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9 Ways to Tell You’re Secretly a Time Management Guru

9 Ways to Tell You’re Secretly a Time Management Guru
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Author Michael Altshuler said, “The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” You probably kick yourself sometimes for not being a good enough pilot. You’re likely to kick yourself when you hold yourself up to a success standard that says, “I’m not rich and famous, so I’m not successful.” One quote I saw on a coffee mug recently said, “You have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyonce.” The intent is good, and it’s lighthearted, but you’re not Beyonce. Each person can be a superstar at time management within their own sphere. Here are 9 signs you’re rocking it.

1. You’re creative

Out of the five habits of highly creative people, the ability to follow a routine is number one. Psychologist William James says schedules “free our minds to advance to really interesting fields of action.”[1] Following a schedule isn’t easy; it’s a matter of your will power consistently conquering your body’s tendency towards inertia. Training your body frees your mind. If you rock a routine and find creativity flowing out of you like a waterfall, chances are you’re really, really good at time management.

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2. You’re organized

For you, organization is second nature. Having good organizational skills is about being physically and mentally organized. Physically speaking, you have no problem categorizing things and putting them in their proper place. Mentally, you’re able to prioritize tasks, attending to the most important ones first. You know how to get organized at work, but you know not to let conventional wisdom trap you. The most important task at hand is not necessarily work, it can be play, and more on that soon.

3. You finish important projects

This one stems directly from being creative and organized. The successful creative understands when they should abandon certain projects and keep on with others. So, you organize your priorities, and you follow through on what’s most pertinent. If you think about it, what else is time management about? You use your time to indulge the passions and projects that are indispensable to your being.

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4. You find time to daydream and play

According to Kaufmann and Gregoire, “A review of the latest science of daydreaming has shown that mind wandering offers very personal rewards, including creative incubation, self-awareness, future planning, reflection on the meaning of one’s experiences, and even compassion.”[2]

Note that future planning plays a role in daydreaming, as it does in time management. A balance between discipline and play creates a fertile field, from which your mind grows ideas when you’re relaxed and having fun. You make time to rejuvenate your brain with outdoor activities; doing so improves creativity by 50%[3], and a creative mind is one of the hallmarks of a good time manager.

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5. You maintain focus

Focus is the key to completing tasks, and you know this, which is why you’ve mastered maintaining focus, even when there are a lot of distractions. You set up your work space to facilitate work using your organization skills, and you make sure distractions don’t intrude. You make sure the people around you know you’re working, which creates the window of focus-time you need. You know how to redirect your attention when a distraction does grab you, and you’re able to address distractions competently. Finally, you remind yourself of priorities with regularity, ensuring you stay on task.

6. You’re on top of your budget

If there’s any truth to the saying “Time is money”, then effective budgeting is time management. As a great time manager, you employ at least several of the ways to budget for happiness. You find multiple ways to save money each month. You minimize food expenses by eating out less and cooking more. You have an emergency fund and other resources set aside for tough times. You make sure ordinary necessities are taken care of, you grow food and craft household items. Finally, you include the cost of play, relaxation, and new experiences in your budget.

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7. You get exercise

The benefits of exercise are plenty, which is why you incorporate it into your schedule. That, and you just like the way you feel when you exercise. Through regular exercise, your memory improves, you’re less depressed, and you learn faster. It may keep you looking young longer, but you’re not worried about that because you’re too busy being active. Your skin looks great, and you have the right amount of fat for your body type.

8. You’re there for people (within reason)

Particularly if you’re an extrovert, you find there are a lot people in your life, and you relish the time you spend with them. If you’re an introvert, you have to make a point to include other people in your life, and when you do, it’s rewarding. In any case, a social life is necessary for the well-rounded person. But you strike a balance. Too much social time means you’re not writing that book you need to finish, or if you’re a social worker, it means you’re not getting enough self-care. Whatever the case, a balance between social life and other priorities is a sign you manage your time well.

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9. You know what to ignore

Your BS meter is truly tuned in to things that are a waste of your time. No one has time for everything, and you’ve got to weed out the things that just aren’t worth it; for you, this is a no-brainer. Congratulate yourself for having an exceptionally fine filter.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via pixabay.com

Reference

[1] Square, Inc: 5 Habits of Highly Creative People
[2] Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire: Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind
[3] American Graphics Institute: How To Improve Creativity By 50%

More by this author

Dan Matthews, CPRP

A Certified Psychosocial Rehabilitation Practitioner with an extensive background working with clients on community-based rehabilitation.

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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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