Miss Pelican's Perch

Looking at my World from a Different Place


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Brain Dumps and Bullet Journaling– How I Manage My Time: Part II

journal and pencilYesterday I posted about my need to make and work plans so that I can manage a rather large plate of commitments.  Today, I will give you a brief overview of how I do that.

My time management system is a blending and simplification of the Getting Things Done and  Bullet Journal systems.  Both systems can get quite complicated and since I don’t want to make any more work for myself, I just use a few of their basic tools.

In my system, the key components are the Brain Dump, Organizing, Scheduling, and Execution.

The Brain Dump.  This is simply taking a piece of scrap paper and writing down things you need to do.  Write everything on your mind.  Don’t worry, you’ll be thinking of plenty you need to do.  What makes brain dumping successful is NOT stopping to organize or prioritize.  Just write down one thought after another until you cannot think of anything else.  Everything will be mixed up.  That’s okay.  You’ll straighten it all out soon.   Brain dumping could take 30 seconds or 30 minutes.  Here is a sample of a brain dump on did last Sunday covering what I need to get done this week (Yes, it is supposed to look incoherent):

brain dump

Organizing.  Once the brain dump is completed, then you start organizing it.  When I review my dump, first I decide which of the items I wrote down are actionable.  If any are not, then I cross them off.    Next, I take what is left and divide them into three areas:  Singular tasks, Events and Appointments, and Projects.

Singular tasks are simply that.  I typically group the tasks accordingly:  Household/Administrative, Health/Well-being, Church, Spiritual practice, Reading, Writing, Shopping, Payments, and Long-range tasks.  I look at last week’s pages in my planner and note any tasks I did not complete and move them forward to this week.

Events and Appointments:  I look at my monthly calendar and future log (more on this in another post) and note any appointments or events for this week.  I make a chronological list of them with the date, time, location and tasks needed to prepare for them.  If you are using a pre-printed planner you may have already written your events and appointments down on the appropriate day.

Projects:   Projects are made up of multiple tasks required to accomplish the project.  I break the project down into actionable tasks and write them down.   I look at last week’s pages of my planner to see if there are any uncompleted projects and move the appropriate tasks forward to this week.  I look at my future log and long-range goals for projects that need to be started.  I often use a separate piece of paper or page in my planner to break down a project into tasks.

Scheduling.  Now I divide a page of my planner into seven boxes with the day and date of the week.  (You can use a planner with the dates already printed except you need a planner with enough room to write tasks for each day.)  I write down the appointments first.  Then I write down the tasks needed to prepare for the appointment on the preceding days.  Next I schedule the high priority tasks and note them with a star.    Finally, I schedule simple tasks and project tasks on days when I think I have the time to do them.   If I don’t think I will have time to do a task then I put it in a box called “Long Range”.

Execution. All of this organizing and writing is worthless if you don’t do the tasks.  This means you have to exercise a little discipline and just do the stuff!   Each morning look at the day’s tasks.  As you complete each task, check it off.   One day at a time.     This is Bullet Journaling in action.    Many Bullet Journalers employ complicated codes and colors to manage their bullet lists.  I just use four:  a star to denote a high priority task, a check to show I completed a task, a cross-out for canceled events, a right arrow to denote that a task needs to be moved forward to the next week.

Here is my Bullet List for the week of June 5-11:

bullet journal

Examples:  You can see my categories of tasks on the left and then the days of the week on the right with those tasks written in on the days that work best for getting them done.  For example, I did household tasks on Monday because I did not have any events that evening.   An example of a writing project task list:  I listed that I needed to review prompts, outline a blog post, research the post, write it and then post it. Most of these tasks I scheduled for Sunday.  On Tuesday, I had noted that I had to vote — an event/appointment.  So on Monday, I scheduled time for me to review the ballot in preparation of that event.

So there you have the basics of my time management system.  It may seem like a lot of work, but it isn’t really.  It takes a few minutes on Sunday morning to brain dump, organize, and schedule and a few seconds each morning and evening to review the daily tasks.

Again, it’s the only way I can stay on top of things.

 

 

 

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After Work One Night….

Dolores had fallen asleep that evening in the same way she had all week long: face down into her sofa the moment she got home from work. She had been on her feet all day at her uncle’s antique store. He was traveling again to secure more inventory and had left her to manage the store and deal with a steady stream of customers. Today none of their part-time clerks were available so Dolores was left on her own to open and close and handle everything else in between. She was completely spent.

Dolores dropped her bag on the living room floor when she walked through the door.   She immediately flopped onto the sofa “for just a couple of minutes” she told herself before she would make supper. Her little chihuahua mix, Rat-Dog, greeted her with a couple of yaps, jumped on the sofa next to her and nestled down. He seemed to sense her exhaustion and did not whine for his supper. Fortunately, her apartment had a doggie-door to  a  small patio off her bedroom so she did not have to worry about taking Rat-Dog on a potty-walk. She just wanted to get off her feet for a few minutes.

Dolores emerged from her sleep when she felt Rat-Dog jump off the sofa. “Hmmmm, I bet you’re hungry,” she mumbled as she swung her feet to the floor. “Time to get us both fed.” She glanced at the time display on her tv’s cable box. “11:30! Oh, sweetie, I’m so sorry. You really must be starving.” She quickly rose to her feet.

As she started towards the kitchen, she saw the tiny dog come to alert, his face trained on her apartment’s front door. His hackles were raised, and a low growl rumbled from his throat.

“What is it?” Usually when Rat-Dog heard a visitor come to the door, he would yip, yap and bark until Dolores scolded him into being quiet. This time was different.

“Is there someone there?” No one would come to visit this late, she thought. Dolores stepped to the window and tipped a slat in the blinds to peek out. She could see no one on her front porch.

“Silly dog.” She let the slat fall back into place. ” I bet you really want your supper now.” Rat-Dog did not respond. He continued to stare at the door.

“Suit yourself.”

Dolores shuffled into the kitchen, pulled a can of dog food out of a cupboard and got out a can opener. As she was scraping the can’s contents into Rat-Dog’s bowl, she heard him whimper. She walked out of the kitchen and found the dog shivering and backing away from the door. Then she heard it: a soft scraping noise on the other side of the door.

“Who’s there?” she called at the door. The noise stopped. Dolores stomped to the front window and yanked the blinds up.

No one. She strained to see the threshold, but the shadows cast by foliage prevented her from detecting any animal or object brushing against the door. She let the blinds fall down. “It’s probably a raccoon…. I just hope it’s not a skunk.” Her mind immediately went to the doggie-door leading out to her bedroom patio. That’s all she needed:  one of the wretched little beasts getting into her apartment. She rushed into her bedroom and snapped the latch on the doggie-door. She could see the quivering little lump that was Rat-Dog hiding under her bedspread.

“My hero….” Dolores shook her head. “C’mon, let’s go eat dinner. I’ll keep you safe from the big bad racc–”

A loud bang on the front door made Dolores jump back against her bedroom wall. Rat-Dog began to bark and thrash his way from under the tangle of the bedspread. Dolores pulled herself together and rushed back into the living room. Keeping her eyes on the door, she grabbed her handbag. She rummaged through it until she found her cell phone. She pressed the side button and saw a tiny sliver of red pop up on the display and the words “Battery Empty. Please recharge.”

“No, no, no….” She punched the face of the phone. The display momentarily flashed and then went black.

Another loud bang rattled the front window and shook the door on its frame. Dolores tossed away the phone and crouched on the floor between the sofa and the coffee table. Rat-Dog went berserk. Foam and saliva flew from his mouth as he barked.

There was no point in yelling for help: Dolores knew that the couple upstairs were on vacation and the old man in the adjacent unit never heard anything at night when he turned off his hearing aid.

Her eyes darted to the top of her curio cabinet in the corner of the living room. Atop it was a katana, a pre-World War II Japanese sword that she had acquired from her uncle. The cold curve of its steel blade and its elegant black-lacquered sheath glinted under the display lights above the cabinet.

Another bang startled Dolores and she glanced back to the door. Then she saw the deadbolt latch. It was vertical. She had forgotten to turn it to locked position when she came home. Dolores started towards the door to turn the latch but jumped back when the door knob jiggled.

Dolores raced to the curio cabinet and pulled the katana off the display holder. She gripped the sword and held it out in front of her.

Truth be told, the real reason she had acquired the sword was not for its aesthetic qualities or historical significance. Rather, she got it to silence her gun-toting friends who insisted that she needed protection if she chose to live alone. Dolores hated guns and would not have one in her home. Her concession, laughable as it was, was to get the sword and buy a dog.

Dolores shifted her grip on the sword. Her breathing was quick and shallow, and sweat beaded on her forehead and face. Rat-Dog had stopped barking and stood whimpering behind the coffee table.

Could she defend herself? She had been taught all her life to “turn the other cheek”, “do unto others,” and “love your enemy.”

Dolores sighed and gently laid down the weapon on the coffee table. She had envisioned in her mind when she got the sword that IF she ever found herself in this situation, she only had to wave the sword around and frighten off her intruders. Here she was now– living out her own fantasy. Or was she? She knew that if someone came through the door, no amount of blade-wielding bravado would help her. Could she actually hurt someone?  Could she draw blood to save herself?  Would she?

Everything had gone silent except for the ticking clock on the dining room wall. Dolores counted the seconds and after a couple of minutes, she let out a huge breath of relief. She would not need to be tested after all.

Then, the door knob turned. The door swung open and hit the wall, leaving a crack in the plaster.

Dolores’ gaze returned to the sword resting on the coffee table.

The End.

 

ljgloyd (c) 2016

 

 


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Trekking through a Second-Degree Life

trekLiving a “second-degree” life can be deadly — so goes the hype posited by those in our culture who have decided that it is imperative to live what they may see as a “first-degree life,” or the “good life” if you will.   The purpose of such a life is in striving to reach certain personal or career goals in a particular length of time while consuming much, becoming influential, staying young, fit and beautiful, and amassing great wealth.   Much has already been written about the folly of pursuing a version of life that has the individual at the center of his or her own universe with every need and want gratified and their engagements with others reduced to the depth of an oil slick.

Don’t misunderstand me.  I am not saying that such individuals are “bad” or any worse they any other person on this planet.   In fact, when many who have pursued such a life finally become satiated with all the things they have achieved and are mourning the lack of meaningful relationships, they may actually turn altruistic and start giving back.

However, the reality is that most of us have lives where we don’t achieve some — or even most– of these life goals.  Many do not receive fortune, power, health, glory, love, or even a roof over their heads — no matter how much they strive.  Many are constantly being disappointed by situations and people and wonder if they will ever achieve anything worthwhile in their whole lives ever.   (I have actually thought this myself a few times).   Such is the second-degree life.

But that life is not all dark clouds and rain.  Many of us are simply called to persevere through the disappointments and trials of life and hope for the best.  The burdens we carry during our trek enables us to be compassionate and kind towards others who carry the same burdens.    Yes, there are times when I want to forego the character-development lessons that life tosses me and just not have to worry that I will have enough money to pay the bills.  However, most times I see that my disappointments with circumstances and people are for the best in the long run (“dodged a bullet” is an expression that comes to mind) and that my life’s purpose is simply to strive towards contentment.

There are even some who come to terms with such a life and actually achieve joy in it.  This is especially true for those who have a faith-tradition that urges them to focus not on the “whats” in life, but on the “Who”.  They walk through life with a peace and contentment that is sometimes beyond understanding.

Sometimes our purpose is simply being able to get out bed in the morning, put on our poker faces and play the hands we are dealt.  The goal is to do this with as much grace and dignity as possible and find joy and fulfillment along the path.

For me, that truly is a first degree life worthy of striving.

ljgloyd (c) 2016

 

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That Demon Drink

coffeeI make coffee for myself every morning.  I pop a k-cup into my fancy coffee-making machine and away I go.

Let me digress for a moment to say that I did not buy the fancy coffee-making machine.  It was sent to me at random by the fancy coffee-making machine company as a promotion.  Of course it was a ploy to suck me into buying their expensive coffee cartridges to go into the fancy coffee-making machine.  I fell for it.  Still, though, making it at home with this device does save me some money.  Fifty cents to a dollar per cup (depending if I have one of those blue and white 20% off coupons from my local home store chain).  Making coffee at home beats the price of the brew I would need to purchase at my local “green mermaid” coffee house.

Back on point:  as I said, I make coffee every morning.  I never forget to make it, but I have on certain occasions made the coffee and then left it on my kitchen counter as I go out the door.  What then follows is a period of intense condemnation on my part: “You idiot, you moron, you putz!”   Then comes the frantic scramble to find a replacement cup.  Usually I buy a cup from the canteen at work that costs even more than the cup from the green mermaid place.  Or worse, if I’ve gone to one of my relatives’ homes, I’ve reduced myself to consuming a cup made from instant coffee purchased at a dollar store.   Brrrr…….

Now I could wax all metaphoric and say that having my cup of good coffee is the same as doing a morning devotional practice:  it orients my day and gets me started on the right path. The problem with that notion is that a real spiritual practice shouldn’t involve  handling boiling liquids before one is fully awake.  I could also say that I need my morning joe to boost my creative output.  No, I’m not any better at writing with coffee than without it.

No, the truth of the matter is — and I’m sure you all have figured it out by now — I am a raging caffeine addict.

Yes, I admit it.  I confess it.  I beat my breast in anguish and self-loathing.

But I would like to add, as any true addict would, it isn’t all my fault.  See, I didn’t touch the stuff until I was about 35 when all the coffee houses started opening up.  It was innocent enough at first:  I started with the iced-blended mochas, then moved to lattes, then cappaccinos, finally ending with the straight up brew itself.  And not the mild stuff, but the deep, dark, rich, smoky roasted stuff that would eat through the bottom of the cup if I left it long enough (which I don’t).  Really hard-core stuff.  Yeah, my dealer is a mermaid and she made me a junkie.

And let’s not forget the aforementioned fancy coffee-making machine people and the “free” machine.  It’s like having a demon crouched in the corner of your kitchen.

Kick it, you say?  Ah, yes, nothing is more delightful than to face a full-on, mind-splitting caffeine headache at 11 a.m. when you are trying to hold down a job and get your work done.   Or worse, giving up coffee only to replace it with bottle after bottle of diet sodas or that sneaky, subtle little conveyor of caffeine they call tea.

At this point, I don’t know what to do except try to limit my coffee to a moderate amount, moderate being a 12 ounce cup in the morning followed by a 20 ounce in the afternoon purchased from one of my dealers.

Sigh.

I wonder if there is a 12-step program for caffeine addicts.

 

ljgloyd (c) 2016