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I don’t know about you but sometimes when I take a look at my big project (Operation Launch Business by October 1- woot!), I find myself dabbling, in the brief scattershot moments of time that I do have, in work related to the project.  It’s not for lack of desire but for direction! I usually end up not using my rare free time effectively.  That’s the case with most of us, I know.  But if you’re a full-time parent, you must be using the short bursts of time you have (for whatever you want to do) in the best way possible.  I took time yesterday to organize my thoughts and outline an actual time line for my work.  I love learning others’ best practices so I thought I’d share what I did here, in case it might help you-

  1. Location: I went to the Durham Public Library main branch where it is assumedly quiet.  I put my headphones on and found an out of the way corner (since the “study” rooms were smaller than my bathroom, featured windows where you could see everyone and not especially quiet) and got myself settled. I’m a coffee shop person but for hardcore, “get ‘er done” work, I usually need to not be in a social spot.
  2. Time: I took 2 hours and used almost all of it.
  3. Process: First, I sorted through the loose papers I was carrying around.  I hate to read online so I often print blog posts that I want to use to read at a later point.  Great idea in theory but in practice, I am often drowning in paper! Some were blog posts that I liked, some ideas about business development, some were my own notes.  I looked at them and determined whether or not they were relevant to where I was right now or useful information for a later date.  Most fit into the latter category.  I put them aside with a sticky “to be filed” and kept the one out.
  4. Process: I write down most everything (notes from meetings, my ideas, small bits of research that I’ve done, to do’s, etc.) in my small black Moleskine.  Consequently, it’s jammed full of information that isn’t ordered.  Moleskines have a “bookmark” ribbon and an elastic band marker…and pockets!  So I decided to use these better.  I also found a paperclip and clipped a stack of recent pages that I no longer needed to see (ideas about the name, past notes from Birth Circle, etc.).  Result? I know exactly where I left off and what I need to do next.
  5. Process: Then, I did a data dump of everything that I could think of on my to-do list: “large” (website pages audit) and “small” (send a “thank you” card to Nicole).  The “large” were complicated than the “small” but both were important.  I wrote down everything that I could think of related to the Launch on one side of a fresh page in my trusty Moleskin.
  6. Process: When naptime rolls around, I am often ready to start my work…but how do I choose what to work on? To offset this common problem, I outlined a plan for the week on the other side of the page that has the massive to-do list.  I chose 2 “large” and 3 “small” to accomplish for the week, starting Monday today.

Next steps: I have sculpted out that time for myself on a weekly basis.  I’ll re-visit the to-do list, outline a plan for the week and use any leftover time for writing or proofreading (work that I do best alone or at least in a quiet time).

j0403178When you’re at the beginning, or even near the beginning, it can be hard to dive in and start.  We find it comforting to stick with what we know, even if we crave something else.  The assumption is that starting is really HARD.  The reality is that while it might not be the easiest thing; it is simple.  You start typing.  You call someone you need to meet.  You put one foot in front of the other, away from Gmail and toward your office.

What tips do you have for someone at the beginning?

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