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5 Common Time Management Truths That Can Make You Unproductive

5 Common Time Management Truths That Can Make You Unproductive


    In time management, there is certain advice that is repeated over and over again. These lessons have become a “de-facto” standard in the time management industry.

    SEE ALSO: Boost Your Time Management Skills With These 9 Techniques

    Although I think that this advice is important to understand and implement in your everyday life, at times I don’t necessarily agree with all these lessons.

    1. Take massive action

    I can’t remember how many times I have heard this advice and why you should take massive action – yet this lesson can be easily misunderstood and implemented the wrong way.

    Rather than taking blindly massive action, understand your goal, pick an important task (or tasks) related to your goal and take massive action on that instead.

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    Taking massive action for its own sake is just silly. You can waste time and energy if you focus your efforts to the wrong tasks.

    Take smart and focused massive action instead of just massive action.

    2. Improve your productivity with The Pomodoro Technique

    The Pomodoro technique is a very popular productivity system and it is based on working in short bursts of time (25 minutes which equals one Pomodoro).

    The basic premise is that you can improve your productivity, because those time blocks are very focused and condensed. Also, having breaks between sessions gives a good rhythm to your work and most likely you won’t lose your attention span.

    I’m not into Pomodoro – at least not in every situation.

    For instance, my ideal working block is 45 minutes (sometimes it is even longer). By using that amount of time I’m

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    • Able to get a lot of work done
    • I’m still able to focus to my task at hand (I’m not losing my attention span)
    • I’m not violently stopping my work mode after 25 minutes

    This is just to say that even if the Pomodoro technique may work for some, it’s not my ideal way of working.

    Although you should improve your own working routines by using a solid system, it is also worth testing the system first and then decide if it’s for you or not.

    Whatever the system is that you are learning about (whether it is Pomodoro, GTD …), you still need to apply it to your own personal conditions and tweak it to your needs.

    3. Focus on your strengths, not weaknesses

    In an ideal world you would be able to only focus on your strengths and forget your weaknesses. But believe me – it is useful to focus on your weaknesses too!

    For example, if you are a shy person and lack of social skills, do you think you should just forget of overcoming your shyness and  improving yourself? Of course not!

    In fact, there are examples of people (like those shy ones), who have turned their weaknesses into their strengths and now they teaching how you can do the same (like Kent Sayre, author of the book Unstoppable Confidence).

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    If your weakness is making your life harder, it is worth figuring out if you can do something about it. And although you should focus on improving your strengths, you shouldn’t completely ignore your weaknesses either.

    4. “Work smart, not hard”

    The promise of this common phrase is that when you work smart, you make the right decisions, reduce your stress levels and get the right things done. However, sometimes I feel that it is an excuse for not working at all.

    Even if it is okay to work smart it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t work hard at all. In fact, you are still required to work hard – but instead on the things that make the most difference!

    Working smart doesn’t give you excuses to slack off. It is only giving you the right area to focus on and direct where you should put all your efforts (which generates the great results).

    5. Do not multitask

    Multitasking is the root of all evil – especially when it comes to your productivity.

    This is a very common lesson in time management circles and I agree with this advice. Yet, multitasking serves its purpose if done properly.

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    I understand that writing an e-book while checking your Facebook page is not going to help you to get that e-book done. But in some other scenarios, multitasking might come very handy.

    I learned about taking advantage of multitasking by reading a book called Find Your Focus Zone (by Lucy Jo Palladino). There she introduced the concept that she calls mindful multitasking.

    The basic idea behind the term is that when you multitask, you are aware that you productivity level is going to decrease. Yet, you multitask, because it helps you to put yourself back to your focus zone.

    For instance, I have used this technique when I have been working on mundane data entry tasks. I need some stimulus to get the work done and one way to do it is to do something other than your main task at hand. So, if checking my Facebook page can help me to get the data entry work done (and get me back to my focus zone), so then be it!

    Also, you can seamlessly multitask in other occasions – like rehearsing your presentation you are giving the next day while you are exercising or thinking about new blog post ideas when in the shower. So multitasking – when used mindfully and intelligently – can maximize your time usage.

    In Closing…

    Although it is important to understand the basic time management theories, it is also crucial to take a critical look at them. Don’t always take things for granted. Put those theories to the test and see if they are beneficial in your particular situation.

    (Photo credit: Crossed Fingers Behind Back via Shutterstock)

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    Timo Kiander

    Productivity Author and Founder of Productive Superdad

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    Last Updated on March 23, 2021

    Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

    Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

    One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

    The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

    You need more than time management. You need energy management

    1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

    How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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    I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

    I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

    2. Determine your “peak hours”

    Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

    Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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    My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

    In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

    Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

    3. Block those high-energy hours

    Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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    Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

    If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

    That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

    There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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    Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

    Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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