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Karen Allendoerfer

Time management

September 26, 2007 at 10:36 AM

This probably sounds obvious to many of you out there, but it clearly wasn't to me. This week at work I started scheduling blocks of time in the day to work on different projects. I put these blocks of time on my google calendar and set alarms. I also got new software, called CompanionLink for Google calendar, so for the first time I can sync all my work calendars (there are 3) with my home calendar and Palm Handheld. And since Google calendar is web-based, I have access to it pretty much anywhere, anytime, even if I forget/lose my handheld.

This is helping me with time management for several reasons:
1. (And most important). It frees me from the "tyranny of choice." I would look at the to-do list and become paralyzed by the sheer volume of everything on it. I wouldn't be able to decide what to tackle first. I would then duck the whole thing and log onto Now I look at the calendar, see what I'm supposed to be doing, and put my thought energy into getting the task done instead of fretting about the length of the list.
2. It puts limits on distasteful tasks. Even if something is *really* boring, or *really* difficult, I can keep at it if I know I only have to do it for 15 more minutes.
3. I trust my system. Now that all my calendars are sync'd, I don't walk around with that nagging, sinking feeling that I'm going to forget something important and it's going to blow up.

It's kind of funny how my workday now resembles a practice session: an hour for this, 2 hours for that, lunch, half hour to prep for a meeting, have a meeting for an hour, half an hour to debrief from the meeting, etc. There is some freedom within the categories and also the opportunity to reward myself for finishing early within the alotted time.

Should have done this earlier, but better late than never . . .

It's not perfect, though, I would still like more time to schedule for exercise and practicing violin/viola.

From Terez Mertes
Posted on September 26, 2007 at 4:24 PM
> It frees me from the "tyranny of choice." I would look at the to-do list and become paralyzed by the sheer volume of everything on it. I wouldn't be able to decide what to tackle first. I would then duck the whole thing and log onto

Oh, LOVE it! : )

This is soooo me, as well. Some days, in an effort to calm myself down and get stuff done instead of panicking about all there is to do, I'll walk around with a timer in my hands and work within the limits I've set by setting the timer.

And you know what? I should have the timer in my hands right this minute, because I'm doing it again, I'm slipping... aaaaaugh!

From Albert Justice
Posted on September 27, 2007 at 4:28 AM
I just set priorities--and what didn't get done, didn't get done. But those priorities are pretty well grounded:
..did I have healthy food
..are my parents ok
..have I had rest
....did I practice at least 2-3 hours?
....did I check on others I support?
.......have I learned things beyond technique?
.......have I helped in the crisis going on in our region?
.......have I followed through on things for my future?

Same sort of thing for my gardens--they could work me terribly if I didn't just manage things.

I use lists and stuff more as a way to get said priorities into my brain, then keep it simple. (notepad is amazing)

When I was younger I had silly romantic ideals that I could keep record of everything--doesn't work for me.

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on September 27, 2007 at 2:13 PM
Al, One of the things about having a day job with a boss and coworkers is that there are a lot of competing priorities to be set. In broad outline I agree very much with the priorities of my workplace: to do great science, to share that science with others.

But lately I've been feeling like music can and should be more of a priority in my life. So I've been thinking about how to bring them together in other ways besides just playing for fun as a side hobby.

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on September 28, 2007 at 7:09 AM
I like setting time limits for yourself and especially sticking to them. I sometimes procrastinate and sometimes spend too long on something trying to be a perfectionist.
From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on September 28, 2007 at 11:15 AM
Yes, the perfectionist problem is something I see a lot . . . I don't think it applies to me, though. I'm a little frustrated right now with certain people whose priorities are different from mine. But it's part of my job to try to accomodate their priorities too. I used to work at the lab bench, but now I manage projects, which in practical terms means that I manage people too. Managing smart, creative scientists is, as they say, like herding cats.

I'm still working on how not to get thrown for a loop when other people swoop in and change the schedule and/or priorities at the last minute.

Hmm. I wonder if that's why I don't have a violin/viola teacher. I want some area of my life where I'm the one in control and I don't have to accomodate anybody else.

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