3 Time problem areas and how to handle them
In her recent TAA webinar, “Creative Scheduling For Those Who Have ‘All of the Time in the World’ and ‘No Time At All’”, Katy Peplin identified three areas that commonly result in time problems: focus blocks, priority blocks, and scheduling blocks. If you’re having difficulty managing your time, chances are you’re dealing with one or more of these blocks. But there’s good news. Peplin also shared specific actions that you can take to overcome each of these three blocks.
Focus blocks are the writing blocks caused by distractions or lack of focus. According to Peplin, you set out with a plan to write, and a schedule to do so, but “despite setting aside time for writing, you simply can’t focus on the task at hand.” Instead you succumb to distractions, browse the Internet, or otherwise fall into procrastination traps.
These could be caused by any number of environmental elements, like technology, background noise, coworkers, family, or friends. This could also include internal thoughts about what else you could be doing or what needs to be done later in the day or week. Any conflicting demands for your attention can shift your focus away from the task at hand.
According to Peplin, to fix focus block issues, you need to “match your brain resources with your time resources.” Giving complete attention to your writing efforts without engaging in additional research, project planning, or other activities will help you maintain focus and achieve success.
To best accomplish this, identify the times of day where you can be most productive and plan your writing time for those hours, saving the laundry and other tasks for less productive times of the day.
Priority blocks are the writing blocks caused by working on “other things that need to be done” but are not the priority – for example, laundry, paying bills, doing your taxes, etc. In each of these cases, the priority is shifted from your writing to something else on your to-do list.
This results in a “mismatch between how you are spending your time and the importance or urgency of those tasks.” According to Peplin, to fix priority block issues, “figure out what is most important for Right Now You and also Future You.”
Ask yourself which task is important beyond the moment. You get to choose how you spend your time and there will be opportunity for the lower priority tasks to be done later.
Peplin calls scheduling blocks, “any time that you have the time to do something, but not the resources.” She says this is common with people working multiple jobs, or with parenting responsibilities, who sometimes find themselves with fifteen minutes (or even a couple of hours) where their schedule allows time to work on their writing, but they don’t have the materials (physical resources or mental capacity) readily available when the time presents itself.
According to Peplin, to fix scheduling block issues, “build the container that gets you what you need, where and when you need it.”
Peplin suggests using digital systems for notetaking and writing to make sure that your project resources are available whenever and wherever the time presents itself in the schedule.