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Simple Steps on Handling Tasks

Simple Steps on Handling Tasks

Fast handling of things has been the talk of the various categories of the work force for years and years. The basis of fast handling of tasks is time and mind management. It really boils down to these 2 major resources that we all have but tend to over (or under) use. The technique we will discuss here is how manage your time against your mind’s concentration in 5 simple steps:

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  1. Draw a To-Do list with your tasks numbered in priority, importance, and scheduled dates and times of completion. Once a thing comes up (and mind you, “comes up” means “once it appears in the queue of things you have to do”, and not when it explodes as a problem!): When something comes up, there are a few simple steps you should follow in order to maintain rhythm with all your other things.
  2. Assess the importance of the new task (against all others in your list). In other words, you must evaluate whether or not this new task:
    • Is more urging than others on the list
    • Has more potential damage/harm if not done/handled before a specific time.
    • Dependant on other tasks on the list? If other dependant tasks are not on the list and they’re your responsibility, then add them; otherwise, add a task to follow up on whoever has to take care of the dependant tasks to yours.
  3. Insert the new task (and their dependencies or follow-ups on dependencies) into their correct (or most appropriate) priority order on your To-Do list.
  4. Periodically Examine/Review your To-Do list. This is a must do issue every pre-set period of time proportional to the average length of tasks. For instance if your tasks are days and weeks long, then your review should be conducted every other day or every day. On the other hand, the review should be done every 2-3 hours if the tasks are within the minutes or hours (maximum 1 day) range.
    Be careful not to overwhelm yourself with review sessions and finally waste your time. During the review session, examine which tasks have ended on time, which tasks are running late and which tasks seem to have problems in them. Whilst reviewing, re-arrange your priorities or resources accordingly to manage the lag in some projects/tasks (e.g. you might call in someone for help on something) or you may delay some other tasks to handle more urging ones. Such important decisions are a must make and take in order to constantly maintain order in your To-Do list and hence the system of your day and life.
  5. For tasks of priority 1 (and high concentration), do not perform multi-tasking.
    This is an issue that one must handle as he/she goes along. For top priority tasks that need 100% of your concentration, like writing a business proposal or talking to your manager, DO NOT multi-task. Multitasking will not only immensely delay your schedule but will result in the original task taking ages and not getting done in half the quality it could have been done in.

    For other less important (but still on the list) tasks, you might as well multi-task. For instance, you have to prepare lunch and listen to the news. Then do both at the same time! Switch on the television in the kitchen and prepare lunch. Wherever there are timers on steps in the food preparation process, DO put them on and switch on their alarms – so those will alert you in case you were slightly distracted watching TV.

Following the five simple steps will not only make you get your things done, but also you’ll have the time to spend on yourself and for relaxation purposes rather than always running out of time. You know what? You might as well add the time you need to relax on your list, so you can work towards fulfilling it as well.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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