bad this conference call is.
1:00 says “fuck this” and opens schedule again
1:15 gets phone call from another manager about how bad that conference call was
1:20 gets phone call from boss asking how bad that conference call was.
You get the idea. It was actually a lot more in depth than this, and I realized how scattered my days were, how much time I really spent in bits and pieces doing things that didn’t work toward my goal, and I realized that some things had to go entirely.
These days, it’s going to look a lot more like how many minutes I actually spend on Twitter. Right down to the minute. Who I’m talking to. How many minutes I spend making meals, getting snacks, getting drinks for growing boys. How much writing I’m doing as opposed to re-reading. How many times I check e-mail, text, take phone calls. What time I stop writing my book and start Editing For Cash. How much time I spend planning side projects, doing interviews, writing guest posts.
Because working at home, man alive do your days get away from you. It’s noon and showering is nowhere on the horizon. You have not worn actual pants in several days. You have made 6 meals but not eaten one. You’ve given probably 2 hours worth of unpaid for advice while taking away from the work you’re doing. You may be answering one line emails all day, but when you record the minutes that you do so, what that does to your concentration, and how many times you say after, “now’s a good time to make a cup of coffee” I bet you’ll find that those emails add up to about 4 hours in a day, and your book is getting only 2 strong hours of attention. And by you, I mean me. But you’ll have something like this, too. You may find that you’re spending 4 hours on email and Twitter, and 3 hours playing with your kids. Or no hours playing with your kids.
So, I tell you guys. Give this plan a try. I haven’t done it since I eneded my career as Panty Peddler, and look forward to getting a grasp of my day doing it now, so I can give all the attention to the things that matter most. This is where being militant works out. Because in a week when you do this little time log again, you’ll be able to see the changes you made, how much more focused you are, and how much YOU GET DONE.
Inspirational/militant speech over. Now get to work.