Advertising
Advertising

Is It Time For a Time Management Upgrade?

Is It Time For a Time Management Upgrade?

    Most of us think of time management skills as something that we happen to have, and others desperately need. It’s easy to do so when we believe that a lifetime of learning can be contained in a single lesson that we happen to have learned. But are we as good at managing our time as we think ourselves to be?

    There are a number of events that happen in our lives that indicate that our current system isn’t working. Some of the indicators may include repeatedly being late to appointments and handing in assignments after their due dates.

    Advertising

    However, there are some that are more subtle, and a few that we tend to mistake. In most cases, they are accompanied by the same “fantastic” thought: “I’d be able to do this if I only had enough time.”

    Subtle Signals

    1. Being overweight — Many of our complaints about carrying too much weight are related to time. We either “don’t have the time” to exercise, or even figure out the right foods to buy. “If I only had more time, I’d be able to lose that weight.”

    2. Having lots of email in our Inbox — We blame the fact that we have lots of messages in our Inbox waiting for us to process on a lack of time. “If I only had more time, I’d be able to go handle all the waiting messages.”

    Advertising

    3. Clutter — Our office is a mess (or maybe our garage, attic, basement, car, closet, yard, etc.) and we sometimes get embarrassed when other people notice. “If I only had more time, I could clean this place up.”

    4. Commitments fall through the cracks — Stuff that we quietly tell ourselves that we need to do, simply doesn’t happen. It gets forgotten, and we only remember after the fact, when it’s too late, that we have broken a promise we made to ourselves. “If only I had more time, nothing would ever be forgotten, or slip through the cracks.”

    5. Others are upset because we don’t stay in touch — We try to spend enough time with family and friends, but can never seem to find the time to give them the personal attention that we believe we should. “If I only had more time, I’d have more quality moments with people I care about.”

    Advertising

    6. We are stressed — We try to take time away from work, but we are “always on” because we don’t want to get in trouble. We take work with us on vacations, weekends, holidays and sick days with the help of my laptop or smartphone. “If I only had more time, I’d be able to take the hours needed to de-stress.”

    False Indicators

    At the same time, there are some false indicators of time management problems. They are sometimes used as “proof” that an issue exists, when in fact it’s not true:

    False Indicator #1 – An accusation: “You are taking too long to respond to email.” The only person who can determine that an email response should have been sent earlier is the recipient. Those who pressure others to reply to their email earlier should use a different method to communicate in urgent circumstances

    Advertising

    False Indicator #2 – Another accusation: “You don’t answer the phone every time it rings.” Answering the phone and interrupting what you’re doing is a past practice that’s not suitable for the smartphone era and its hundreds of daily messages.

    Conclusion

    Times change, and so do the indicators of positive and negative productivity. It’s important that we pay close attention to our personal systems in order to be effective in an age of fast changing technology. When we are aware of signals that indicate poor time management, we can then take measures to correct the situation.

      More by this author

      Francis Wade

      Author, Management Consultant

      The New Lifehacking #7 – Why You Should Be Open to New Stuff, But Wary About Using It How To Manage A Post-College Productivity Dip Why You Need to Understand and Accept Your Productive Type A Tendencies The New LifeHacking #6 – Staying Away from Harmful Gadgets The New Lifehacking #5 – Tricking Yourself into Making the Changes You Need

      Trending in Lifehack

      1 I’m Feeling Bored: 10 Ways to Conquer Boredom (and Busyness) 2 What Is Speed Reading and How to Successfully Learn It 3 9 Powerful Questions That Can Improve Your Quality of Life 4 Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Overcome It) 5 How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

      Read Next

      Advertising
      Advertising
      Advertising

      Last Updated on November 18, 2020

      I’m Feeling Bored: 10 Ways to Conquer Boredom (and Busyness)

      I’m Feeling Bored: 10 Ways to Conquer Boredom (and Busyness)

      If you’re saying “I’m feeling bored,” it’s important to realize that boredom and feeling too busy are the same problem. Some people claim I’m being too ambitious trying to strike down chronic boredom and busyness at the same time. I’d argue that the only way to take them out is simultaneously.

      The problem stems from how you manage your attention. Both boredom and busyness stem from feeling there is a lack of quality in how you focus your attention.

      Boredom is feeling that there are too few high-quality ways to spend attention. Busyness is forced boredom. This means that you feel there are high quality ways to spend attention, but your attention is being stolen from you before you can use it.

      I’m Feeling Bored: It’s in Your Mind

      Feelings of boredom and busyness are subjective. You can’t look out in the world and claim it is busy or boring. To say these feelings are subjective is obvious, but that misses a key point. The real problem is quality.

      Being engaged, neither busy or bored, happens when your attention is focused on high-quality activities.

      You can probably remember times when you were completely engaged. This could have been working on a project you were passionate about, spending time with your family, sky diving or vacationing under the sun. Why were you engaged in these moments and not in others?

      A likely reason was because those experiences had a higher quality. They allowed you to enter into an immersive flow state, in which your entire consciousness was devoted to the activity.[1]

      In the best cases your entire reality revolves around what you are doing. You’ll understand what I mean if you’ve read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (which, I must admit, inspired most of these ideas).

      Advertising

      Improving the Quality of Your Activities

      So how do you improve quality in your experiences when you’re saying “I’m feeling bored”? I believe there are two major ways you can do it: externally and internally. If you are chronically busy (and actively disliking the busyness) or bored, then you’ll need to tackle external and internal factors that contribute to these negative feelings.

      Here are some ways to consider improving quality in your experiences:

      Externally

      1. Plan Ahead

      Schedule your life to ensure there aren’t huge gaps or work overflows later. This can mean scheduling high-quality experiences if you find yourself frequently bored. It can also mean dividing large projects if you find yourself chronically busy.

      • Plan weekend activities for next month now. This not only gives you something to look forward to, but it also forces you to stay productive instead of just busy.
      • Map out what is placing demands on your time. Can you consolidate all your “busy work” (such as responding to emails) into one block of time instead of allowing it to cause constant interruptions in your day?

      2. Win-Win

      If you must perform an activity you think has low quality, you’re going to feel bored. Find ways to reorganize your life so that jobs, chores, and duties can become interesting, high-quality experiences.

      Turn mind-numbing chores into opportunities for growth and learning. For example, listen to an audio book or lecture on the commute to work or while you’re cleaning your house.

      3. Prioritize

      If you don’t manage time, you’ll never have enough of it. There are always more things to do than you have time for. Get your values straight so that the highest priorities are handled first and your life doesn’t get overtaken by the unimportant.

      Set a vision for your life, and determine how everything you do either contributes or detracts from that vision. Chances are, the things that don’t align with your vision are some of the same things that bore you. After you identify low-priority activities, you can try to make them more meaningful, or you can find ways to eliminate them.

      4. Put Quality of Experience First

      It is easy to get caught up in external goals that don’t fulfill their promises. Focus on goals that will give you a greater quality, not just a bigger paycheck or more status to brag about.

      Advertising

      Set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) goals that align with your life’s vision.[2]

      5. Escape the Motions

      Habits are a part of your life, but don’t let them become the only thing. Break out of your patterns if they aren’t giving you what you need. Instead of staying in, go out and meet new people on a Friday night. Just do something to get away from doing the same old thing.

      Schedule times to break from your routines. I thrive on having a routine most days, but I also give myself opportunities to break from sameness.

      Say “yes” to trying something new. Nothing spices up your day like trying something new.

      Internally

      Most of the ways to improve your quality of experience and conquer boredom are internal. Remember, it’s not just what you do, but also how you do it.

      1. Build an Inner World

      I’m not suggesting you create a complete rift between yourself and reality when you find yourself thinking “I’m feeling bored,” but also realize that if you can’t find quality in your immediate surroundings, you can find it within yourself.

      Solving internal problems, reviewing knowledge, coming up with new ideas, creating stories, or even planning for the future are all areas you can explore in the mind without any external stimuli.

      Use “boring” moments as opportunities to brainstorm. It’s a lot easier to cope with a humdrum reality if you’re able to use the time to explore possibilities within your mind.

      Advertising

      If you’re really at a loss, you can imagine a story about 2-3 of the people and objects in your vicinity. This is a great way to exercise your creativity and sharpen your observation skills.

      2. Seek Quality in the Now

      Try starting small with some simple questions. What are you doing right now? What can you find that has value for you? Seeking quality right now allows you to find it even if your environment is bare or overloaded.

      Activities like waiting in line can be turned into moments of self-reflection or times to remind yourself of your vision.

      3. Don’t Resist

      Busyness and boredom could also be described as symptoms of resisting what is. Fully accepting whatever situation you are in and making the most of it is one way to conquer feeling bored.

      Resistance is something that can’t be done half-way. Either completely push away and seek quality elsewhere, or accept your surroundings and find it here.

      4. Unchain Yourself

      A lot of mental unease is caused because you feel forced to do something. You have to go to work, study for your test, do this or that. Realize that you don’t have to do anything, just accept different results. Freedom is in your mind.

      Weigh whether the activity causing your discomfort is essential or expendable. For example, paying your bills is non-negotiable, but you can opt to live a more modest lifestyle or actively search for a job you enjoy.

      Use a mantra to remind yourself of your freedom. “I am free” and “I have the power to change my circumstances” can reinforce the notion that you have choices.

      Advertising

      5. Stop

      Boredom and feeling overloaded are both patterns. They are mental spirals you run on yourself that loop back on each other. If you just interrupt yourself for a few minutes and think more deeply about the problem, you can often come up with a good answer independent of these suggestions.

      Meditate your way out of boredom. Sometimes boredom and busyness are caused by feeling disconnected from what you are doing. Use meditation to ground yourself in the present.

      You can learn how to meditate here.

      Take up a gratitude practice. Whenever you’re feeling too bored or too busy, stop to think about all the things that are going well. Being able to simply say, “I got out of bed this morning,” and “I have food to eat,” help you take stock of your blessings.

      The Bottom Line

      As boredom and busyness arise from the same source, the same strategies can be used to tackle them and find a sweet spot of a balanced mindset. Find high-quality activities when you start saying “I’m feeling bored,” and you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can turn things around.

      More Tips on Tackling Boredom

      Featured photo credit: Siddharth Bhogra via unsplash.com

      Reference

      Read Next