One to three, that’s all

One to three good pieces of work each day. That’s all I want to check off my list, and anything else is a bonus. On a day-by-day basis, this seems unambitious. Sometimes I wonder if I’m wasting this opportunity of an experiment – but I’m slowly feeling my way around, and it’s good to take my time.

This week’s accomplishments:

  • Monday: business planning, and a meeting with a potential client.
  • Tuesday: book sketchnotes, the book club, and halfway through putting together an e-book follow-up for my talk
  • Wednesday: lunch with another entrepreneur; coffee with Quantified Self organizers and brainstorming; ENT101 sketchnote; finishing the e-book
  • Thursday: digital sketchnoting podcast with Mike Rohde; on a personal note, survived another fitness class
  • Friday: first coworking session at ING Direct; more business planning; brainstormed business marketing with someone

I am so glad I stumbled across the power of writing and review. It’s much too easy to forget about where the time has gone, and to forget to celebrate the small wins.

While I waited for W- to finish his krav maga class, I mapped different emotions and the situations in which I feel them. The predominant emotion for this week has been a little hard to pin down. It’s not quite the thrill of developing code and closing tickets, or the happiness of having everything line up. It’s more amorphous. I think it’s more of a patient, deliberate preparation.

One thing at a time, one step in front of the other. If I accept this as the normal, it’ll probably be much better for me than assuming that normal is a whirlwind of activity.

Then I can hack this pace, bit by bit. I can experiment with breakfasts and other starts. I can write down more challenges and worries, and I can get better at working with other people to make things happen. I can figure out what my “treats” are – those small, productive tasks that give me a thrill – and sprinkle them through my week.

I’ve played with the “manic productivity” setting in life. Let’s see if I can get the hang of “steadily increasing strength.”

Visual book review: Cool Time: A Hands-on Plan for Managing Work and Balancing Time–Steve Prentice

It can be difficult to get work done in an environment filled with interruptions. Cool Time: A Hands-on Plan for Managing Work and Balancing Time (2005) offers many schedule-based tips on how to plan your day so that you have time to deal with interruptions as well as to focus on your real work. I like the emphasis it puts on managing people’s expectations and “conditioning” them to work with you better.

Here’s a sketchnote that summarizes the key points from the book. Click on the image to see a larger version.

20121230 Cool Time - A Hands-on Plan for Managing Work and Balancing Time - Steve Prentice

Cool Time is a good book for people who work in an office and use calendar systems a lot (or would like to make better use of their calendars). Even if you work on your own, you might find it useful to adopt the “I-beam review” involving 15 minutes of planning before you start your day and 15 minutes after for processing. If your life is even more interrupt-driven, David Allen’s bestselling Getting Things Done (2012) book is an excellent read focusing more on managing your to-dos.

Check out my other sketchnotes and visual book notes for more business- and technology-related visual summaries!

Developing a sense of time with Tasker alerts on my Android phone

I wanted to get a better sense of time, so I configured my phone to vibrate every half-hour in a short pattern of two quick bursts. That way, I can feel time passing, and I can distinguish these vibrations from message alerts. I used the following Tasker script:

Profile: Buzz time (13)
Time: From 08:00 every 30m Till 22:00
Enter: Anon (14)
A1: Vibrate Pattern [ Pattern:0,100,100,100 ]

After the quick buzz, I usually glance at the clock to confirm the time. It’s a handy way to remember that time is passing and that I should make the most of it. It’s not a big distraction. I can still stay in flow when I’m coding or writing. If I find myself wandering, I can bring myself back.

I don’t remember whose blog post started me down this path of making time a sense, but that was a good idea. (If you recognize yourself, please comment!)