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Want To Be More Successful? You Should Follow This Rule To Manage Your Time

Want To Be More Successful? You Should Follow This Rule To Manage Your Time

Quick question…how much do you know about time? Think about it for a moment. Shouldn’t you really know? After all, whether you realize it or not you’ve spent a very long time trying to manage it. How’s it working out for you?

Most likely when you get up in the morning you think about your schedule or the things you need to get done that day. You’ve prioritized your list in your day planner and you’re ready to go.

Be honest, by the end of the day you’re amazed at how fast the day went wondering why you didn’t get much done. The answer may be simple. Maybe everything you’ve learned about managing time is a complete waste of time.[1]

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Time To Understand

“Time is an illusion.” – Albert Einstein

The gurus of time management seem to have an edge. The 4-Hour Workweek Author, Tim Ferris seems to know a great deal about time management. What does he know that you don’t? Let’s try to understand time first. In simple terms, time is when stuff happens. We tend to limit our definition of time to a clock. But time is more sophisticated than that. The other type of time is real time.

Clock time is measured in minutes, hours, days, etc. With clock time, all time passes equally. When someone turns 20 they are exactly 20-years-old, no more, no less. With real time, all time is relative depending on your point of view. 2 hours spent at the dentist can feel like 5 years. 5 hours spent at a beautiful beach can feel like 10 minutes. You get the picture.

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Are You Living In Real Time Or Clock Time?

Which type of time do you live in? If you’re using time management tools and gadgets you’re living in clock time and clock time is irrelevant. You live in real time. The good news is real time is mental and you create it. And anything you create you can manage. Now you have to power to remove those self-imposed limitations of “not having enough time” or “it’s not the right time”. So stop looking at the clock every time you need to get something done.

Time Is Of The Essence, Spend It Wisely

“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” – William Penn

Becoming the master of your own time requires an understanding of three ways to spend time: thoughts, conversations and actions. No matter what business you’re in, your work will always encompass these three things.

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To better understand this concept, think of what you normally do to manage your time. Planning your tasks within blocks of time during the day does not work. Your focus is on clock time which is irrelevant. Chances are you won’t get much work done because you’re limiting yourself to a timeframe.

Instead of putting a time schedule on the things you need to get done, focus on the real time productive thoughts, conversations and actions that will produce the most results. For example, your thoughts are the tasks you need to get done, the conversations are the plans you create to accomplish them and the action is what you do to get them completed. There is no timeframe to concern yourself with because you are working in real time.

Here are some techniques you can follow to help you master your own time:

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  1. Carry a note book and write down your thoughts, conversations and activities for a week. This will give you an idea of how much you can accomplish during the day and where you time is being spent.
  2. Every day spend 30 minutes to plan your day but don’t assign timeframes.
  3. Allow time for interruptions and plan time to be taken away from what you’re doing.
  4. Spend 50 percent of your time committed to the thoughts, conversations and activities that generate most of your results.
  5. Only assign a time to any conversation or activity that’s important to your success.
  6. Understand that it is impossible to get everything completed.
  7. The odds are good that 20 percent of your thoughts, conversations and activities produce 80 percent of your results.

Mastering your time is a worthwhile endeavor. By removing your thoughts from the limiting influence of timeframes you’re free to manage your time through creative thoughts, conversations and activities that produce measurable results. Everyone is different with their creativity so give it a try and see what your creative mind can come up with.

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Anthony Pica

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

More on the Importance of Taking a Break

Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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