Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Time and task management for Me

Over the last few days I have been thinking about why I am (usually) the epitome of productivity at work and (usually) not so hot at home and why sometimes I feel like my life is drifting away from me. It struck me that, at work, I generally have few projects or goals that are mine – despite my experience and qualifications, the dictator my boss doesn’t really let me (or anyone else for that matter) get on with things. He doesn’t take advice (however talented or experienced the author of it) and it’s his way or not at all. Consequently, most of the time, I am just chunking my way through a task-list without a huge deal of creativity or control.

I hasten to say, it wasn’t always like this. Previous bosses have recognised and cherished the wealth of experience of their workforce and allowed them to run projects themselves, and have taken onboard suggestions and embraced new ideas. In those halcyon days my home productivity was also a lot better.
What I have realised, is that the stifling of any independent thought or creativity at work has had huge, damaging effects on my productivity and creativity at home. I am looking for a task-list to chunk my way through and of course, unless I create one, there is just a yawning void there.

I went part-time a couple of years ago because the way work was going was suffocating me but I didn’t (and still don’t) know what else to do. The idea was to have space and time to be ‘me’ but then, two years on, I realised that I didn’t know what that person looked like any more.

So, I sat down and thought about what I wanted to achieve in my life.

It has been such a long time since I did this, that I ended up staring at the paper for aeons, trying to work out what to write. All I was wanting to do was to put down some 6-month goals to try and kick-start my productivity and give myself a bit of direction. Only then did I realise that work has been sucking the life out of me to such an extent that I didn’t know how to even start on such a goal-list. What did I want to do with my time? With my life? With my talents? What dreams did I have?

I almost resorted to the sand-timers (another post on these to come!) but eventually, things started flowing and I came up with a mind-map plan of some key areas that I could then start to break down into monthly goals, weekly goals and daily tasks. I know I’m good at working through a daily task-list; I used to be good at long-term goals and planning.

Hell, I need a new job. I had not realised how much it was draining out all the bits that make me me. I seem to be left with an organised automaton who sure as heck isn’t paid to think!

Eventually, yesterday became a very positive day and I spent a happy afternoon creating my goal-list and then setting up my cheery pink baroque filofax with my lists. Because I am quite a visual person, I have also colour-coded it all, so that I can see at a glance how much time I am spending on each key area in a day/week.
I don’t (as yet) have a ‘Someday/Maybe’ list – all my key areas are real and need managing. I found it hard enough to get those down on paper; I think freeing my mind enough to think blue-skies kind of thoughts will take a bit of time.

It’s been eye-opening in some ways. I knew I wasn’t happy at work… I hadn’t realised quite how undermining and detrimental the repressive atmosphere at work had become.

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