One final way to get more knitting time: make your to-do lists really work for you with two more time management techniques
As I mentioned before, one of my biggest obstacles in finding time to knit is my time management. In the past, it’s been horrible.
My first issue has been my tendency to multi-task. This has led to nearly constant distraction and a real difficulty in focusing on my important tasks.
Now, let’s talk about my second time management issue, and two techniques that can combat such an issue…
The Second Big Time Management Issue I’ve Faced: Keeping Everything in My Brain
In addition to being impatient (as described in the last post), I’m also quite lazy.
Do I know what needs to be done each day? Mostly. Usually. Sometimes.
I would know what needed to be done every day if I actually took a few minutes to write to-do lists. But more often than not, I didn’t bother, because that would take time and effort. Instead, I often kept vague to-do lists in my head and built my day off those.
This probably worked decently enough when I was in high school or in college. But I’m now 42 years old and have two children. That just doesn’t cut it anymore.
It’s little wonder that I so often forgot things I should do!
As I mentioned in the last post, I’ve gotten much better since I started tackling my time management issues. And I’ve found myself doing much more knitting now that I’m not wasting my time as much!
Now, let’s take a look at two more highly-regarded time management techniques. Both of these techniques are ways to revolutionize your to-do list-making process.
Ideas for Time Management: Time Blocking
Time blocking actually can work really well with GTD (as well as Pomodoro). This is a way to make sure that you are able to accomplish your daily to-do lists.
So what is time blocking? It’s exactly what it sounds like: you’ll assign specific blocks of time to specific tasks on your to-do list. This is one way that you can ensure what you need or want to do can actually get done.
The benefit of time blocking is obvious. By assigning tasks actual blocks of time, you can avoid the temptation to procrastinate or waste time on TV or social media or e-mail. You can even schedule breaks (there’s the opportunity to knit again!).
Full disclosure: I’ve tried time blocking and it didn’t work for me. I’m not sure if it didn’t help me to avoid distractions at all, or if I’m just really bad at judging how long it will take me to do something. Probably a little bit of both. But I know a lot of people swear by it.
If you think this is a technique you might find useful, or if you just want to learn more about it, I highly suggest this MakeUseOf blog post. This post has one of the most comprehensive explanations of time blocking that I’ve seen. It even made me think I might want to give this technique another try!
In fact, researchers at another website decided to test how much time this productivity method (plus others) can really save. Check out their post to see just how much!
Ideas for Time Management: the Ivy Lee Method
I’ve saved what I believe is the simplest time management technique for last. Again, full disclosure: this is the method I use to make my to-do lists!
This method can actually be used with everything else I’ve mentioned thus far: Pomodoro, GTD, and even time blocking. It can be as simple as you want it to be, or just one cog in a bigger time management system.
I learned about this method from a wonderful DIY blogger named Lesley Clavijo, and I was blown away at how simple it was.
It’s named for a productivity expert named Ivy Lee, whom a wealthy businessman named Charles M. Schwab once hired to help his team’s efficiency. Schwab was so impressed with how Ivy Lee’s method improved his team’s productivity that he paid him $25,000 for his help. (This was in 1918 — today that check would be worth over $400,000!)
Here’s all you have to do: every day, make a list of your 5 most important tasks. (It’s best to do this the evening before, but I admit I frequently do it in the morning instead.)
The three most important parts of this method:
1) Make sure you limit your list to 5 or 6 at the very most. The number you use depends upon how many hours you have to work each day. I usually limit myself to 5, but occasionally I sneak in a 6th.
2) List them in order of importance. So whatever you absolutely must finish today, list that first. By the time you get to 4 and 5, you should be getting to tasks that it’ll be acceptable to move them to the next day if the first 3 tasks take longer than you expect.
3) Do not move on to the next task on the list until the one before it is complete. This helps eliminate the multi-tasking that so frequently trips us up.
Once you’ve finished your work day, move any incomplete tasks to the next day. You’ll repeat the process exactly the same way for the next day.
I love Lesley’s printable checklist that she put together especially for this method! She offers it in several different colors, and you can download it from her page describing the method.
You can see how you could use Pomodoro with this method, by breaking each item on your to-do lists into 25-minute work sessions and taking breaks throughout. You can also see how you could use it in conjunction with time-blocking — placing each of your 5 or 6 tasks into specific blocks of time.
And, of course, you can use this technique within the larger GTD process.
I hope this series has helped you find ways to get more knitting time into every day, as well as learn some time management techniques that can help in every part of your life. The great thing about investing effort into time management is that it can have a powerful effect on your entire life. Not just the part that knits!
Have you tried either of these (or any other) time management techniques? Is there anything else that has helped you create more knitting time? Please share!