Time management: from paper diaries to ClickUp
Andrew Bell is a medical translator working from Spanish, Portuguese and Catalan to English trading under the name Bell Johnson Translations. You can connect with him by using the following links:
As my workload increased this year, I soon realised that my time management methods were not up to scratch. I knew that if I didn’t fix them quickly, they were going to start causing me problems rather than helping me stay organised.
I’m going to talk about the various time management strategies and tools I’ve used as an adult, so if you want to read the part about ClickUp skip ahead to The Translating Days section😉
The university days
I don’t want this to sound as though I went to university in the stone age, but 2013-2017 was such a long time ago in tech years.
When I first started university, there was no question about it, if you wanted to stay organised, you had to buy a weekly planner/diary. The one I had was quite simple, it was a small booklet and when opened, the two-page layout was split into seven sections for each day of the week. At the beginning of each week, I would write down my timetable and a mini to do list under each day. As the week progressed, I would add to these to do lists as I was given assignments and tasks to do.
On the whole, I had no complaints. This diary helped keep me somewhat organised throughout my time at university, but I always felt that this method wasn’t perfect. By default, you could only look at a weekly view (shock), which made long-term planning somewhat troublesome.
When I had long-term deadlines, for example, an essay that was due in in four weeks, I had to make a separate planner with a monthly view. There were several ways to do this, sometimes I would use a monthly calendar and other times just a plain piece of paper. The main issue I had was that it added to the number of things I had to keep track of, and it was very easy to ignore the calendar or brush the piece of paper aside. When procrastination wasn’t an option, I would write down my deadlines on post-it notes and stick them on my laptop, because I knew this way, I was sure to see them. This did work, but every time I opened my laptop, I would have to remove the post-it notes, which meant they lost their ‘stickiness’ and resulted in me replacing them several times a week (or even a day).
The teaching days
When I graduated from university, I moved to Mexico to teach English for two years. Whilst living abroad, I started to embrace technological time management. I started using the calendar app on my phone to schedule appointments and deadlines, I found this was so much more efficient than using a paper weekly planner. I soon realised that last minute changes are quite common in Latin America, so being able to edit my schedule without scribbling anything out made the digital calendar much more visually appealing. I also liked the fact that I was able to look at my schedule in a variety of views, including daily, weekly and monthly, and view the calendar on a number of devices.
Again, this still wasn’t perfect. If I had a deadline, to mark some exams for example, the digital calendar would schedule the event from the time I wanted to start marking them to the time they were due in. This sometimes meant that I would have an event scheduled over several days, and when I completed the task, the only way to remove the deadline from my calendar was to delete it from the app. I often found that this didn’t improve on weekly planner I used at university in terms of managing my time, as it was hard to plan my time efficiently when my calendar was telling me that I had all day to do a particular task, when in reality, it wasn’t the only thing I had to do that day. Nevertheless, I found the digital calendar much more user friendly and practical than its paper counterpart.
The translating days
Once I started working as freelance translator, I completed a time management course on LinkedIn Learning that really helped me make the most out of my digital calendar. It certainly helped me dedicate specific times of the day and week to complete routine tasks, such as replying to emails, undertaking CPD activities etc. However, now I needed a way to manage deadlines and plan my time effectively so I could take on new projects, and I felt that something was missing from the digital calendars I was using. So, I took to twitter and asked for some recommendations. I was pleased with the responses I got, and I decided to look into one of the suggestions that was ClickUp.
A little disclaimer before I talk about ClickUp, I’m not affiliated with the company at all, nor am I receiving anything for writing this blog, this is just an account of my own personal experience.
I’ve been using ClickUp for a little over a month now, and I’m certainly no expert on maximising my productivity using the platform, but it has certainly had a huge impact on my working habits in a relatively short period of time.
Here are some of the features I like most about the platform:
This is something I had always tried to do subconsciously when I made lists. I would write the most important task at the top of the list, but I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that doing that seldom works. ClickUp allows you to prioritise tasks as urgent, high, normal or low. Then, you can configure the platform to show you tasks you need to do in order or priority.
It’s safe to say the digital calendar is better than the weekly planner in terms of viewing your schedule in different ways, but I have to say ClickUp is even better than digital calendars for this. With ClickUp, you have the calendar view, which has an additional 4-day view that isn’t available in the digital calendars I’ve used, but it also has other views, such as a standard list and the board view. I quite like the board view as you can mark tasks as to do, in progress or complete, so you can visualise what you are doing more easily. All of these features are also customisable, so I’m sure there is a lot more I could be doing with the platform, but for now, these features are more than enough for me. There are also other views available, such as table view, that I’ve yet to explore, but I’m sure they offer yet another interesting perspective to time management.
I touched on this in the last point, but what I like about this is that when you complete a task, you can mark it as complete. This removes it from your calendar view, but it doesn’t delete it from the platform in case you need to find it later. This means that you only see the tasks that need to be done or are in progress on your calendar, so you can quite easily see if you’re available to take on new projects.
Of course, there are many other features on ClickUp, but these are just the ones I’ve found most useful. When I initially asked the Twitterverse for advice and suggestions, other apps like Todoist were also recommended, so I’d be interested in hearing anyone’s experience with other time management apps, or even other non-technological ways you manage your time.