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06 February 2015 ~ 2 Comments

The John Bell Schedule

Let me preface this by warning you that this is going to be a long post.  I’m long winded and detail oriented and I tend to ramble.. it’s just going to happen.  I know I’m supposed to keep things short and easy to read and scannable, and that’s something I’ve been working on for my business blogs.  But this is my personal blog, and dammit, I’ll write how I want.  So if you get tired of reading… well… Oh well.

I’ve been a very sort of disorganized person my whole life.. in my head I was organized, I knew where things were, I knew what needed to get done, and I got it done.

At least that’s what I thought.

I manage a lot of websites, and it can be easy for things to slip through the cracks or get put off for too long.  Last fall I tried making a schedule so I could keep on track, and it didn’t work. It’s just not how I work.

My friend saw the schedule on my fridge I had made then, and was inspired to do similar, he called it his ‘John Bell Schedule’ which is where I got the name for this post.

I tried it again a few weeks ago, and this time I’ve stuck with it, and the changes have been night and day.

Making and Keeping a schedule can be hard, especially if you’re a normal person like me who just likes to go with the flow and not put too much thought into things, so I’m going to share with you some things I’ve noticed, and some things I’ve changed that has helped me stick with it this time.

Be Consistent
The most difficult part about sticking to a schedule is knowing you don’t REALLY have to.  Once you allow yourself to budge on a few things, it gets easier to keep budging on things, and before you know it, your schedule is doing nothing for you.

Make it Easy to Find
I keep mine on my phone, because I take it everywhere, this way I get alerts no matter what I’m doing or where I am to finish up on that task, and get ready to go into the next.

Schedule EVERYTHING
One of the struggles I had with my previous schedule was that I left a lot of things out, so when I needed to do them – I would inevitably have to do it when I should have been doing something else. Scheduling EVERYTHING makes it so that you don’t feel so pressured to skip things to do others, because you know that you will have an opportunity to do it later.  This has been a huge one for me because when I would normally remember I had to do something, I would stop what I was doing and start doing the thing I remembered, leaving what I was working on unfinished and neglected.  Knowing that I have time allotted to do it later helps me stay focused on what I am working on, and allows me to ‘let go’ of remembering what else I need to do, because I know I’ll have a chance to get it done.

Use Notebooks
Another thing that has helped me stick to it is I have notebooks and pens all over my house now.  Notebooks are cheap, just the inexpensive spiral ones will suffice.  This has been huge for keeping me stay focused because when I’m working on one thing and inspiration strikes for something else, I no longer shift gears and neglect what I was doing; I’ll always have a notebook within my line of sight that I can just grab and write down the idea, and let it leave my mind without having to worry about trying to remember it, or trying to find the time.  Then when I get to the time that the idea was for, I can just grab the notebook and go through my ideas.  For example, I have a ton of websites.  I’ll be working on one and I’ll get a great idea for a different one, I can just write down the ideas, and when I get to my scheduled time to work on that website I already have a list of ideas and things I can go through, this helps me be a lot more efficient on the time I am working.

Give yourself Breaks and Leisure Time
I work on the computer, and sitting in front of a computer for a dozen hours straight has taken it’s toll on my eyes.  In my schedule I keep computer work in 1-Hour blocks, followed by an activity that is away from the computer, and a few half hour breaks.  During the breaks I give myself a theme, like now I am trying to get fit so each break has a different exercise.  This isn’t part of my exercise time, but it’s something to fall back on if I find myself standing there not knowing what to do.  This is the time of day where I CAN let my mind wander like it wants to, where I can see something I want to do, and be impulsive and just do it.  For example, my dog loves to rip toys up.  I love letting him do it, because he clearly loves it so much, but then I end up with piles of fuzz everywhere.  It’s not my cleaning day yet, but that pile of fuzz is bothering me.  During my break time I might take the chance to clean up all the fuzz.  While doing that I may notice dust behind my TV, well now I can get that dusted.. While dusting I may notice the cabling and get an idea for solving an electrical outlet shortage in part of my house, or realize that my clock is off, or realize that my heater might work better in a different part of the house.  Giving myself these break times with nothing lets my mind wander like it wants to, and lets me get random odds and ends stuff done that I may put off.

Be Specific
When I started out I just put ‘Hobby’ time in for an hour a day.  So Hobby time would come, and I would just do whatever, mill around, fold laundry, play with my dog, anything.  Then after it I’d realize I should have spent that time mopping, or that I needed to get a haircut and just gave up the time in the day I had to do it.  Be specific in your leisure time if there is something you want to accomplish, for example the first Wednesday of each week I’ll go get a haircut, the 2nd Wedesday I’ll shampoo my carpets, every Thursday I’ll clean the bathroom and kitchen, etc. Being specific makes sure that you get done what you want to get done.

Long Meal Times
I originally was scheduling myself a half hour for lunch, even though I premake salads so lunch only takes about 10 minutes, I’d still somehow run out of time.  This is time to relax and take it easy, give yourself plenty of time to make and eat your meals so you don’t feel rushed, any extra time you can use as break time like mentioned above.

Force Yourself Outside
I spend almost all day of every day inside, but on Saturday’s I schedule myself 3 hours where I force myself to go outside.  Even if I don’t want to.. Go on a hike, on a bike ride, something.  It’s important to be active and get outside and get some fresh air.

Why do all this work?
If I had read this post three weeks ago I would have rolled my eyes and said there’s no effing way I would do any of this.  But I changed my mind.  There is a gym opening very close to my house and I signed up and wanted to go in early in the morning while it’s clean and before other people started pouring in.  Doing this meant having to get used to getting up early.  I normally stay up late at night, I thought I loved it, I thought it was my most productive time of day. What I found out was that I was really putting everything off, and then at the end of the day I had to get it done.  I figured if I could find a way to force myself to shift these activities earlier in the day, I wouldn’t have to stay up all night working on them.

What I discovered is that days where I thought I had worked 10, or 14 hours.. I had really only worked about 2 or 3.  So much of my time was just spent doing busy work, consuming media, time wasting.. I’d go to sleep thinking I had a nice productive day of work, but after doing my schedule I realized that I was doing nothing.  I had projects that had been neglected for several months, some things I hadn’t touched in three months or more.  Having scheduled time where I force myself to get it done has made a huge difference.  All of my projects are being completed and maintained like they always should have been, while still having time to be social, have fun, and take it easy.  I’ve honestly never been so productive in my entire life.  All of my projects are caught up, and I’m able to not only keep up on them, but also still have time to work on new projects.

It’s been challenging because when I made my schedule I thought I knew what I was doing, but then as I went through it I realized there were a lot of things I didn’t have time for, so I’ve had to adjust things to make sure EVERYTHING is included.  If I leave anything out of the schedule then you either won’t get it done, or you’ll sacrifice time from something else to do it, and once you get in the habbit of swapping things out at will, you’ll begin to slowly stop following your schedule.

I use google calendar for this because it sync’s up with my phone, it lets me set events for daily, weekday, monthly, yearly, etc. This way I can totally make sure I have time for EVERYTHING I need to get done, as well as time to have fun, relax, and unwind.

The results have been incredible.  My house is cleaner than it’s been in a long time, all of my work is getting done, and I’m getting healthier by eating the correct amount of meals and getting exercise in.  I thought I was doing great, but having a schedule has allowed me to surprisingly get a lot more work done, both with my job and my personal needs, as well as have more leisure time.  I know that doesn’t make sense how I could get more work done and have more time, but having the schedule forces me to work when I should be working, instead of half assing it and checking facebook every 3 minutes, so I’m getting a ton more done while I am working which leaves me more time to get more done in my house and with myself; mentally and physically.

I Challenge You
I challenge you to try the John Bell schedule.  Give yourself a few days to write down the things you do, also write down the things you want to get done.  Create a schedule that includes all of this stuff, but don’t be afraid to adjust it.. I change mine at least a couple times a week as I discover things that may need more focus, and things that need less, or things I need to make sure I’m including that were neglected, or too vague.

Try it out, and be consistent.. stick with it!

Let me know in the comments if it works for you , or if you have any other suggestions or tips for people like me who are new to scheduling.

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27 September 2014 ~ 0 Comments

How to Add Gravatars to PHPBB.. the easy way!

I’ve spent the better part of this afternoon figuring out an easy way to add gravatars to the Team Conquets forum.. there was a serious lack of information about it so I figured I’d make a post explaining simply how you can do it by changing the avatar function to gravatar…

The first step is to go to viewtopic.php in your forum directory..

You will find this at or around line 1156

‘avatar’ => ($user->optionget(‘viewavatars’)) ? get_user_avatar($row[‘user_avatar’], $row[‘user_avatar_type’], $row[‘user_avatar_width’], $row[‘user_avatar_height’]) : ” ,

Just simply replace it with:

‘avatar’ => ($user->optionget(‘viewavatars’)) ? get_user_avatar($row[‘user_avatar’], $row[‘user_avatar_type’], $row[‘user_avatar_width’], $row[‘user_avatar_height’], ‘USER_AVATAR’, $row[‘user_email’]) : ” ,

The next step is to find your functions_display.php file in the forums include folders, it will be at or around line 1302

function get_user_avatar($avatar, $avatar_type, $avatar_width, $avatar_height, $alt = ‘USER_AVATAR’)
{

global $user, $config, $phpbb_root_path, $phpEx;

if (empty($avatar) || !$avatar_type)
{

return ”;

}

}

Now replace that with this Gravatar function

function get_user_avatar($avatar, $avatar_type, $avatar_width, $avatar_height, $alt = ‘USER_AVATAR’, $user_email = ”)
{

global $user, $config, $phpbb_root_path, $phpEx;

if (empty($avatar) || !$avatar_type)
{

if ($user_email) {

$grav_id = md5($user_email);
$grav_default = ‘mm’;
$grav_rating = ‘R’;
$grav_size = 100;

$grav_url = “http://www.gravatar.com/avatar.php?gravatar_id=$grav_id&default=$grav_default&size=$grav_size&rating=$grav_rating”;

return ‘<img alt=”‘ . ((!empty($user->lang[$alt])) ? $user->lang[$alt] : $alt) . ‘” src=”‘ . $grav_url . ‘” width=”‘ . $grav_size . ‘” height=”‘ . $grav_size . ‘” />’;

}

else {

return ”;

}

}

}

That return string is your output, you may wish to add Center tags or css to it.

The default is any of the Gravatar default images, you can change that variable to whichever you prefer, including the URL to an image.. the size is the pixel size, and the rating is the maximum rating you’ll allow to be displayed.

Enjoy 🙂

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