How to Solve the Time Management Mystery

How to Solve the Time Management Mystery

I was chatting about the Time Management Mystery with some creative friends the other day.

Actually, we were whining about how we have so much to do, and not enough time to do it in. And speculating how some of the creatives we’re inspired by manage their time.

For the most part, all of us (men and women), have some kind of gig/freelance job working from home. Plus we’re responsible for the lion’s share of the housekeeping.

Naturally, we theorised our inspirations have wives or cleaners to take care of the domestic situation. And certainly many of the men who wrote or painted classics weren’t cleaning toilets or doing the laundry in-between times.

This was, of course, the situation that made me write Minimally Viable Housekeeping. When I am Stephen King famous, I will probably hire someone to do the housekeeping.

In the meantime, like everyone else, I have to try and figure it out as I go.

My Planning Cycle

I have an annual planning cycle. Or more correctly I have two because I business plan for the fiscal year, and personal plan the calendar year. So in practice, I have two six-monthly cycles because they leak into each other.

It kind of works like a spiral.

Long-term planning

It starts out with a 10-year plan, which is the Vision, Mission, Virtues I describe in Holistic Personal Finance. This is supplemented with long term reminders, like replacing the hot water system in 2026 and central heating in 2027.

Medium-term planning

Medium-term is the three to five plan. And the easiest way to describe that is comparing it to studying for my Bachelor’s degree part-time. With eight years permitted, I calculated the minimum number of units required each year to complete it in time.

Short-term planning

Short term is more or less your annual goals. For example, three university units, and which ones. And whether you wanted to add more for a stretch target.

Annual Planning

From here, I take a Project Management approach. I break the big goals into work packages and attempt to schedule them throughout the year.

Annual work can be split into quarterly or seasonal work. Which can be split into months, then into weeks, and into days. Even hours if you want or need to.

Daily Planning

For the days, I attempt an “Ideal Day” framework, as developed by Alec Mackenzie in the third edition of The Time Trap (3rd edition).

An Ideal Day is a perfect day. You take the best possible advantage of your high and low energy periods. You have uninterrupted time to get stuff done. And at the end of a productive day, you still have enough energy left for some high-quality leisure time.

Of course, you will never experience an Ideal Day but that’s not the point. The point is to have a kind of “here’s one I prepared earlier” to slide into your schedule.

Solving the Time Management Mystery

Planning is all very well, but you will always fail at time management. You can’t adequately predict how long a given task will take. You can make your best guess, but you already know that’s not going to work.

The way around this is two-fold:

  • Don’t plan more than you can realistically do.
  • Allow time for things to go wrong.

Still not perfect, but some days the best you can do is get out of bed.

Everything else is a bonus.

Photo of The Clock, Maroondah Lake, Healesville c. 1920 – 1954 by the Rose Stereograph Co. (Rose Postcard Collection) via State Library Victori

For more interesting and useful infomation, check out my housekeeping page.

Minimally Viable Housekeeping

When you’re busy, taking care of your home takes too much time and energy, leaving you tired and discontented at the end of the day.

Minimally Viable Housekeeping translates business effectiveness and efficiency techniques for the home. So you can spend more time doing the things that make life worth living.

Discover how to minimise the time and effort you spend on housekeeping. Buy now:

Minimally Viable Housekeeping

Just a little reminder, you can read other relevant posts on the Holistic Personal Finance page.

Holistic Personal Finance

Advice on managing wealth usually means sacrificing things that make life worthwhile.

Holistic Personal Finance shows you how to manage your money according to the life you want – you can enjoy lattes, lunches with friends, and a prosperous tomorrow.

Discover how to enjoy your life while saving for the future. Buy now:

Holistic Personal Finance

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