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3 Simple Strategies For Better Time Management

3 Simple Strategies For Better Time Management

Our screen addiction has turned into a procrastination addiction, and we’re more exposed to distraction than ever. Need more proof? I could kill your work day with a simple link (seriously, don’t click it).

The web is full of tips on how to manage your time, stay productive, and get more done in less time. The world wants to save you some time while all you do is read these articles and slack off. With all the productivity tools, tips, and tricks available, we’ve become obsessed with becoming more productive. But if you put too much time into managing your time, you might want to reconsider your approach.

This is why it’s useful to consider a non-managing approach to time management — a lazy take on this growing trend. Think of it as time management for people who really can’t seem to manage. Here are some tips that won’t take up your time, but will get you started on managing your time better. They’re far from expert-level time management, but they make for a good introduction.

Plan to be interrupted

If you want to quit procrastination, schedule time for procrastination. Plan to be distracted, because you inevitably will be.

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If you allow yourself a portion of time and stay focused on work, knowing you’ll get your break in a while, you’ll be more productive and, in time, procrastinate less.

Basically, get it out of your system.

The same goes for various distractions and interruptions. Stop constantly checking your email and social channels — nothing is that urgent. Plan to check every few hours or so and refrain from visiting these sites outside of these times.

There are also a few handy tools available, like SelfControl, that can help you blacklist the unwanted sites and block them for a few hours while you’re trying to focus. Do you think you’re not hooked? I dare you to try the app and find out!

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Remember: there’s no better time-killer than a lost pen

Clutter is a known productivity killer.

Don’t let your mess take over your mind and leave no space for thinking, planning, and working. Declutter your home, keep your workspace tidy, and clean up the mess in your environment to create a better working environment for your brain.

What you’re surrounded by ultimately affects your productivity, and if you want to get things done, remember to declutter. It’s now well known that a messy desk is a sign of a creative person, and that’s probably true, but even creatives can benefit from becoming a little more efficient.

Track your bad habits

Are you a smoker? An avid facebook checker? A cat video lover?

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Whatever bad habit you may have, you’re probably struggling to quit. How about taking some time to get a better perspective on your bad habits? Track your time doing these things for a week. Be consistent and track every moment of a habit you’d like to get rid of. Then revise.

Would you be watching cat videos for just “a couple minutes now and then” if you knew that the time actually amounted to 4 hours of your week?

The same goes for multitasking – if you tracked your unfocused work for a couple of weeks, you might discover that you spend a majority of your week working on things that get you no results.

There is tons of time that can easily be saved.

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You could use that time for things that are much more useful — reading a book, mastering a skill, learning a new language. You could be an expert in a few months. And soon enough, your longstanding cat video expertise will be replaced with, you know, something actually useful.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash / By Steve Houghton-Burnett via unsplash.com

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Last Updated on July 13, 2020

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed and exhausted.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm; leaving you calmer, in control and a lot less stressed.

1. Write Everything down to Offload Your Mind

The first thing you can do when you begin to feel overwhelmed is to write everything down that is on your mind.

Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s on your mind.

For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind”.

The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will begin the process of removing your feeling of overwhelm. Writing things down can really change your life.

2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

Once you have ‘emptied your head,’ go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. Here’s How to Cultivate a More Meaningful To Do List.

3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

Now here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and us humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take:((Odhable: Genesis of Parkinson’s Law))

    This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad but they stick to the belief it will only take thirty minutes. It’s more wishful thinking than good judgment.

    We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage. If you have estimated that to write five emails that desperately need a reply to be ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

    Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is you put yourself under a little time pressure and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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    When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time and so it plays tricks on us and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our colleagues to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

    Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening and we get more focused and more work done.

    4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

    Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos. Go through your to-dos and schedule time on your calendar for doing those tasks. Group tasks up into similar tasks.

    For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

    Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

    5. Make Decisions

    For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

    If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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    If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss, a colleague and get advice.

    Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. You need to make a decision to deal with it and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved. (You can take a look at this guide on How To Make Good Decisions All The Time.)

    I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend of mine of the problem. He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I paid a smaller amount for a couple of months.

    This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

    The first, don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second, there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

    6. Take Some Form of Action

    Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we feel overwhelmed (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

    The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

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    It also means rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible and you can make decisions easier about what to do about them. Often it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be you see you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

    Overwhelm is not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work, it can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

    The Bottom Line

    Make a decision, even if it is to just talk to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something on its own will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution one way or another.

    When you follow these strategies to can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

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    Featured photo credit: Andrei Lazarev via unsplash.com

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