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24 Hours Not Enough? 10 Tips Of Time Management To Make Every Day Count

24 Hours Not Enough? 10 Tips Of Time Management To Make Every Day Count

Whether you are a career driven professional, a small business owner or a busy single parent, every single individual is bound by the restriction of time. Although each of these individuals has a variable range of tasks that require completion, for example, they face similar challenges and must effectively manage their time if they are to achieve success. Many struggle to achieve this, however, and there is one fundamental reason for this. More specifically,

people fail to discern between clock time and real time, as while the former relates to the exact amount of seconds, minutes and hours in each day, the latter is relative and can be impacted by the type of activity you are undertaking and your approach to completing it. Time

    Understanding this point provides a foundation for effectively managing your time, while also enabling you to become more productive as a result. With this in mind, consider the following steps for building on this foundation and making the most of every day:

    1. Develop a Suitable Sleeping Pattern

    The key to daily productivity starts the night before, as a suitable pattern of sleep sets the tone for a productive day. According to clinical psychologist Stephanie Silberman Ph.D, the best way to achieve this is to shift your sleep cycle in fifteen minute increments to determine a viable routine that can be easily sustained. So if you would like to get up earlier without encountering feelings of fatigue, begin to wake up fifteen minutes earlier for a 3-4 day period to ensure that your body adjusts effectively. You can then repeat this cycle until you are comfortable and have developed a sleep cycle that enables you to begin the day at the optimum time.

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    2. Accomplish Tasks that are Physically Near to One Another

    Once you have risen and are preparing for the day ahead, you can save time by completing tasks in a logical manner that prioritizes location. If you are preparing breakfast in the kitchen, for example, you should identify any additional tasks that require your attention in that area before moving on. If you are able to complete a high volume of tasks in a single location and within a specified period of time, you can create a more efficient schedule that is focused on accomplishing goals rather than travelling from place to place and retracing your steps repeatedly. Although this may require a change in outlook, it will ensure that you are more productive in terms of direct action.

    3. Consider the Benefits of Commuting

    Multi-tasking is often considered to be the benchmark of productivity, but people are often too ambitious in their approach and tend to compromise on quality rather than quantity. It is therefore important to be more selective when multi-tasking, in order to strike the ideal balance between accomplishing goals and maintaining an excellent standard of output. If you were to choose to commute to work using public transport rather than drive in, for example, you are effectively creating additional time to complete tasks rather than being forced to hastily scan emails before you jump in the car and set-off. Professionals can spend as much as 10% of their working day travelling to and from the office, so commuting offers a unique opportunity to spend this as productively as possible.

    4. Eat a Balanced and Healthy Lunch

    The food that you eat is also a crucial consideration, whether you are planning a mid-morning snack or lunch. Food habits are easily compromised when we have a busy schedule, as we are inclined to grab a sugar-laden snack or a fast-food lunch to provide a quick and unsustainable burst of energy. Not only does the productive use of time rely on your ability to spread your calorie intake evenly throughout the course of the day, but it is also necessary to ensure that you eat just the right amount at lunchtime. Women need an estimated 400-600 calories for lunch if they are to remain productive throughout the course of a working day, with meals low in carbohydrates and high in fiber (such as wholemeal bread, fruit and vegetables) the ideal options. If you are in need of an afternoon snack, consider slow-release energy food items such as bananas or avocado.

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    5. Take A 20-Min Power Nap After Lunch

    During the most stressful times of her premiership, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was renowned for forgoing sleep in order to retain control of her government. So instead of heading to bed for 6-8 hours of uninterrupted rest, she instead took regular, 20 minute naps to treat sleep deprivation and recharge her brain. Taking a short power nap after lunch is in fact a scientifically proven technique that helps to provide a burst of alertness and increased motor performance when it is most required, which in turns means that you become more productive over the course of an entire day without the need for artificial stimulants such as caffeine.

    6. Take Regular Breaks from the Computer Screen or when Focusing

    As the day progresses, you may well find yourself becoming irritable or lacking in focus. This is because excessive reading, driving or staring at a computer screen can cause significant eye fatigue, which may ultimately cause long-term sensitivity to light and pain in the neck, shoulders or back. In the short-term it can prevent you from completing tasks in a productive and time-effective manner, so it is important to take regular breaks wherever possible. Given that eye fatigue impacts on an estimated 50-90% of all computer workers, these individuals can also safeguard themselves and their schedule by creating a work space where their screen is positioned at least 20 inches away from their gaze.

    7. Vizualise an Outcome and Remain Focused on Goal Accomplishment

    On the topic of focus, it can be increasingly difficult to accomplish tasks and projects as the day draws to a close. This is not only the result of mental fatigue, however, as distractions often serve as alerts that implore us as individuals to orient our attention elsewhere. According to David Rock, a co-founder of the Neuro Leadership Institute, the human brain is finely-tuned to distraction and reacts in an automatic and virtually unstoppable manner when attention is diverted. Being aware of this can at least help you to remain as focused as possible on individual goal accomplishment, as can visualizing an outcome and the satisfaction that this will bring.

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    8. Embrace Technology to Boost Productivity in the Evening

    Technological advancement has been kind to the working man, as it has triggered a series of innovations that aid productivity and help to alleviate hectic schedules. If you are an entrepreneurial individual who combines a full-time, 9-5 job role with the management of a for-profit blog once you have returned home, for example, you can choose from a vast selection of WordPress hosting sites to help keep your content secure and provide automated updates regarding plugins and new themes. By exploring technology and integrating selected innovations into your everyday schedule, you automate multiple processes and save considerable amounts of time.

    9. Get Active and Exercise in the Evenings

    With all work and professional tasks completed for the day, you can finally enjoy some time to relax, unwind and undertake personal chores around the home. This may also provide you with an ideal opportunity to exercise, however, as cardiovascular activity that is conducted in the evening is rumored to improve your physical performance, create a more alert mental state and negate the desire to snack and lose focus on any additional tasks that requires completion before you go to bed. Evening exercise is also considered to be less rushed than morning work-outs, which means that you can make the most of your time and enjoy a more beneficial physical regime over a concerted period of time.

    10. Set a Calm and Soothing Alarm

    For individuals who find it difficult to wake naturally in the morning, it is tempting to invest in the loudest and most obnoxious alarm imaginable. This is simply unnecessary, while it is also important to note that waking up suddenly from your sleep does little to improve your level of mental awareness or enthusiasm for the day ahead. Instead, you can rely on your natural circadian rhythms and other environmental signals to guarantee a more peaceful start to the day, aided by soothing sounds from the rain forest or a wake-up light that grows brighter and gradually increases the light level in the room in stages.

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    Featured photo credit: Becoscky / Flickr via flickr.com

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    Last Updated on December 9, 2019

    7 Techniques to Stay Focused and Avoid Distractions

    7 Techniques to Stay Focused and Avoid Distractions

    The world has become a very distracting place, you don’t need me to tell you that. Where once we could walk out of our house or office and disappear into our own world with our own thoughts, we are now connected 24 hours a day to a network that’s sole purpose is to make us available to anyone and everyone at any time they choose to disturb us.

    Of course, it is very easy to sit here and say all you have to do is turn off your electronic devices and just allow yourself several hours of quiet solitude; but the reality is far harder than that. There is an expectation that we are available for anyone whenever they want us.

    However, if you do want to elevate yourself and perform at your best every day, to produce work of a higher quality than anyone expects and to regain control over what you do and when you will need to regain some control over your time, so you can focus on producing work that matters to you…

    The good news: You do not have to become a recluse. All you need are a few simple strategies that will allow you enough flexibility in your day to stay focused to do the work that matters and still allow you to deal with other people’s crises and dramas.

    Here are 7 ways you can stay focused and be less distracted.

    1. Find out When You Are at Your Most Focused

    According to research, brilliantly documented by Daniel Pink in his latest book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, our brains have a limited capacity to stay focused each day.[1]

    From the moment we wake up to the time we turn in for the day, we are using up our brain’s limited energy resources and, depending on the time of day, we will be moving between strong concentration and low concentration.

    This means that for most people, their optimum time for sustained concentration and focus will be soon after they wake up. For others, it could be later in the evening—a kind of second wind—but that is rare.

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    Once you understand this, you can take time to learn when you are at your best and to protect that time on your calendar as much as possible. If you can, block it off and use that time for the work you need to do that requires the most concentration each day.

    2. Get Comfortable Using ‘Do Not Disturb’ Mode

    We have the ability to switch our electronic devices to do not disturb mode. Where all notifications are off and your phone or computer will not alert you to a new email or message.

    Now after testing this function for a number of years, I can happily report that it does work.

    When I sat down to write this article, I put all my electronic devices to do not disturb, closed down my email and began writing. I am safe in the knowledge that until this article is written, and I turn do not disturb off, there will be no interruptions or distractions.

    Of course, it is not really about whether do not disturb works or not, it is whether you are willing to turn it on or not.

    Most people believe they have to be constantly available for their boss or customers. This is not true at all. What has happened is because of your always available status, you have conditioned these people to turn to you first whenever they have a problem.

    You are not actually helping them at all. You are preventing them from having to think for themselves and develop the skill of problem-solving. By not being so readily available, you help them a lot more.

    What it comes down to is your boss and customers are going to be far more positive with you, if you deliver your work to the highest quality and on time than you being available 24/7. Trust me on that. I also tested that one.

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    3. Schedule Focus Time Every Day

    This technique is a lot easier than you may think.

    First, you figure out when you are least likely to be disturbed. For me, that is between 6 and 9 am. for a lot of my clients, they find the first 90 minutes in the morning at their workplace is when they are not likely to be disturbed. This is important because you want to be building consistency.

    Most people start their day by checking their email and other messages. While they are doing that, they are not going to be bothering you. Now there is no rule about when you should be checking your email. The chances are email is not going to be where you want to spend your most focused time, so you can decide to check your email at say 10:30 am.

    Dedicate 30 minutes from 10:30 am to 11:00 am for email processing and use the first 90 minutes of your day for doing your most important work. You will surprise yourself by how much work you get done in that ninety minutes.

    4. Plan Your Day the Night Before

    One of the inevitabilities of life is there is always a plan for the day. The choice is whether the plan you have is a plan of your own making or not. If you don’t have a plan, then the day will take control of you. Other people’s priorities, urgencies and dramas will fill your day. As the late Jim Rohn said:

    “Either you run the day or the day runs you.”

    If you take control and make it a habit to plan out what you want to accomplish the next day before you go to bed, you will find yourself staying more focused on your work and be less likely disturbed.

    Now when I say plan your day the night before, I do not mean you need to spend an hour or so planning and mapping out every minute of the day. Planning your day should only take you around 10 to 15 minutes and you only need to decide what 10 things you want to complete — 2 “must do” objective tasks and 8 “would like to do” tasks. What I call the 2+8 Prioritisation Technique:

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    Do not be tempted to go beyond 10 tasks for the day. When you do that, you do not have enough flexibility in your day to handle crises and other unknown issues that will pop up throughout the day.

    When you do not build in flexibility, you will soon stop planning your day. Only plan tasks that will have the biggest positive impact on your work and projects.

    5. Learn to Say “No”

    I am sure you’ve been told this before. We are wired to please and this results in us wanting to say yes to every opportunity that comes our way. The problem is we cannot do everything and every time you say “yes” to one opportunity, you are saying “no” to another opportunity. You cannot be in two places at the same time.

    Jay Shetty shared an inspiring video on JOMO “Joy Of Missing Out”. Here’s the video:

    Rather than allowing ourselves to be succumbed by FOMO (the Fear Of Missing Out), we should replace that ‘fear’ with the “joy” of missing out. Because of our need to please, we say yes to things we really don’t want to do; yet when we do that, we miss out on doing things that bring us joy—creating something special, spending time educating ourselves and just having some quiet alone time with ourselves.

    Learn to say “no” every time you get a notification to your phone. Ignore it. Learn to say “no” to your colleagues when they want to gossip. Learn to say “no” to volunteering when the thing you are being asked to volunteer for does not excite you. Just learn to say “no”.

    By saying “no” to opportunities, distractions and interruptions, you are saying yes to better and more meaningful things. Things you do want to focus your attention on.

    6. Create a Distraction-Free Environment for Your Focused Time

    This has been possibly the most powerful tip I learned when it comes to focusing on what is important. Have a place where you do only focused, high-concentration work.

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    Now this place needs to be clean and only have the tools you need to do your work. If it is writing a report or preparing a presentation, then it needs a table and a computer, nothing more. Files, paper and other detritus that accumulates on and around people’s desks need to go. A clean, cool and well-lit environment is going to do a lot more for your focus and concentration than anything else.

    The dining table in our home is where I go for undisturbed, focussed work. I take my laptop or iPad, and only have my writing app open. Everything is closed down and the computer is in “do not disturb” mode. There is nothing else on the dining table just my computer and my water tumbler.

    Because that is my designated focus area, I only go there to work when I have something that needs total focus and concentration. I am there right now!

    7. Be Intentional

    The reality is, if you absolutely need to get something done then you need to be intentional. You have to have the intention of sitting down, focusing and doing the work.

    There’s no magic tricks or apps that will miraculously do all your work for you. You need to intentionally set aside time for undisturbed focus work and do it. Without that intention, you can read as many of these articles as you like and you still will not get the work done.

    It is only when you intentionally set yourself up to do the work, turn off all notifications and do whatever it takes to avoid distractions will the work get done.

    The Bottom Line

    The strategies and tips I shared in this post will go a long way to helping you become better at focusing on the important things in your life. No matter what they are, you are in control of your time and what you do with it and where you spend it, never give that control away to anyone else.

    Protect it and it will be your servant. Give that control away and it will become your master and that is not a good place to be.

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    Featured photo credit: Manny Pantoja via unsplash.com

    Reference

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