Day 15, 30 March 2020


I need a plan. I need to lay out clearly what I do every hour of the working day, because otherwise with a vague “Oh I’ll do this, and then I’ll do that and then I’ll have a look at that other thing”, I just don’t get anywhere. If I block out time on the calendar, I’ll still not get through all the things I write down on my “do today” list, but I seem to need that little bit of unrealistic pressure to stop myself from slowing down. I sort of know in the back of my head I won’t get through everything, but that seems to be ok. I’m always just a bit (or a lot) behind, and most things sort of get done.

The best days are like today: only one small appointment that I can schedule everything else around. Then I set up my system to start at 8am or even a bit earlier, and I churn out the pomodori like’s no tomorrow. I work quite well with the standard 25mins on, 5mins break, and then after four pomodori I get a 30 min break or lunch, or I finish the day. The key thing is to keep the breaks short, and time them. Five minutes is enough, and yet without a timer I’ll end up going for ten or fifteen minute breaks, and by then I have lost the groove.

A while back I set up a sequence in the Seconds app on my phone, but that drains the battery, so the other day I went looking for something easy on the computer, since I am tied to my home desk now all the time. And lo! I found Marinara, a little extension for chrome (in which I do all of my Canvas and blog work). It’s really simple to set up, and I like it. (Wait until I read the privacy statement and T&C, of course. No idea what’s being collected on my work habits right now. That’s not good!)

I’m also learning to alternate the tasks: giving feedback on student work is something I can do for one block of four pomodori, but then I need to do something else. So today I broke it up with writing my daily briefing for tomorrow, and recording to Tuesday Tech Tip videos.

I also managed to squeeze in a video chat with a fellow knitter at the college, sowing some wildflower seeds in my mini garden, a walk, and a flute practice session. And of course, needless to say: it did help that I did not look at social media or the news before 12pm.

How do you cope with unstructured time? Do you use incentives? Do you use apps? Are you a natural-born organized planning person? I’d love to hear what people have tried and what works for them. I know about a ton of “productivity gurus”, but just like this blog is about putting theory into practice (with regards to remote learning), I want to hear about the view from the trenches. Maybe you have the next thing that will keep me going, and I have some FOMO about this!

Dark sky with slightly churning clouds with the foreground in sunlight: a street with some houses, cars parked, and telephone and electricity wires, and a splash of pink in the distance from a cherry blossom in full bloom
Amazing sky in the late afternoon over Highland St.

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