Ben Straub

Is the Schedule Working?

November 03, 2013

About a month ago, I posted about adding some structure to my workday. So it’s time to look back and ask “is this working?”

Writing Time

The design included both early mornings and evenings set aside for writing. Most of the impetus for this was a large writing project I was taking on, which then disappeared. Without that huge motivator, I found myself slipping, spending that time on email, or writing code.

This is silly, of course – acting as though there was nothing to write. I have plenty of ideas for content on this blog, I can submit magazine articles, and the libgit2 documentation will never be “finished”.

The trick, I think, is to not even consider other possibilities during those times. If the only thing you allow yourself to do is write, you’ll get writing done.

So that’s what I’ll do: confine my focus to writing during those times, and direct those energies towards the writing projects I do have.

Household Mornings

This part is a resounding success. Many of the months-old tasks that I had been avoiding got completely finished in the first week, and the backlog hasn’t returned.

This feels so good, it’s hard to explain. I love knowing that there aren’t gumption-sucking things hiding in my inbox. Those things were weighing me down, grabbing my focus at random times, and now they’re all gone.

What’s more, this has become deeply-ingrained habit, independent of being at home. Even when I’m travelling, it’s become instinct to clear out the inbox and do all the correspondence before doing anything else. This means the backlog isn’t nearly as large when I get home.

Focused Afternoons

This has been really good as well. Before, I could never count on having uninterrupted hours at any time during the day. Immersing in a big project was frustrating, because I could never finish in one stretch, so there was resistance to getting started.

Setting the expectation that afternoons are interruption-free has lifted this blockade. I know exactly when the next interruption will come (when it’s time to go get the kids), I can make rational decisions about how much work to take on. I’ve been a lot more productive with this system, and a lot happier, too.

So, is it working?

Most of the original goals are still valid, and the schedule is generic enough to allow for the comings and goings of big projects. I’ve been a lot happier and more productive, and I like to think this makes Becky’s life easier too.

So yeah. I think we’ll keep it.

Ben Straub lives and works in Portland building useful things. You should follow him on Twitter.