The desktop mind map that I started using New Year’s Day is a study of time. Not enough time. Wasted time. The value of my time. What am I going to do with my time? How much time does it take? How do I balance my time?
It’s interesting to find out, with certainty, that there’s a difference between the things I want done and the things I want to do. Or the things I would want to do if it weren’t for the road-blocks in my head.
By spreading it out on my desktop, without judgment either way, I’m able to see where my traffic jams are. You know the ones. Can’t do this until I’ve done that. And I can’t do that because I haven’t organized this other thing yet.
When that circular motion gets going in my mind, it’s really easy to turn it off by taking a side road until the next time it clamours for attention. Then repeat avoidance mechanism.
Looking at the same conversation in a mind map is not so easy to turn away from. The one rule I set for this experiment is that I have to spend at least half an hour on each goal before I can open up the whole wheel and start over again.
That means when I hit a road-block I have to deal with it. Even if all I do is sit here for my required 30 minutes and think about it; why I can’t do it, why I think I’m incapable of doing it, why I don’t really want to do it … there’s progress. Instead of wasting 30 minutes whining, chances are I’ll just open a folder or a project and have a look and something will begin to happen. It’s only half an hour. I can bear almost anything for half an hour. And the odds are, by the time I’ve looked at it for 5 minutes I’ll be well on my way.
There’s a difference between ‘don’t want to’ and ‘can’t’. Can’t is not nearly as big as we sometimes think it is.
After I’ve worked on one of my goals for half an hour or so, I give it a green tick so I can see where I am in the grand scheme of things. If I keep working for another hour or two I cheat the rest of the wheel. And if I let that happen there goes the balance in my life, right out the window.
Some of the items are long-term projects that could take several months to complete so my mind gets in ruts of wanting to make deals about how I can get through them quicker and shorten the tedium.
But the point is not racing through it all; the point is to enjoy the process and take a reality check about time. Nevertheless, about once a week my mind can’t stand another minute of having only ten goals to choose from and I go off the grid. It’s my game; I can change the rules. Then I get back on the wheel because it works.
I’ve also resurrected ATNotes; desktop post-its to catch thoughts racing by so they don’t interrupt what I’m in the middle of. The chaos of multi-tasking is one of the bugs cured by this system.
The wheel has changed a lot since January 1st. It expands, contracts and changes shape almost daily. I started with six goals. I now have ten. By Day 29, I realized that four of them have to be taken care of every day, no matter what.
One of them is managing email. It took me half an hour a day for 27 days to clear out my Inbox. I’m not re-creating that problem for myself ever again. I now tag time-sensitive email with dates so I can clearly see it.
The other side of the wheel is comprised of the other six goals. On an average smooth-functioning day I can go all the way around the mind map. And also have some dinging-around time. Sometimes it takes me more than a day to get through it all. It depends what life is dishing up on the side.
Right now my wheel isn’t much new, just a list of things I’m running behind on. I’d like to have huge chunks of it done by Spring.
From January 1st to Spring is 80 days. At half an hour a day per goal, that’s 40 hours each. Either I’m finding out that un-distracted slices are a lot of productive time or that I grossly under-estimate what I can do in 30 minutes. It depends on the project. Some are one way, some are the other. In any case, all the goals are being pushed along the road in tandem. It’s only Month One. And so far I like it.