Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Playing with Time
In the crush of busyness last fall, I abandoned my color-coded time management system. As pressing deadlines presented themselves, survival became more important than balance.

Then, a month or so ago, I resurrected my colorful plan. I had fewer pressing deadlines, and I was feeling the need to restore balance. But the plan quickly fell away again when the new semester started and priorities asserted themselves, leaving no room for negotiations, color-coded or otherwise.

When my schedule begins to fill up, the danger is that more passive desires will be crushed to dust by the time-hogging bullies that have staked their temporal claim. That's the beauty of my color-coded plan. It helps me to make sure I'm not so single-minded in my focus that I forget all the other little projects I have planned to tackle.

Nothing like a little pressure.

This week, I'm on the "master list" plan. I've used this one before, too, only to abandon it when the master list becomes so depressingly long that I can't bear to look at it, let alone tackle it. I've considered marrying the master list to the color coding, checking things off in different colors to indicate the categories they belong to, but that seems to border on the obsessive. It does not, however, mean I've ruled this plan out.

Last night, in the writing class I'm facilitating, we discussed how both discipline and flexibility are necessary elements for writers. Without discipline, we fail to accomplish anything, and without flexibility, the weight of pressure and perfectionism can crush creativity.

My crazy plans help me to strike the same balance. I love new ideas, and all the possibilities that come with them. And just as I engage in an endless quest to perfect my prose, I engage in that same quest to find the Goldilocks idea -- the one that is just right -- the one that will provide the solution I've been looking for all along.

And so I play with plans and systems, much the same way as I play with words. And when I find something that works, I hang on to it, even if I sometimes need to set it aside when the timing isn't quite right. (Like when I've scheduled myself for more than 24 hours worth of activities on any given day).

Naturally organized, Type A friends shake their heads (and maybe even roll their eyes) at my ever-evolving lists and time management plans, but for me, they are the discipline that encircles my creative ideas, holding them in one place so they don't escape before I can get to them.

And if you've ever tried to lasso an elusive idea, you know just what I'm talking about.

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