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Manage Your Time Like You Manage Your Money, Then You Can Work Much More Productively

Manage Your Time Like You Manage Your Money, Then You Can Work Much More Productively
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When it comes to time management most of us try to be efficient by getting tasks done quickly or focusing on the short-term benefits. Everyone has 24 hours in their day but how well do we utilise these hours? A better way of engaging our time management effectively is to look to the long-term rather than what we can achieve in the short-term.

Budget control is all about saving our money now in order to invest and assist us in the long-term. To utilise our time, and learn how to be more productive, we need to apply this concept to our time management and create a better and more efficient way to invest our hours so that we reap the benefits later on.

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Time Assets vs Time Debts

James Clear describes the concepts of time assets and time debts. Just like assets and debts are applied to our finances, they can be applied to the way we manage our time to increase or decrease our ability to prioritise skills, create time and our overall productivity.

Time assets are the actions we take that impact our time positively in the future – in other words, the choices we make today that will save us time further down the line. Setting up automation systems to send reminders or publish blog posts is an example of investing time now to save time later on. Putting extra time and effort into covering all bases in an instruction document will save you annoyances and time explaining things down the line when your employees don’t fully understand it.

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Time debts are the actions we do that will rob us of time in the future, much like a financial debt. A common example of this are emails. For each email we send out, we assume that we will receive an email back at some point that will need answering. Therefore, the more emails we spend sending out, the more time we are taking away from ourselves in the future. It seems productive at the time because we feel accomplished for emptying our inbox, but we don’t think about the inbox filling up again the next day.

Make sure the tasks you do today are saving you time in the long-run. Don’t just think in terms of what you need to complete in the coming work day and ticking off your to-do list because that will eventually become never ending and repetitive. It may feel like you’re being productive, but you’re not necessarily investing in that pot of free time you’ll acquire later.

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How To Be More Productive Using Time Assets

There are many ways you can subtly implement time assets into your daily work life. Sit down and think of ways you can streamline your daily tasks. Are there ways you could do them differently?

  • Set up automation systems that send out emails, updates, blog posts, articles.
  • Set up scheduling systems that take out a lot of the back and forth dealings with colleagues and clients.
  • Make use of money tracking apps such as EasyCost to translate your work tasks into monetary terms so as to decide what you plan to do will lead to time debts or not.

At the end of the day, we all want to learn how to be more productive and so we must think of time assets as a system that takes away unnecessary work and works for us as an invisible assistant. If you constantly fill your day with time debts then no matter how productive you are or how hard you work, it’ll be the same every day.

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So when it comes to your 24 hours, be smart and use those time assets to create more time, productivity and efficiency in your work life!

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Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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