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The Trick to Time Management? Treat Your Passion Projects Seriously

The Trick to Time Management? Treat Your Passion Projects Seriously

You have a Pinterest board with about 80 things you’d like to attempt: oil painting, redecorating, a movie you’ve had in mind for years. Maybe you’ve got a business venture you’ve been casually pursuing, and the folder full of bookmarked links to prove it. Occasionally you add things to it, pinning inspiring quotes or color palates, but mostly it’s a daydream.

It seems we’re all over-scheduled and often left without the energy to pursue our passions. When we do score an extra 15 minutes or an hour in our days, many of us will spend them watching TV or catching up with a friend rather than pursuing a project. And that’s perfectly fine, but if you do want to find time in your day to pursue a passion project, you probably need to re-think not just how you plan your days but also how you think about your passion project.

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Start by trimming down the ol’ to-do list, editing it to include only what’s essential to your day. This will give you some extra time, but just making the time is not enough, you also have to be in the position to use that time on your project. In other words, it’s time management, not just time, that’s the key. For so many people, it’s much easier to spend extra time focused on the things we need to do, and quite difficult to give the same level of importance to the things we want to do.  However, by indulging in our aspirations, in conjunction with prioritizing our time, we can help ourselves to create better time-management habits overall, which will help us find time to do everything – including that which genuinely makes us happy.

Here are a few tips for doing just that:

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Set Reasonable Expectations

Be realistic about what it will take to accomplish your goals. If you only have about 15 minutes a day of free time, then adjust your goals and timeline accordingly. This might also require that you challenge some assumptions about what is needed for you to work on this passion project. Creatives, for example, can often be tricked into thinking that a 15-minute chunk of time is not enough to get anything done — they may believe they need to get into a creative mindset first, have relative quiet, and know that any flow they get into will not be interrupted. If this is an issue for you, think about ways to make that time work. Perhaps a one-minute meditation to get in the zone could help maximize your time, or perhaps it’s just a matter of practice. You may also need to adjust expectations: Maybe this passion project will take a year, or a few years, instead of a few months. So be it! Small, incremental accomplishments toward a larger goal are still better than doing nothing and wishing things were different. By valuing that precious 15 minutes a day, you’re also keeping yourself dedicated to a purposeful schedule that allows for free time – which will help you to not over-schedule yourself, in general.

Carve Out Time

If your to-do list is an immovable object and your passion project is an unstoppable force, then we’ve got ourselves a classic shield and spear paradox. For some people, their written-in-stone life cannot accommodate other ventures — this is often true for working mothers, who have immutable demands placed on their time, or for those whose income is directly tied to the precise amount of time they work. So, what’s the workaround for this scenario? If your life is such that you absolutely cannot substitute one task for another, or can’t cancel certain parts of your day to make room for a project, then steal a few minutes from every task on your list. Even if it’s as little as 5 minutes from each, it’ll add up. Glennon Doyle, a popular author and blogger, has said she started getting up two hours before her kids in order to give herself writing time … and in order to do that she had to do something parents of small children everywhere would find difficult: give up nighttime TV. No one said it would be easy, but if a project is important to you, creating the time for it is the first step toward making it real.

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Take It Seriously

Valuing a passion project means being consistent with all of your daily tasks and taking the project seriously enough to schedule daily time for it. If you treat these tasks as optional, the entire project will become optional. Making a to-do list can help with this; include your daily, weekly, and monthly goals. Create milestones that you can brag about. Post work-in-progress pictures to social media. Do whatever it takes to legitimize the experience for you, thus making you stay on track with all of your tasks, and propelling you forward.

Ultimately, making your dream come true is all about finding the time, managing the time, and making your goals a reality.

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Featured photo credit: monkeybusiness images (iStock) via istockphoto.com

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Matt Girvan

Founder, My Gung Ho

The Trick to Time Management? Treat Your Passion Projects Seriously

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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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