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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
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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 21, 2021

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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