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The Ultimate Secret to Better Time Management

The Ultimate Secret to Better Time Management

We’ve all done it: promised ourselves we’ll be better at managing our time, only to follow through for a few weeks before eventually reverting to our old habits. Then, we resort to fighting fires again.

Our to-do list is so full that we scramble to finish whatever is at the top, while continuously adding items to the bottom. The list grows until one day, we decide it’s time for a change. We look for productivity apps to help us keep track of it all, decide on the one that we think will be best for us, and commit.

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For some reason, though, it seem to stick. Sound familiar?

Finding the Right Time Management Method for You

There are an abundance of time management strategies; finding the right one for you depends on a variety of criteria.

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If you are a chronic multi-tasker, you may benefit most from implementing the “touch it once” rule, which promotes working on only one task at a time, until the task is brought to completion. By using this method, you can train yourself to stop multi-tasking, which allows you to accomplish more in the day.

For those who have trouble deciding what to work on, the Eisenhower Matrix is a great option. This style of organization helps people prioritize, by sorting tasks into categories based on their Importance and Urgency. Once you have organized your to-dos in this manner, it’s obvious which ones you should attack first: those that are both important and urgent.

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People with too much work on their hands can benefit from implementing the 5 steps of the GTD Method. Following this methodology allows for quicker decision-making, so you spend less time getting organized and more time “getting things done”.

“So, which is the best?”

The fact of the matter is, there is no answer to this question. The “best” method of time management depend on the individual. However, no matter which you choose, the bottom line is this:

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The Secret to Better Time Management is Actually Discipline

And here’s why: once you find a method that really works for you, unless you stick to it, you’ll inevitably slip back into your old habits.

So, in order to become better at managing your time, you must work on increasing your discipline. Here are 6 tips to help you increase discipline, inspired by this article in Forbes:

  1. Remove Temptation. If you’re following the touch-it-once rule, for example, leave your phone in the other room when you sit down to work on a task.
  2. Don’t Wait for it to “Feel Right”. Growth is not always comfortable, and sometimes it’s necessary for us to force ourselves out of our comfort zone to make a change. Don’t start next Monday. Start today.
  3. Schedule Breaks. Growth is also incremental. As you grow, give yourself time to breath. This will keep you refreshed and allow you to keep making forward progress.
  4. Forgive Yourself. It’s okay to make mistakes along the way. Forgive yourself quickly for failures and get back in the game, rather than letting small obstacles deter you.
  5. Tell People About Your Goal. Telling others around you about your goal helps you hold yourself accountable; if you know your co-worker or classmate is aware of the change you’re trying to make, you’ll be more vigilant about monitoring yourself.
  6. Make it a Habit. Studies show that forming a new habit takes about two months. Challenge yourself to stick to your new time management routine for at least 60 days. Before you know it, you’ll be following it subconsciously.

Becoming more organized is a goal for many of us, and reaching this goal can help us accomplish more, while reducing stress and increasing our level of happiness. For each individual, the road to organization will look different, but for all of us, the secret to success is staying in the lanes.

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

What is decision fatigue? Let me explain this with an example:

When determining a court ruling, there are many factors that contribute to their final verdict. You probably assume that the judge’s decision is influenced solely by the nature of the crime committed or the particular laws that were broken. While this is completely valid, there is an even greater influential factor that dictates the judge’s decision: the time of day.

In 2012, a research team from Columbia University[1] examined 1,112 court rulings set in place by a Parole Board Judge over a 10 month period. The judge would have to determine whether the individuals in question would be released from prison on parole, or a change in the parole terms.

While the facts of the case often take precedence in decision making, the judges mental state had an alarming influence on their verdict.

As the day goes on, the chance of a favorable ruling drops:

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    Image source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

    Does the time of day, or the judges level of hunger really contribute that greatly to their decision making? Yes, it does.

    The research went on to show that at the start of the day the likelihood of the judging giving out a favorable ruling was somewhere around 65%.

    But as the morning dragged on, the judge became fatigued and drained from making decision after decision. As more time went on, the odds of receiving a favorable ruling decreased steadily until it was whittled down to zero.

    However, right after their lunch break, the judge would return to the courtroom feeling refreshed and recharged. Energized by their second wind, their leniency skyrockets back up to a whopping 65%. And again, as the day drags on to its finish, the favorable rulings slowly diminish along with the judge’s spirits.

    This is no coincidence. According to the carefully recorded research, this was true for all 1,112 cases. The severity of the crime didn’t matter. Whether it was rape, murder, theft, or embezzlement, the criminal was more likely to get a favorable ruling either early in the morning, or after the judges lunch break.

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    Are You Suffering from Decision Fatigue Too?

    We all suffer from decision fatigue without even realizing it.

    Perhaps you aren’t a judge with the fate of an individual’s life at your disposal, but the daily decisions you make for yourself could hinder you if you’re not in the right head-space.

    Regardless of how energetic you feel (as I imagine it is somehow caffeine induced anyway), you will still experience decision fatigue. Just like every other muscle, your brain gets tired after periods of overuse, pumping out one decision after the next. It needs a chance to rest in order to function at a productive rate.

    The Detrimental Consequences of Decision Fatigue

    When you are in a position such as a Judge, you can’t afford to let your mental state dictate your decision making; but it still does. According to George Lowenstein, an American educator and economy expert, decision fatigue is to blame for poor decision making among members of high office. The disastrous level of failure among these individuals to control their impulses could be directly related to their day to day stresses at work and their private life.

    When you’re just too tired to think, you stop caring. And once you get careless, that’s when you need to worry. Decision fatigue can contribute to a number of issues such as impulse shopping (guilty), poor decision making at work, and poor decision making with after work relationships. You know what I’m talking about. Don’t dip your pen in the company ink.

    How to Make Decision Effectively

    Either alter the time of decision making to when your mind is the most fresh, or limit the number of decisions to be made. Try utilizing the following hacks for more effective decision making.

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    1. Make Your Most Important Decisions within the First 3 Hours

    You want to make decisions at your peak performance, so either first thing in the morning, or right after a break.

    Research has actually shown that you are the most productive for the first 3 hours[2] of your day. Utilize this time! Don’t waste it on trivial decisions such as what to wear, or mindlessly scrolling through social media.

    Instead, use this time to tweak your game plan. What do you want to accomplish? What can you improve? What steps do you need to take to reach these goals?

    2. Form Habits to Reduce Decision Making

    You don’t have to choose all the time.

    Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it doesn’t have to be an extravagant spread every morning. Make a habit out of eating a similar or quick breakfast, and cut that step of your morning out of the way. Can’t decide what to wear? Pick the first thing that catches your eye. We both know that after 20 minutes of changing outfits you’ll just go with the first thing anyway.

    Powerful individuals such as Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and Mark Zuckerberg don’t waste their precious time deciding what to wear. In fact, they have been known to limiting their outfits down to two options in order to reduce their daily decision making.

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    3. Take Frequent Breaks for a Clearer Mind

    You are at your peak of productivity after a break, so to reap the benefits, you need to take lots of breaks! I know, what a sacrifice. If judges make better decisions in the morning and after their lunch break, then so will you.

    The reason for this is because the belly is now full, and the hunger is gone. Roy Baumeister, Florida State University social psychologist[3] had found that low-glucose levels take a negative toll on decision making. By taking a break to replenish your glucose levels, you will be able to focus better and improve your decision making abilities.

    Even if you aren’t hungry, little breaks are still necessary to let your mind refresh, and come back being able to think more clearly.

    Structure your break times. Decide beforehand when you will take breaks, and eat energy sustaining snacks so that your energy level doesn’t drop too low. The time you “lose” during your breaks will be made up in the end, as your productivity will increase after each break.

    So instead of slogging through your day, letting your mind deteriorate and fall victim to the daily abuses of decision making, take a break, eat a snack. Let your mind refresh and reset, and jump-start your productivity throughout the day.

    More Tips About Decision Making

    Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

    Reference

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