Pity the poor political junkie! Play with productivity Legos instead

I am up to HERE with Republican perfidy and pugnacity.  I didn’t start 365 Words Beginning with P to write about POLITICs… though I am a political junkie. Unfortunately Politics and Palin and Putrid and Perfidy and Pugnacious and President all begin with P and when I’ve spent the past ten days watching two conventions (one inspiring, one frightening), I need to vent.

I’m over it…  at least till tomorrow.

Let’s talk instead about productivity, priorities and procrastination!

I stumbled on software developer Michael Hunger’s blog a couple of weeks ago in which he talked about his new method for keeping track of how he spends his time – his creative solution to the Time Log.

Why should we care about time logs?  Because most of us haven’t a clue where the minutes and hours go in the day.  “Where DID the time go????” we ask.  Taking a clue from the diet industry: if you’re trying to lose weight, the first and most crucial step in finding the unconsciously consumed calories is keeping a food diary — writing down every morsel you eat from dawn to dark.  Then it’s much harder to say, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing!”

It’s even harder to record the hours in the day, because it’s so easy to get side-tracked. Michael Hunger makes time-keeping tactile and truly fun by using colored Legos.  You could think of it as Lego Logs.

Here’s the set he uses (available online for about $25):

And here is what a week of work looks like:

He describes his technique:

I chose a time partitioning of a quarter of an hour (each bump = 15 minutes). So I can use the lengths 1,2,3,4 to build 15,30,45 and 60 minutes worth of time in a row representing an hour .

Stacking these hourly rows on top of each other builds up the whole day. I use the different colors for the projects I’m involved in (8 are just enough), putting them on the stack whenever I want and have time to do so (but mostly quite instantly).

I made up a single width column as ruler for the work hours (from at around 10 am up to 6 pm). So I can easily see whats missing and at what time I did something. For the days of the workweek I chose the rainbow color scheme (red, orange, yellow, green, blue – Monday to Friday) for the longer base row that I stack my hours on. So I can gather a whole week of time tracking until I have to enter them in some time sheet (software). I put the columns of a whole week on top of a green building plate to fix them.

You can easily see how much work you did for any given project as you recognize the colored areas rather than time ranges (8:45-11:15). Having the relative time shares as part of this setup helps as well.

You can even plan your work by pre-building your days on temporary bases with the planned amount of time for each activity (or putting at least the estimated amount of bricks aside).

The benefits are obvious:

  • it works (for about 4 months now)
  • I have something to play with while pondering stuff
  • it looks great
  • it’s incredibly fast with no overhead
  • planning is possible

The single disadvantage:

  • coworkers coming to your place and disassembling your time tracks
  • He figures for an 8 hour day you need  5x8x4 = 160 bumps (1×1) minimum to do all your hours. 70% of Lego pack 6177 are one-rowers, so you get plenty.

    One challenge for me is tracking the roving nature of my work. Some is at my desk, some is in the kitchen, some is in the yard, some is around town. I’d just have to carry Legos in my purse at all times.   What color  for household chores? What color for naval-gazing? What color for getting lost on the world wide web? When is dish-washing, naval-gazing or web-browsing part of writing preparation?  I’d need some in-between colors to record these nebulous states.

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    3 responses to “Pity the poor political junkie! Play with productivity Legos instead

    1. “What color for naval-gazing?” Profound question – love it.

      Quirky! but too O.C.D. – fun to read about…helps to make me feel *normal*.

    2. Creative, for sure. I learned recently that there’s a business consulting firm that uses Legos in their team-building and problem solving exercises!

      In our family by all measures Legos were the toy most played with over the longest stretch of time. And they remain the one toy I still enjoy playing with alongside my grandkids.

    3. My son is 14 and we can’t bring ourselves to get rid of his Lego.