Death of the diary. How to manage time?

Colleagues suggested writing about diaries. But it’s hard to write about them without touching on the big topic of time management. Especially when you stopped using diaries.

In my opinion, the only time you need a diary is when two people open their notebooks and set a time for their next meeting. You can also make notes in them during meetings so that the speaker sees how you listen to him carefully. Or draw (in business diaries, you need to specially allocate space for doodles and add a few more examples).

But using a diary to write down a list of work tasks for the day in it is a failure. Constant transfers from day to day, fixing sudden urgent matters, including cases for five minutes, shuffling in time – this is continuous grief, pain, depression.

I imagine a person who opens his beautiful diary in the morning, or rather not in the morning, but the night before (this is not counting the weekly and monthly reviews ). The next day, he crosses out the cases one by one, and at the end puts a neat tick. And with a clear conscience, he goes to carry out a pre-planned task from the “enjoy life” list. There are few people who really manage to live like this, and I think they all have already written at least one book on personal development.

What if not a diary

“Relevance over consistency” is the quote that started my introduction to 37signals (by Rework and Remote ). Everything that I use is dictated by my way of working ( home-office ) and life (ibid.), which means that it will suit few people.

So my tools are:

  • wall calendar: this is a miracle thing to quickly estimate something in time + it hangs right next to the table, so I can mark trips, theater trips and other events, especially those with a long planning horizon;
  • google calendar: the main tool for scheduling meetings, although I don’t have as many of them as my colleagues, I spend more time doing something with my hands (and many people probably envy me). By the way, writing a meeting plan on the calendar is a useful thing (and supplementing it if you remember that you want to discuss something else). Looking at colleagues’ calendars is a super useful thing, you can accidentally find out about things that are very important for your work. My colleagues also book time in the calendar for specific tasks, but I don’t succeed, something urgent often arrives or the task takes longer than it seems (this happens with frequency always). And this means transferring to another day, and this, as I wrote above, is vanity, pain, depression. The exception is regular tasks that need to be done once a week or once a month. The second exception is cases that are strictly tied to time, for example, checking documents or reminding someone of something.
  • notepad for meetings: during meetings, especially hangouts , there is a great temptation to get distracted, and a notepad and notes help you not to lose the thread of the conversation (even if you are not participating in it), fix side thoughts, not to mention the fact that it can be useful to refresh agreement, if there was no protocol in the mail. After the meeting, I sort out the notes: I transfer some information to Google docs , I do tasks for five minutes right away, I put the rest in a notebook for tasks;
  • the notebook for tasks should be on a spring so that it can lie on the table invitingly open. If the notebook is closed, then this is another obstacle action. I’m also more comfortable with the horizontal orientation, then the task can fit in one line. I will write more about maintaining a to-do list in the next section.

Everything is with the tools, but this does not mean that all the work is done on paper, the working team may have its own tool, for example, trello , but I still duplicate my tasks in a notebook.

Once I was fond of electronic to-do lists, but still, in terms of the minimum time to access the list, the notebook is in the lead.


Once Boris Grebenshchekov admitted in the program “School of Scandal” that he likes to make lists. At the same time, if you take a beautiful pen and beautiful paper, then your list is doomed, you need a stub of a sheet / napkin and a pencil. I completely agree: some draft, in which something is already written in all corners, part is torn off for chewing gum, and the rest is doused with tea, such a sheet with a list will live for a long time.

My notebook for tasks is an ordinary notebook in a cage on a spring, gnawed and in places covered with coffee. Once at the notary I saw a thick lined book for registering services and thought: what we need, we fix everything in a row with stupid constancy. I drew a notebook into five columns: the date of the task, the scope of the task (for example, GD – Google docs , EC – electric books , I – games), description, column for the label (deadline or check), date of completion. I began to put labels and dates of occurrence quite a long time ago, a couple of notebooks ago. Dates give a sense of reality – with what intensity you accumulate things and when you actually complete them.

I only enter work cases in the table and only on odd pages. On even days, I write down homework, English homework perpendicularly, and keep various lists (for example, 10 books that I am currently reading – this will be a bonus at the end of the article).

I think it’s more convenient for me to keep a general list, and not nail tasks on the calendar, because structural procrastination is everything. Need to do something, but there is no exclamation mark? I’ll take care of crossing another case off the list. For example, now I am writing this article, not the TOR for the art director. Tomorrow morning there will be nowhere to go.

And now a bonus, a list of books in June, I read / listen to all of them at the same time, not counting the last one. Every month I try to read ten books and write reviews on them on social networks. Sometimes I think it’s faster to read a book than to write a review.

  1. ” Lingvo . The Language Landscape of Europe”, Gaston Dorren (EC). I read every book about languages and linguistics in a row. Oversimplified in places , but overall a good review with appropriate humor.
  2. Diary of a Bookseller, Sean Bythell (EC). Forgive me, Sean, but I bought his book in electronic form. It would seem that the life of a bookseller in a small Scottish town should be monotonous, but no, Sean knows how to enjoy life.
  3. “The Suffering Middle Ages”, (B). I read before going to bed, it is a pity that the quality of printing is not very high, the book was worthy of more.
  4. “The Supernormals “, Mag Jay (EC). I’m a fan of Mag Jay’s other book, The Important Years (probably came at the right time for me), so I took up this book as soon as the layout appeared. Jay still writes well, but the topic of people living with old psychological trauma is irrelevant to me and generally narrow.
  5. Delivering Happiness, Tony Shay (AK). I should have read this book when applying for a job at MIF, five years ago, but better late than. I liked the first part more, where such a charged Tony tries himself, gets carried away, changes business areas. In the second part, it is already five minutes to a business consultant with missionary notes. Perhaps the fact that before reading the book I knew a lot about Zappos influenced , so the wow effect did not happen.
  6. “From the Prechistina to the Arbat Gates”, Moscow, which does not exist (B). A book published with love. Walking around Moscow with her, on the one hand, is a great happiness – because of the well-chosen stories, plans and photographs, on the other hand, a great frustration – you regret those houses, streets and destinies, about Moscow, which no longer exists.
  7. “Invented in Russia”, Tim Skorenko (EC). Nice sober panorama of Russian inventions and inventors.
  8. “Down with Mean”, Todd Rose (EC). I became interested in this book after the preface, where it was compared in scale with Fukuyama’s The End of History. Just getting started, let’s see if it really represents a paradigm break.
  9. “Artiodactyl whales, four-winged dinosaurs, running worms…”, Andrey Zhuravlev (B). New paleontology is terribly interesting, but I read terribly slowly, because after each extinct anomalocaridid , I surf the Internet, watch its reconstructions and hang out.
  10. ” Essentialism “, Greg McKeon (AK). As with Delivering Happiness, this is one of the program books for MIF staff . The message of the book is: stop and think about what’s really important, don’t do the rest. It remains to figure out how to develop this habit.
  11. The philosophy of the good life, Rolf Dobelli (AK). This book was recommended to me by both its editor and the adult producer. Besides, we are writing an audio version, and I still need to listen to it. So I combine business with pleasure.

Leave a Reply