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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 September 11, 2019

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

How often do you feel overwhelmed and disorganized in life, whether at work or home? We all seem to struggle with time management in some area of our life; one of the most common phrases besides “I love you” is “I don’t have time”. Everyone suggests working from a to-do list to start getting your life more organized, but why do these lists also have a negative connotation to them?

Let’s say you have a strong desire to turn this situation around with all your good intentions—you may then take out a piece of paper and pen to start tackling this intangible mess with a to-do list. What usually happens, is that you either get so overwhelmed seeing everything on your list, which leaves you feeling worse than you did before, or you make the list but are completely stuck on how to execute it effectively.

To-do lists can work for you, but if you are not using them effectively, they can actually leave you feeling more disillusioned and stressed than you did before. Think of a filing system: the concept is good, but if you merely file papers away with no structure or system, the filing system will have an adverse effect. It’s the same with to-do lists—you can put one together, but if you don’t do it right, it is a fruitless exercise.

Why Some People Find That General To-Do Lists Don’t Work?

Most people find that general to-do lists don’t work because:

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  • They get so overwhelmed just by looking at all the things they need to do.
  • They don’t know how to prioritize the items on list.
  • They feel that they are continuously adding to their list but not reducing it.
  • There’s a sense of confusion seeing home tasks mixed with work tasks.

Benefits of Using a To-Do List

However, there are many advantages working from a to-do list:

  • You have clarity on what you need to get done.
  • You will feel less stressed because all your ‘to do’s are on paper and out of your mind.
  • It helps you to prioritize your actions.
  • You don’t overlook so many tasks and forget anything.
  • You feel more organized.
  • It helps you with planning.

4 Golden Rules to Make a To-Do List Work

Here are my golden rules for making a “to-do” list work:

1. Categorize

Studies have shown that your brain gets overwhelmed when it sees a list of 7 or 8 options; it wants to shut down.[1] For this reason, you need to work from different lists. Separate them into different categories and don’t have more than 7 or 8 tasks on each one.

It might work well for you to have a “project” list, a “follow-up” list, and a “don’t forget” list; you will know what will work best for you, as these titles will be different for everybody.

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2. Add Estimations

You don’t merely need to know what has to be done, but how long it will take as well in order to plan effectively.

Imagine on your list you have one task that will take 30 minutes, another that could take 1 hour, and another that could take 4 hours. You need to know the moment you look at the task, otherwise you undermine your planning, so add an extra column to your list and include your estimation of how long you think the task will take, and be realistic!

Tip: If you find it a challenge to estimate accurately, then start by building this skill on a daily basis. Estimate how long it will take to get ready, cook dinner, go for a walk, etc., and then compare this to the actual time it took you. You will start to get more accurate in your estimations.

3. Prioritize

To effectively select what you should work on, you need to take into consideration: priority, sequence and estimated time. Add another column to your list for priority. Divide your tasks into four categories:

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  • Important and urgent
  • Not urgent but important
  • Not important but urgent
  • Not important or urgent

You want to work on tasks that are urgent and important of course, but also, select some tasks that are important and not urgent. Why? Because these tasks are normally related to long-term goals, and when you only work on tasks that are urgent and important, you’ll feel like your day is spent putting out fires. You’ll end up neglecting other important areas which most often end up having negative consequences.

Most of your time should be spent on the first two categories.

4.  Review

To make this list work effectively for you, it needs to become a daily tool that you use to manage your time and you review it regularly. There is no point in only having the list to record everything that you need to do, but you don’t utilize it as part of your bigger time management plan.

For example: At the end of every week, review the list and use it to plan the week ahead. Select what you want to work on taking into consideration priority, time and sequence and then schedule these items into your calendar. Golden rule in planning: don’t schedule more than 75% of your time.

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Bottom Line

So grab a pen and paper and give yourself the gift of a calm and clear mind by unloading everything in there and onto a list as now, you have all the tools you need for it to work. Knowledge is useless unless it is applied—how badly do you want more time?

To your success!

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Featured photo credit: Emma Matthews via unsplash.com

Reference

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