Decide and Organize

Standing desk specs in a notebook from last year.

After the morning routine, I decide and organize my day. This one is based on a Charles Soule newsletter on how he schedules activities. In the past, I’ve used his methods to create a framework for My Productivity. It’s like this:

1. Schedule the task: Plan how you’re going to spend your time. Assign projects to days and hit those targets. Typically I do this by setting up the task list in my journal, just as instructed by the Month Log in Bullet Journal. Usually, say, I want to write two chapters in a week, I schedule those chapters in the Month Leg to specific dates. 

2. Reschedule: Shit happens, man. Forgive yourself for over-extending yourself. The idea is to always know where you are in your work: what’s done, what needs doing, and the pace you’re setting and keeping. That last bit is important because usually, I’ll put the writing goal or task into Deep Work blocks. Then when I finish that task, I’ll total how long it took me (in hours) to complete that chapter. I don’t count words or pages, I count time spent on the goal because then that way I can accurately predict how long it will take me to complete a specific writing goal. 

3. Allow for subconscious work, or as Cal Newport says “productive meditation”: ask yourself a question when you’re not working. I usually do this while going for a run, exercising, or doing some chores around the house. Then let your mind work on it subconsciously. Then if I strike gold with it eventually, I’ll break it down in my scrapbook and add it to my work shutdown at the end of the day so I know where it is when I need it. 

4. Live: you need time away from the keyboard or notebook. You have to get some rest. Otherwise everything suffers. I stop thinking about work—if I can help it—after 5pm. That includes writing and job stuff. I’m just no good at making progress on work related things after 8pm. 

5. Work: sit down and do the work in the time you allotted. Usually, it’ll be an either / or proposition for me. Like “You have an hour—get two scenes of this chapter done or you take an hour.” If I don’t finish my goal of two scenes done in the hour then I know what I need to do the next day. And can usually pick it up easily the next morning. 

6. Organize: I capture my day in my journal, and break it down into a daily plan bar. Where I plot out the day, hour-by-hour, and identify what I want to accomplish in the deep work block, the day job tasks, and mental load tasks (like errands.) 

A week schedule, and a Day Log

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