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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 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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