Gail Gauthier: Time Management Tuesday: Drifting
From: Original Content
October 16, 2012 at 10:41AM
Writing every day is not something I’m able to manage, and I know that weekends are almost always going to be a dead period for me as far as actually writing is concerned. I do try to get some professional reading done then, even if it’s just catching up with blogs. This past weekend I started reading The Procrastinator’s Handbook: Mastering the Art of Doing it Now by Rita Emmett.
I’m not sure how procrastination fits in with what I call Situational Time Management, constantly planning so you can find work time in changing life situations. A lot of what I talk about on Time Management Tuesdays is facing the fact that we often truly have more tasks to do than we can complete in the time available. There comes a point where you can’t pretend that A, B, or C time management program is going to change the number of hours in a day or days in a week.
Procrastinating–putting off work for whatever reason–seems to be a different, though related, subject. I’m also wondering if what we’ve called procrastinating in the past isn’t now a catch-all term for other things, such as disorganization or buckling under the pressure of feeling overwhelmed by your workload. Internet addiction seems like something that should be tossed into the procrastination category because it certainly keeps people from working, but is it really procrastination or something else?
I’ll be giving all this a lot more thought as I read more of the book.
In the meantime, though, one thing Emmett talks about in her book that I think does relate to our subject is “drifting,” which she doesn’t give a hardcore definition but describes as “like being a ship without a destination.” Drifters might start several jobs without finishing any of them or “putter around without really doing anything.” “It usually occurs during unstructured time” and in occupations that are particularly unstructured. Writers and other people who work for themselves would fall into this category because we don’t have structure imposed on us by bosses, supervisors, and traditional work hours.
Emmett suggests finishing one task to start getting drifting under control. I’m going to suggest the unit system because it imposes structure upon us, and, as Emmett says, “You don’t usually find yourself drifting during a highly structured day.”
By the way, earlier in her book Emmett recommends using a timer. I’m seeing timers over and over again in my time management reading.
Watch Katie Couric interviewing Rita Emmett on procrastination.