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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 May 21, 2019

    How to Be More Creative and Come up with Incredible Ideas

    How to Be More Creative and Come up with Incredible Ideas

    Regardless of how creative you already consider yourself to be, there’s a good chance you would like to level up your creative abilities.

    You might want to write a better song, think of better solutions to problems at work or around the home or maybe paint a picture.

    In any case, the good news is that creativity is not born: it’s made, and each one of us has the potential to be more creative and come up with incredible ideas.

    “Creativity is any act, idea, or product that changes an existing domain, or that transforms an existing domain into a new one.” — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

    The definition of creativity is broad, and reminds us that creativity is not limited to artists or musicians. It does however require that we have some kind of impact on the domain in which we create.

    Creativity also emphasizes values.

    “The process of having original ideas that have value” — Ken Robinson

    This makes up for what Csikszentmihalyi misses out. For instance, we can make a change in the world without adding significant value. Any destructive act, like smashing a window, creates change, but it doesn’t necessarily create valuable change.

    In short, there isn’t one single definition of creativity It’s up to us to find a definition that feels true and useful. When you know what your standard is, It’s much easier to embrace creativity and start to cultivate it.

    And in this article, you will learn how to be more creative and take a good look at what goes into the creative skill:

    1. Cultivate Focus

    In order to create, there needs to be a focus on creating something, whether it’s a song, a theory, a product, or a sculpture.

    You could also call this “drive” – it’s the initial spark that drives the solution to a problem, or the will to get on your laptop and start typing.

    However, it’s worth noting there are different stages to the creative process: the divergent stage and the convergent stage.

    In the divergent stage, we want a broad focus – we want to be willing to let in lots of different inputs, ideas and insights. This is the time for brainstorming all possible ideas and solutions.

    In the convergent stage, we start to narrow our focus, like a camera lens. At this stage, we start to drill down to a handful of ideas or solutions, discriminating throughout the process.

    How to cultivate focus?

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    Take a 20 Minute Walk

    Walking away and getting your heart rate up is the best free tool you have in regaining your focus.

    I know it might seem counterintuitive to take a break right when you’re at your busiest, and especially when you’re drowning in your massive to do list, but the effects it will have on your clarity and ability to focus are undeniable.

    Walking is physiologically proven to release stress, and clear your mind. In fact, most of my most brilliant ideas (and some pretty terrible ones too) have occurred on my daily walks.

    If you give this technique a try, what you’ll find is that you’re much more productive than you were before you took a breather.

    Over time, if you do these walks daily, you’ll quickly find that your to-do list starts to feel a lot less significant, and a lot more doable. It’s all about keeping razor focused, and that’s what short daily walks will gift you.

    2. Build a Structure

    When I wake up in the morning, I start the day with a structure in mind. I know that 15 minutes will be dedicated to meditation, 30 minutes to coffee and reading, 20 minutes to yoga and so on.

    The structure of this morning routine might be boring, but the act of each task in itself has the potential to be, on some level, “creative.”

    The point of structure is that it gives you the space to make time for something you want to do. It helps you carve out the time to do your creative work. Once you begin that thing in itself, you are free to go about it however you’d like.

    Without structure, we can lose focus and can feel overwhelmed with possibility. If you’ve ever looked at a blank page and felt too overwhelmed with possibility to make a mark on it, you’ll know what I mean. How much easier it gets when you are given some guidelines or a deadline?

    The trick is finding the right amount of structure for you and your creative needs. Too little structure and we feel overwhelmed. Too much structure, and we risk feeling limited and stifled.

    Again, it’s worth thinking about creating in those two stages: divergent (less structure) and convergent (more structure.)

    How to build a structure?

    Create a Morning Routine

    Your morning routine doesn’t have to be rigid or so arduous you dread waking up. In fact, it should feel like the opposite. When you get a routine that works for you, you’ll look forward to starting the day.

    We all have different needs and preferences which can shape our ideal routine. In the book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey, you can be inspired over 160 different creators’ daily routines, from Charles Darwin to Pablo Picasso.

    Experiment with any that take your fancy, and see how you feel with a bit more structure to start your day.

    You can also take a look at this article about morning routine for inspirations: The Ultimate Morning Routine to Make You Happy And Productive All Day

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    3. Find Motivation

    There is a theory that suggests: people will be most creative when they feel motivated primarily by the interest, satisfaction, and challenge of the work itself — not by external pressures. This is also known as intrinsic motivation; a drive that comes from within.

    Think of a time when you did some of your best work — chances are you were totally absorbed in what you were doing, to the exclusion of everything else. You were completely focused on the work itself, barely noticing time flying by.

    Now think of a time when you felt under pressure to perform. Maybe it was an exam, or a commission for an important client, or maybe your boss had told you “there’s a lot riding on this.”

    Notice the difference? In the first memory, you were driven by intrinsic motivation, which made it relatively easy, even enjoyable, to be highly creative.

    In the second memory however, extrinsic motivation was breathing down your neck, distracting you by whispering about the rewards for success and the horrible consequences of failure: likely making it harder to focus on the task at hand.

    For this reason, intrinsic motivation, if you can find it, is what separates the good from great creative work.

    This isn’t to say only internal motivators help. I personally get motivated by luring myself to work with a good cappuccino at my favourite cafe. That will get me ready to write or edit or whatever I’ve been avoiding.

    How to find motivation?

    Connect to Your “Why”

    Your “Why” is your fuel: the thing that drives you forward, that gives you a reason to do what you’re doing.

    ‘He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.’ — Friedrich Nietzche

    When you have a reason to do something, a purpose or a goal that matters to you, you can connect your daily actions to it. Then, each act becomes infused with meaning and you find that intrinsic motivation comes naturally.

    The trick is to remember your “why” and connect with it on a regular basis.

    Think about how you want to feel on a daily basis. What would you like to accomplish in the next year? What would you like for yourself in the next five years? How about in your lifetime?

    Ultimately, the tasks you face on a daily basis, or at least some of them, will connect to a greater purpose if you follow this path and you will find you feel more motivated to create and less resistance.

    If you aren’t sure where to start looking for motivation, this will help: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

    4. Be an Expert in a Chosen Domain

    Research has shown that just as expertise in one domain does not predict expertise in other unrelated domains; creativity in one domain does not predict creativity in other unrelated domains.[1]

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    So just because you can paint a pretty picture, doesn’t mean you can creatively solve a mathematical problem.

    If you’ve taken one of those tests like the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking, which will ask you to think of a bazillion uses for a pencil, and scored well, unfortunately this is only an indicator of divergent thinking skills. It is not a predictor for creativity all round.

    The good news is, you can train your creativity in your chosen domain. Much like a muscle, you can isolate exercises to strengthen it.

    Of course you can still do a total body workout – or atotal creativity workout – but it means your creativity-training exercises need to come from a wide variety of domains; not just thinking up uses for a pencil.

    How to become an expert?

    Make a Mastery Training Plan

    Following our physical workout analogy, it’s worth applying the habits of great athletes to your chosen creative domain. For example:

    1. Decide what area/s you want to work on

    Much like a tennis player who decides they need to improve their serving technique, you can decide what area within your creative domain you want to improve at. Get specific.

    2. Decide how much time you can dedicate

    Most of us don’t have all day to train like a pro tennis player might, but you can likely squeeze 20 to 30 minutes in a day, if you want to. Whatever the time you can allow is, decide to dedicate yourself to it.

    3. Review your progress

    Finally, in order to check your progress, you can take regular reviews. Decide what your metrics are, and take time each week to check in with yourself.

    How many days did you practice? How did you compare to the previous week? This kind of review can help you stay on track, and actually creates more intrinsic motivation as you see yourself develop.

    5. Create a Conducive Environment

    A psychologist in 1943 proposed that behaviour is:[2]

    “a function of both the person as well as the physical environment they are in.”

    I would suggest that the act of creating is a behaviour and that, even though it begins as an internal process, it’s very much affected by and even dependent on the environment we are in.

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    I started noticing how environment affects me when I worked in an office. Over time, I realized that the more people who were in or who were talking, the more distracted I was. If I got to the office early before my coworkers arrived, I was twice as effective.

    I was even more effective if I was at home. Now that I work from home, I know I’m even more effective when in certain coffee shops. Ideally, places that have high ceilings, gentle lighting, some barely noticeable background music – and excellent coffee.

    It’s these little variations in our environment that can really shape our creative output.

    If you’re an introvert, you probably do your best work alone. If you’re an extrovert, you probably do your best work in the company of others.

    This isn’t to say you should find one way of doing things and stick to it: in fact, varying your environment from time to time is a great way to stoke the creative fire too, which we’ll touch on more later.

    How to create a conducive environment?

    Add or Subtract Stimuli

    Novelty in our environment has been shown to stimulate the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that increases our desire to seek out reward.[3]

    If you’re looking for creative motivation, adding some novelty into your environment can be just what you need.

    On the other hand, some people are highly sensitive and when it comes to having too much stimulation in their environment, they find it difficult to focus.

    Experiment with working in different environments. Note how you feel. Note whether you do better creative work or have more interesting ideas when you’re alone or with others.

    Try listening to music, people chatting or try being in complete silence. Try a dimly lit room, try working in bright sunlight.

    In each case, note how you feel before, during and afterwards and rate the quality of your work.

    The Bottom Line

    Creativity is not one particular skill or talent one can have. It comes in as many broad and unique flavors as there are people on this earth.

    To be more creative, take little steps each day. Acknowledge where and when you feel most inspired, motivated and original and spend more energy in those areas.

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    Featured photo credit: Sticker Mule via unsplash.com

    Reference

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