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10 Things You Haven’t Tried For Productive Time Management

10 Things You Haven’t Tried For Productive Time Management

“Lost time is never found again.” Benjamin Franklin

Time is one of our most precious tools in life. It is so important that time is being compared with life; wasting time, is equal to wasting life.

People who accomplish a lot in life are often people who manage their time and tasks effectively and intelligently. Without time management and scheduling, we tend to waste a lot of time on unproductive tasks and projects and we realize this when it is too late.

Therefore in order to take control over our life and achieve our goals, we need to have a proper schedule and time management.

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Office Clocks Showing Different Times

    Below are simple steps that can help you plan and implement tasks more effectively:

    1. Write Down Your Tasks

    It is recommended to have a daily worksheet in which you can record all the tasks for the day. Writing down the tasks not only gives you clarity on the work that needs to be done, but also helps you to organize your time better.

    If there are free slots in your worksheet in any specific day, you can fill in the gaps with your unfinished work or what you need to accomplish on the following days. You can also allocate such moments for educational or self-improving activities to help you gain more skills. In this way all your moments everyday will become fruitful and no time will get wasted in between.

    2. Prioritize Tasks Based on Importance

    Prioritizing gives you the ability to categorize tasks. Often we invest time in on doing things that are not important and miss out on the important ones. By prioritizing you will know which tasks need to be done first. Even if you don’t get a chance to finish all the work planned, at least you have accomplished what is important and urgent.

    Sometimes not focusing on unessential tasks gives you better ability to focus on the important ones. This is called one-pointedness. Remove the unnecessary and focus on the essential!

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    3. Give Each Task a Proper Deadline

    Without deadlines, we often take our sweet time in doing things. Deadlines give you purpose and emotional drive to finish what you start.

    We all have experienced when the deadline is near, we become more alert, fast and focused to deliver the task as promised. Therefore in order to finish your tasks more effectively, give them a deadline. This will make sure you finish them as expected. Just remember to give your tasks a realistic deadline. If you set a deadline which is not realistic and impossible to meet, you will be disappointed after a while and deadlines will not mean anything to you anymore.

    4. Group Tasks Together

    In order to increase your productivity it is recommended to group similar tasks together and attend to them simultaneously or one after the other. This will save lot of time which is usually spent to understand and analyze the tasks, and get in the mood to start and complete them.

    5. Practice Punctuality

    Punctuality comes from responsibility. If you work on your punctuality not only can you project a better picture of yourself which gives you more confidence, but also save time that you need to explain and convince others and apologize for being late.

    6. Start Your Day With the Most Difficult Tasks

    This might be a bit funny but it works. After scheduling and prioritizing your tasks, start your day by doing the most difficult ones first. Often people tend to start the day by checking emails, checking Facebook and doing stuff that it is not important and difficult. In this scenario, the most difficult tasks are being done last because it takes so much emotional will and effort to start them. However, this strategy does not work well because, the difficult tasks will be attended when the body and the mind are tired. Therefore the possibility of making mistakes or prolonging the work will increase.

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    On the other hand, if the most difficult tasks are done in the beginning of the day, they can be completed faster and with less effort and mistakes; since you are fresh and your ability to focus is higher. The easier and less important tasks, which do not take much effort and concentration, can be done later.

    7. Give Music to Solo Tasks

    Music here is being used as a kind of metronome to keep track of time. Especially for the regular daily jobs that you need to repeat everyday, music can help you manage your time better. After a while you get so familiar with the music and its various sections, that you will know when to speed up or when to accomplish each section. Furthermore, this will give you the ability to choose a piece of music that fits with the nature of your job, which can help you increase your productivity and get into the mood.

    8. Plan Work Breaks Into Your Schedule

    Everybody needs breaks. Your body and mind need a break in order to enable them to retain energy. Your brain needs regular breaks to process, categorize and store information. No one can work continuously without any breaks and keep up his or her productivity at optimum level all the time. Breaks are needed, but what you can do is to schedule your breaks.

    After each difficult and time-consuming task, give yourself a break to rest the brain, calm your emotions and retain concentration. After a few days or weeks of continuous work, you also need a break to rest and recharge. This will give you more energy and stamina for upcoming projects.

    9. Keep Yourself Emotionally Strong

    Often when people are not sad, depressed or unsatisfied, their productivity decreases tremendously. It is therefore highly important to keep emotionally strong and determined. This is when passion comes into play. Many successful people recommend you to do the work that you love so you can keep our emotional will at optimum level.

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    Without emotional stamina and enthusiasm, your productivity decreases and in this case even a simple task might take a very long time. Passion and determination help you to move forward and stay focused even in the midst of difficult situations and crises.

    10. Learn to Say No

    You must pay attention to your limits. You cannot do everything that you are asked to, especially if it is not in line with your goal. You always have a choice to say NO! Often multitasking makes you stupid!

    In family life as well as in your professional life, you need to refuse to accept tasks and responsibilities that are beyond your capabilities and do not help in achieving your targets. Taking more than what you can handle normally causes a lot of stress, which affects your most important tasks too.

    Learn to say NO! Promises easily given are often not kept. Think about the consequences of accepting new projects or tasks. Think if they are in line with your specialty and your target. Think if you are capable and trained to do them. Then accept!

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    Last Updated on July 17, 2019

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    What happens in our heads when we set goals?

    Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

    Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

    According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

    Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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    Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

    Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

    The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

    Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

    So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

    Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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    One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

    Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

    Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

    The Neurology of Ownership

    Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

    In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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    But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

    This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

    Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

    The Upshot for Goal-Setters

    So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

    On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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    It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

    On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

    But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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    Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

    Reference

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