Tool #9: Planning your time

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As a precarious design worker, planning one’s time is important in order to avoid becoming overrun and exhausted by work, whether paid or unpaid. Planning one’s time is also about avoiding getting drawn into design activities that one doesn’t really care about or having one’s time sucked away by numbing procrastination in front of a screen.

Whilst being in control of one’s time could be entirely focused on increasing productivity, particularly in the short-term, here we would rather focus on how to have the opportunity to develop not solely market-oriented design work and how to plan one’s time in order to stay healthy. Planning is thus a lot to do with finding a balance between work and those activities one values outside of work, about reducing stress and staying healthy – physically, mentally and socially. However, a lot of existing methods to plan one’s time have been generated in efforts to increase productivity through (self-)management – so whichever method you chose for yourself, make sure not to let yourself be enslaved to complete productivity.

Basics for the healthy planning of your time:

• Learn to say no.
• Find the time of the day when you produce your best work and keep it free for producing what you value the most.
• Make sure you regularly get enough sleep, make time for healthy food, physical activity, proper relaxation and to be with the people you care for.
• Plan ahead and use a calendar to keep an overview.
• Break projects and activities down into tasks so you have an idea of what kind of workloads you have ahead of you.
• Set personal deadlines a couple of days before real deadlines in order to have time for unexpected complications, for spontaneity and for time off because of illness.
• Cut down disruptions and mind-numbing procrastination in order to get things done and thus to have time for what you love to do outside work.
• Don’t overfill your daily to-do-list as this will give you the constant feeling of not being productive enough.

Last edit: 19.05.2014