I read an article today that I think might be helpful enough to digress from standing desks and momentum to time management.

I read this article today in The Guardian (am I the most stereotypical prof or what? For the record, I also wear hipster glasses and hang out in craft breweries). The advice here is from Julie Morganstern, one of the OGs of organization. Meggin McIntosh has done a nice job of translating the principles into ones that are do-able for academics. 

Why do I read these things and pass them on to you?  You probably have this idea that I have a perfectly organized office, no chaos, and that I’m smiling and organized all the time.  Nope.  I’m working the programs just like you are.  I find when I use these strategies, they help, and when I don’t, well, I’m a mess.  Progress, not perfection, right? 

So what are some of the takeaways I got from the article? 

  • Disorganization takes precious time and resources from you – time you could be spending somewhere else
  • Put things in the most efficient places – for example, keys in a basket by the door (which, for the record, I already do, just not neatly)
  • You have to know what you have to declutter. Oy, yes.  Raise your hand if you have seven million tote bags, post-its, and pens from places you will never work? Conference swag and attendee name tags?  Tee shirts with nerdy phrases that sounded fun when you were with fellow nerds?  (Anyone still have a “f**k mentalism” tee from the late 90s ABA conferences, before the I was added)?
  • Sometimes you have to schedule time to do nothing.  Having some time to just hang out is a form of self-care. Don’t schedule your life so tightly.

That last one, and the idea of “buckets,” were game-changers for me.  Buckets are clustering similar work into one time frame, based upon your natural energy patterns.  I’m not talking how you align your chakras; what I mean is your natural patterns of productivity.  For example, late morning to early evening are my most productive times. I tend to be what we call in my house a “second shift” person.

By working with your natural patterns, the probability of success goes up. All of my other attempts at time management consisted of filling every waking hour with productivity.  Up at 5:30 and go until 9pm.  These changes rarely lasted more than a week.  Now, I have time for things I would have railed at before, and I don’t feel as pressured.

Am I perfect?  Nope.  As I said earlier, I’m “face down in the arena” just like everyone else.  But good enough is better than perfect, because often perfect never happens.  That’ll be a post for a later time. 

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