Thursday, February 20, 2020

600 Days; new personal time paradigm

I'm 60% of the way toward my goal of 1,000 days of writing.

Popular posts from the last 100 days:
Thoroughly and uncompromisingly foreign
Safely onto land
A great love of measurement
For the Arab

Given the milestone, it's fitting to write about time today.

I've used a number of time tracking apps off and on over the years. The first one I used consistently was Eternity. I later switched to Now Then. It was simpler to start and stop. Reporting data out is a little harder, but it works. I still use Now Then for logging billable hours.

For general use, I've recently started using BlockyTime. It follows a principle I used when keeping up my own system of time management: only keeping time to the nearest 0.5 or 0.25 hours. Through it's difficult translation it earnestly tries to make the case that over time, things average out and more granular detail of time intervals is not needed. Based on my prior experience, I was already convinced the moment I saw how it operated.

It didn't take much time of using the free version to be sold on the paid version. It's another feature, however, that I really find compelling that sets this app apart from others.

A new perspective I formed recently on my time informs why I find this feature useful, so I need to explain that first.

After one of my more recent sessions of evaluating my desires, purpose, priorities, structure, progress, etc., I have decided on a new way to divide up my thinking about my time. I used to think in terms of consuming (email, Twitter, etc.) or producing (writing, coding, etc.). The consuming part fits. The producing part, not so much. It's too broad, vague, and limited in its usefulness to truly help break down what's needed to actually make progress.

I've decided on a new paradigm: maintaining or advancing. Is what I'm doing maintaining progress already attained (such as weekly digests), or am I advancing toward being able to do things better and do new things?

A Kindle book sample I was reading recently made mention of structure or agency (similar to nature vs. nurture). I find those ideas to be similar to my maintain-or-advance construct. Structure facilitates the pattern (maintenance) and agency is about having the freedom to make choices (and advance toward one's desires). We're not limited to either-or.

Maintenance works well with a predictable schedule. Advancing works well with unscheduled and uninterrupted time. The goal of advancing is to be able to move work on projects from the advancing category (where one turns ideas into reality) to the maintaining category (where one begins to reap the fruit of his previously hidden efforts).

The first two time apps I've used had space for top-level time use categories, and then offered options for subcategories. Early in using BlockyTime, I started using one of it's features to create subcategories. However, a couple things happened that told me this app could do much more: I used a few subcategories under more than one top-level category, and I started exploring features of the full version.

I soon realized what I was using as subcategories in this app weren't just subcategories, but a whole different layer of time tracking. That is, I could be tracking what I was doing with the top-level category (event types), and then the nature of that activity with the other type. BlockyTime calls these event objects. No longer is time tracking just about verbs; now it's about purpose!

Some of the “objects” I have repeated under more than one category type are Advance, Maintain, Reading, and Email. Now, I can look at my time in a whole different way to see if I'm really making progress on projects, or what else is taking up my time instead.

I already learned something new from the data reporting. Earlier I described maintaining time as being on a schedule and advancing time as better unscheduled. The reality is they actually go together. Maintenance tends to make time for advancing.

That's all for now. This is just the beginning, and Lord willing, there will be more to come later.

Tim
15,600 days

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You don't launch a popular blog,
you build one.
Seth Godin