When planning, should we look at how much time is allotted for the day and try to fill it, or do we look at how many tasks we have planned and cap it at that?
This question was really brought home to me while I was working on the redesign of the Weekly Productivity Planner. I brainstormed and created an interesting and useful new block to go on the planner, and while I’m not showing it yet, the basic idea is that it gives you a quick idea of how much you’ve planned for yourself for the day.
I have previously said that we need to limit the amount of things that we’re trying to do, so you would be right if you think I’d say the answer to the question is to plan to task and don’t worry about the time. I still think the best way to go is to underplan and get some peace, but…
What do you do when you finish early? Few things are as liberating as getting freebies done. By freebies, I mean the things you got done even though you didn’t plan to or have to do them. Knowing that you’ve gotten more done than you had to is very addictive and powerful, but it also causes the time creep problem.
Time Creep: that dreaded situation in which you do “just one more thing” far after you should’ve stopped working. Just one more Stumble…just one more post to read…just one more paragraph or readthrough…just one more load of laundry…
Hours of our lives are spent doing “just one more thing” when there are more valuable things to be doing. Like spending time with our friends and families…reading that book you’ve wanted to read for years…exercising…learning to play the piano…you know, living and not working.
Balancing the tension between freebies and time creep is thus a two-part exercise in discipline. The first part is learning to adequately underplan, and the second is setting a time to stop working and walk away.
I hope to provide a solution that helps make balancing this tension easier – it’s a hard lesson to learn in the abstract.
Since I’m trying to create that solution for us rather than just for me, I’m curious as to what you think: would you find it more intuitive to manage your day (or week) by time, or by task? Designing, inquiring minds need to know!
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