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Published on December 30, 2019

10 Smart Time Management Techniques to End Busyness

10 Smart Time Management Techniques to End Busyness

Do you find that your days are constantly filled with piles of tasks that seemingly have no end? Being busy doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being productive at work. In some instances, it can even suggest a lack of time management skills.

Here are 10 smart time management techniques to help you overcome busyness.

1. Track Your Time

Monitoring the time you spend on tasks can give you an overview of areas that need improving. It allows you to learn from experience and is a simple and straightforward time management technique.

By simply setting a timer when you begin a new task, and then switching it off once you’re done, you can gain insight into how long you spend on a certain task. This enables you to compare your expectations to reality, and make improvements based on your findings.

2. Eat the Frog

Eating the frog is a term put forward by Brian Tracy, which refers to completing your biggest task first. It derives from a Mark Twain quote where he said,

“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

There’s no greater feeling than accomplishing a big task and getting it out of the way.

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The concept suggests that if you complete your biggest task first, the feeling of accomplishment will be so great that completing the rest of your tasks in comparison will seem like a piece of cake.

3. Apply the 80 20 Rule

Also known as the Pareto Principle, the 80 20 rule suggests that 80 percent of effective results comes from 20 percent of your tasks. This basically means that for every 10 tasks you have, only two would produce quality results, so of course, they’re the ones you want to focus on.

Write down a list of 10 tasks you have to do in prioritized order. Look at the first two things on the list and put your focus into them throughout the day. Even if you don’t complete your list by the end of the day, at least you’d complete the most important ones.

4. Block Your Time

Scheduling time blocks is a time management technique that can help you get rid of distractions. The idea is that you block out chunks of time throughout the day for a specific task, and during that time, you concentrate on that task only.

An obvious way to do it is based on your deadlines. If you have an urgent task to hand in the afternoon, then it makes sense to block a couple of hours in the morning to work on it.

However, another way to effectively block your time is to schedule tasks according to when you’re most productive. For example, if you find that you’re less productive right after your lunch break, then schedule routine tasks that don’t require too much creative thinking, such as checking your emails.

5. Use the 2-Minute Rule

A huge barrier to effective time management is procrastination, and applying the 2-minute rule can help overcome it. Most menial tasks are usually things you’re already capable of doing, it’s just getting started that’s the hard part.

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The first part of the rule, which stems from David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done®, states that if a task takes less than two minutes to complete, then just do it. Finish it and complete it then and there.

The second part of the rule advises that if you’ve started a new habit, then make sure it takes you less than two minutes to complete, because it follows the idea that every goal can get started in two minutes or less.

6. Avoid Multitasking

While it may seem like you’re doing more in less time, multitasking can actually have the opposite effect. Known to actually lower your productivity, it can diminish your focus and take you longer to complete your tasks.

To help fight the urge of multitasking, get rid of anything that has the potential to divert your attention away from the task at hand. For example, only keep one tab open when working on a computer or make your browser bigger so you don’t see anything else.

7. Say “No” More Often

Learning to say no may not seem like one of the most obvious time management techniques, but once you start doing it, you’ll realize how much time you’ve saved for tackling your tasks.

Saying no to things doesn’t mean saying no to everything. Instead, it encourages you to re-think and re-prioritize the things that matter. Once you know which tasks are important, you’ll find that you’ll no longer waste your time sitting in meetings that you don’t need to be in or doing a task that isn’t really relevant to your job.

Learn how to say no from Leo Babauta The Gentle Art of Saying No.

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8. Establish a Morning Routine

Daily routines have the power to help you recover wasted time and revitalize you. As it provides structure to your day, they can also make you more productive and set the momentum for the rest of the day.

An effective morning routine doesn’t mean you have to run 20 miles before the sun comes up and drink a glass of raw eggs. All you have to do is plan a few tasks that can help you feel re-energized in the morning and repeat it until it becomes a habit.

Some examples of tasks you can include are making your bed, stretching for five minutes, or drinking a glass of lemon water: Need Morning Motivation? 30 Routines to Help You Start Afresh

9. Create a Nighttime Routine Too

Just like a morning routine, a nighttime routine can provide structure for your day.

Winding down during the last couple of hours before bedtime can also give you a better night’s sleep, which is always useful for time management.

Once again, you don’t have to do anything drastic, but think about tasks that could help you the next day. Your nighttime routine could include packing your gym bag or getting your breakfast and lunch ready.

Take a look at this for inspiration: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide: Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

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10. Take Breaks

Although it may seem like a counter-productive time management technique, taking regular breaks at work is important for your mental health and maintaining efficiency.

It’s important to take your breaks because working straight through them can make you more susceptible to decision fatigue and a decrease in creativity. Your body and mind require rest and sustenance, so take advantage of your breaks at work and go out and grab a healthy lunch or stretch your legs. You will get back to your desk feeling refreshed and more motivated to keep working.

In this case, the Pomodoro Technique maybe good for you: Why the Pomodoro Method Is the Best Productivity Timer

The Bottom Line

Busyness isn’t the equivalent to being productive at work. If anything, it could be a sign of bad time management skills. But trying out these time management techniques is just the first step.

If you find that you’ve yet to see effective results, then you have a talk to your manager. Your busyness could be down to simply having too much on your plate and the need for a restructure.

Remember, being honest about your workload is better than constantly stressing and risking a burn out.

More Time Management Tips

Featured photo credit: Artur Łuczka via unsplash.com

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Dinnie Muslihat

Writer, content marketer & productivity enthusiast

How to Write SMART Goals (With SMART Goals Templates) How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules Why the Pomodoro Method Is the Best Productivity Timer 10 Smart Time Management Techniques to End Busyness 10 Organizational Skills Training Techniques for the Overwhelmed

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

2 Transformational Ways to Spark Your Creative Energy

2 Transformational Ways to Spark Your Creative Energy

Good things come in twos: Peanut butter and jelly, Day and night, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The same is true for what sparks our creative energy: our thoughts and actions.

Creativity is an inside job as much as it is about a conducive schedule, physical environment, and supportive behaviors. By establishing the right internal and external landscape, creativity can blossom from the abstract to the concrete and we can have fun along the way.

Sparking creativity is all about setting up the right conditions so a spark is ignited and sustained. The sparks don’t fizzle out. They are allowed to grow and ripen.

Think of a garden. Intention alone will not produce the delicious red tomato nor will the readiest seed. That seed needs attention at its nascent stage and as it grows a stalk and produces fruit. If we want to enjoy more than one fruit, we keep at it, cultivating the plant and reaping multiple harvests.

Creativity lives in each of us like seeds in the earth or encapsulated in a nut. Seeds of ideas, concepts, designs, stories, images, and even ways of communicating that surprise and delight await activation.

By sparking our creative energy, we activate these unique seeds. Like snowflakes, they are of a moment and always without a match. The smallest sparks encourage even the smallest, most dormant seeds to sprout.

The good news is that our creative energy wishes to be sparked—to be invited to play. It wants to be our regular playmate.

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1. Be Childlike in Your Thoughts, Attitudes, and Approach

Being childlike in our thoughts, attitudes, and approach is an easy way to internally have our thoughts be gracious prolific gardeners to our creative energy. If we want it to come out and play and hang around as our regular companion, then let’s return to our 5-year-old selves.

Our childhood selves are naturally curious. We still have that curiosity! All we have to do is remind ourselves to get curious. We can do that by simply observing and being with what is in front of us instead of making up a story about what won’t work or why something can’t be done. So, it’s about cultivating curiosity instead of jumping into judgment.

Move Your Inner Judge to the Sidelines

When we get curious, creativity percolates and, ultimately, takes its place in the world. To give a hand in choosing curiosity over judgment, we can move the judge that also lives inside us to the sidelines. The judge squashes our creative urges, even when they are as small as sharing a point of view. It’s that pesky voice that causes us to doubt ourselves or worry about what others will think.

The judge is also risk-averse. The judge likes things to stay the same. Change makes the judge nervous.

Creativity is all about risk and changing things up. It needs risk, even failure, to be its naturally innovative, dynamic, impactful self. The judge likes to convince us failure is something to be avoided at all costs.

To move the judge to the sidelines and let curiosity reign, we can pay attention to who we are in conversation with and who is calling the shots.

Is it the voice of fear, doubt, or anxiety (the inner-critic—the judge’s boss)? Or is it the voice of wisdom, courage, strength, and non-attachment, and of course curiosity (the inner-leader)?

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We can easily tell the difference by how each makes us feel. The inner-critic depletes and slows us down, putting roadblocks in the way. The inner-leader energizes and a natural rhythm develops.

It’s all about who we spend time with. If we wish to exercise, we will seek out our friends who go to the gym or hike. If we want to lose some weight, we will opt to eat dinner with someone who prefers a healthy spot over fast food.

After getting curious, we can honor what our curiosity prompts us to do. The spark can do its job and a fire starts to glow when commitment enters. Our childhood selves were fully committed to being creative. That level of commitment is still something we are very capable of exercising!!

Again, we need to let go of the judge. We can ask ourselves, what do we want to commit to—negativity that depletes our creative energy, depth, and output, or the understanding that our thoughts and attitudes matter and that right thoughts and attitudes are the sparks that really let our creativity come alive?

Learn to Recall Your Childhood Self

To get in touch with that unabashedly committed childhood self, recall your childhood self. If you have a picture, pull one out. Keep it around so you can remember to activate that innate creative nature that was prominent then and wants to be prominent now and always.

Soak in the essence of that being. Commit to their commitment to brave and dogged trial and error because it is yours as well. You are that person.

Remember how tenacious you were when you wanted to build that sandcastle. You kept at it as the waves came in. You built with fury or reconfigured the walls. Also, remember that there was a willingness to fail since you were as invested in the process as well as the outcome—but less with the outcome. You were willing to experiment and start again. There was vitality—the main lifeline of your creative energy—instead of a rigid attachment.

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When you notice you are in conversation with your inner-critic or being held back by it, simply acknowledge, name it, and then switch to your inner-leader by taking a few good deep belly breaths, rubbing two fingertips together, or listening to ambient sounds in the background.

Physical movements shift our negative thoughts over to the positive domain of the inner-leader. As our judge continues to sit on the sidelines, our ability to quiet the inner-critic becomes stronger. We taste freedom. A simple taste emboldens us to say no again to the judge and yes to what makes our hearts and spirits sing—our creativity.

We begin to spark creativity to the point it no longer needs to be invited to play. It becomes our regular playmate—the younger sibling or the kid next door ready to have some fun, maybe even make some mischief by shaking things up.

When we align with our inner-leader and think and act from its promptings, creativity flows up and out with ease, as it needs to!

Letting those initial sparks generate a creativity fire that keeps burning is something we can all do! That’s the inside job.

2. Listen to Your Inner Leaders of Creative Energy

If we listen, our inner-leaders will let us know just what we need to set-up and do in our physical world to maximize that gorgeous, hungry creativity we now have flowing freely in us.

The seed has been unlocked! So, now what?

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To enable our creative energy to take its form and place outside of us, there needs to be spaciousness! Spaciousness in our physical worlds impacts our internal one. It lets the voice of the inner-leader be heard. It lets creativity have room to be sparked and acted upon.

With a little discipline, we can easily create spaciousness in our daily lives—spaciousness that will spark our creativity and let it take shape.

So, no matter who you are and what conditions help your creativity thrive, check-out these easy-to-implement basic suggestions:

  • Reduce or eliminate multi-tasking.
  • Say yes to what matters and what aligns with your big values and goals.
  • Say no to all else.
  • Say no again.
  • Schedule time in your calendar as you do with other things in your life to just be, to ponder, to let ideas percolate, and to create.
  • Spend time doing the things that bring out your creative energy. It could be walking, singing, or simply looking out the window.
  • Meditate.
  • Breathe—long breaths in and long breaths out through the nose.
  • Invite your body and heart into your experiences so your mind is a part of you and not all of you.
  • Try a new thing to spark your creativity. If you spend time running, try a different route. If running feels stale, cruise around a museum, or go for a bike ride.
  • Play a game. Indoors out or outside. Think of what makes you happy that you haven’t done in a while. Is it a physical game like badminton or cards? Maybe it’s storytelling? Play is creative, and it sparks the creative energy, too.
  • Spend time in the places that bring out your creativity. What spot in your home could be your spot for entering into that mode? Do you need to get out? Maybe a park bench is the right spot, with a book of poetry, or even nothing at all.
  • Spend time in nature. Nature brings us to a place of calm and awe and through that our creativity is easily sparked.

Final Thoughts

These are all habits—habits of mind and habits of doing. Experiment with what works for you. Have fun. If you give even 50% to altering your thoughts and actions, then you will begin to spark your creativity. It takes a lot of curiosity and commitment, but it can definitely be done.

Our innate creative energy is a deep source of all that we seek—joy, connection, renewal. It deserves and looks forward to the changes you will make that will let sparks fly and ignite!

More Tips to Spark Your Creative Energy

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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