Jared White Photo of Jared

Expressively publishing on the open web since 1996.
Entranced by Portland, Oregon since 2017.

Issue #21: ⌚️📦 New Adventures in Timeboxing and Feeling Sane

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Over the years, my relationship with “timeboxing” has waxed and waned. There have been times (pardon the pun) when I have desired to TIMEBOX ALL THE THINGS 🙌 and there have been times when, like, I just want to be spontaneous, man. Channel my inner Dude and abide.

Last year was mostly about abiding for me. Coming down from the stress of (a) a global pandemic, (b) getting divorced, and (c) moving, I had to put in some serious effort to not feel like doing anything at all was a serious effort.

I think I did OK—maybe even better than OK—but as I contemplate what my goals are for 2023, I've realized that just sort of wandering around Portland hoping the Tao will lead me to the perfect cafe where I can plop down and eek out a new blog post isn't the season I am in anymore. That worked, for a time. But now I needed to add some more structure back in to my time.

So here we are, timeboxing once again. And so far, so good! Now what do I mean when I use the term timeboxing and how can you implement something like that in your life?

It's really rather simple to explain (but not gonna lie, difficult to implement):

Step 1: Write down a concise description of your perfect work day. Things like: "8am: Breakfast with coffee or tea" or "1pm: Focus on client projects" or "3:30pm: Take a break to get some household chores done".

Step 2: Actually adhere to your schedule as best you can for a few days.

Step 3: Figure out what works and what doesn't, or what's missing, and adjust accordingly.

Step 4: Rinse and repeat.

🚨 BIG WARNING 🚨 Don't make the mistake I've made in the past of trying to add all these "timeboxes" to your calendar. This isn't a calendering technique. This is a "how do I imagine my day might flow to optimize my energy levels and ensure my primary goals don't fall off the wagon" technique. So you should just have a ready note of some kind (mine is linked from a pinned "homepage" in my notetaking app Bear) containing your proposed schedule, and then reference that from time to time as you go about your day. Expect that on any given day, your timeboxes will shift around a bit. Maybe for some reasons I end up having breakfast at 9am instead of 8am. Or maybe I get chores done at 2pm instead of 3:30pm. Doesn't matter! The point is that I'm still doing the things I set out to do, for the most part.

I'm also quickly learning that I need to incorporate some unexpected details into my timebox reference note as I try it out. For example, the cafe I wanted to go to this morning for coffee & breakfast has new “winter hours” and is now closed Tuesday & Wednesday! So I'll need to take that into account. I also discovered this morning that I'd forgotten to charge up both my iPad and my e-scooter. Clearly I need to add "Make sure all important devices are charging!" to my nighttime ritual.

Past me would have relished these little unexpected hiccups, taking them as a sign the Tao is leading me off on another path. And to a certain extent, that's still how I like to roll. The Abidance of the Dude hasn't completely escaped my mind. But if I want to accomplish all that I wish to this year, and feel genuinely productive without loosing my marbles in the process, it's time to timebox.

Links from Around (My) Web

Since the last newsletter, I rounded out the year with a few podcast episodes: E-Scooters & the News with FeedBin, Harry & Meghan, Taylor Lorenz, and the Campaigns of Hate, and My Top 10 Genre Movies & Shows of 2022.

I also published the article My Top Ten Non-Sci-Fi Films of 2022. So lots to catch up on if you haven't looked at those already.

A couple highlights from my @jaredwhite@indieweb.social Mastodon feed:

OK, I'm now using @elk on my iPad and OH MY GOD I never want to use any other web client for Mastodon !! (Not to cast any aspersions at Mastodon, but Elk feels like graphics designers designed a web app UI and then implemented it. I'm extremely impressed.)
🔗 link


I've never used GitHub Copilot, ChatGPT, or Stable Diffusion.

I've also never snorted cocaine, jumped out of an airplane without a parachute, or bought a declining social network for 44 billion dollars.

Is that really so bad??
🔗 link

to which Ivan responded:

until you’ve snorted cocaine as you text your lawyer on the final purchase approval right before jumping out of an airplane, you haven’t really lived.

Great stuff. 😂

OK, that’s all I got for now. Catch ya in the next newsletter. Peace. ✌️


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