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Simple Steps on Handling Tasks

Simple Steps on Handling Tasks

Fast handling of things has been the talk of the various categories of the work force for years and years. The basis of fast handling of tasks is time and mind management. It really boils down to these 2 major resources that we all have but tend to over (or under) use. The technique we will discuss here is how manage your time against your mind’s concentration in 5 simple steps:

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  1. Draw a To-Do list with your tasks numbered in priority, importance, and scheduled dates and times of completion. Once a thing comes up (and mind you, “comes up” means “once it appears in the queue of things you have to do”, and not when it explodes as a problem!): When something comes up, there are a few simple steps you should follow in order to maintain rhythm with all your other things.
  2. Assess the importance of the new task (against all others in your list). In other words, you must evaluate whether or not this new task:
    • Is more urging than others on the list
    • Has more potential damage/harm if not done/handled before a specific time.
    • Dependant on other tasks on the list? If other dependant tasks are not on the list and they’re your responsibility, then add them; otherwise, add a task to follow up on whoever has to take care of the dependant tasks to yours.
  3. Insert the new task (and their dependencies or follow-ups on dependencies) into their correct (or most appropriate) priority order on your To-Do list.
  4. Periodically Examine/Review your To-Do list. This is a must do issue every pre-set period of time proportional to the average length of tasks. For instance if your tasks are days and weeks long, then your review should be conducted every other day or every day. On the other hand, the review should be done every 2-3 hours if the tasks are within the minutes or hours (maximum 1 day) range.
    Be careful not to overwhelm yourself with review sessions and finally waste your time. During the review session, examine which tasks have ended on time, which tasks are running late and which tasks seem to have problems in them. Whilst reviewing, re-arrange your priorities or resources accordingly to manage the lag in some projects/tasks (e.g. you might call in someone for help on something) or you may delay some other tasks to handle more urging ones. Such important decisions are a must make and take in order to constantly maintain order in your To-Do list and hence the system of your day and life.
  5. For tasks of priority 1 (and high concentration), do not perform multi-tasking.
    This is an issue that one must handle as he/she goes along. For top priority tasks that need 100% of your concentration, like writing a business proposal or talking to your manager, DO NOT multi-task. Multitasking will not only immensely delay your schedule but will result in the original task taking ages and not getting done in half the quality it could have been done in.

    For other less important (but still on the list) tasks, you might as well multi-task. For instance, you have to prepare lunch and listen to the news. Then do both at the same time! Switch on the television in the kitchen and prepare lunch. Wherever there are timers on steps in the food preparation process, DO put them on and switch on their alarms – so those will alert you in case you were slightly distracted watching TV.

Following the five simple steps will not only make you get your things done, but also you’ll have the time to spend on yourself and for relaxation purposes rather than always running out of time. You know what? You might as well add the time you need to relax on your list, so you can work towards fulfilling it as well.

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Published on July 17, 2018

How Productive People Compartmentalize Time to Get the Most Done

How Productive People Compartmentalize Time to Get the Most Done

I’ve never believed people are born productive or organized. Being organized and productive is a choice.

You choose to keep your stuff organized or you don’t. You choose to get on with your work and ignore distractions or you don’t.

But one skill very productive people appear to have that is not a choice is the ability to compartmentalize. And that takes skill and practice.

What is compartmentalization

To compartmentalize means you have the ability to shut out all distractions and other work except for the work in front of you. Nothing gets past your barriers.

In psychology, compartmentalization is a defence mechanism our brains use to shut out traumatic events. We close down all thoughts about the traumatic event. This can lead to serious mental-health problems such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) if not dealt with properly.

However, compartmentalization can be used in positive ways to help us become more productive and allow us to focus on the things that are important to us.

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Robin Sharma, the renowned leadership coach, calls it his Tight Bubble of Total Focus Strategy. This is where he shuts out all distractions, turns off his phone and goes to a quiet place where no one will disturb him and does the work he wants to focus on. He allows nothing to come between himself and the work he is working on and prides himself on being almost uncontactable.

Others call it deep work. When I want to focus on a specific piece of work, I turn everything off, turn on my favourite music podcast The Anjunadeep Edition (soft, eclectic electronic music) and focus on the content I intend to work on. It works, and it allows me to get massive amounts of content produced every week.

The main point about compartmentalization is that no matter what else is going on in your life — you could be going through a difficult time in your relationships, your business could be sinking into bankruptcy or you just had a fight with your colleague; you can shut those things out of your mind and focus totally on the work that needs doing.

Your mind sees things as separate rooms with closable doors, so you can enter a mental room, close the door and have complete focus on whatever it is you want to focus on. Your mind does not wander.

Being able to achieve this state can seriously boost your productivity. You get a lot more quality work done and you find you have a lot more time to do the things you want to do. It is a skill worth mastering for the benefits it will bring you.

How to develop the skill of compartmentalization

The simplest way to develop this skill is to use your calendar.

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Your calendar is the most powerful tool you have in your productivity toolbox. It allows you to block time out, and it can focus you on the work that needs doing.

My calendar allows me to block time out so I can remove everything else out of my mind to focus on one thing. When I have scheduled time for writing, I know what I want to write about and I sit down and my mind completely focuses on the writing.

Nothing comes between me, my thoughts and the keyboard. I am in my writing compartment and that is where I want to be. Anything going on around me, such as a problem with a student, a difficulty with an area of my business or an argument with my wife is blocked out.

Understand that sometimes there’s nothing you can do about an issue

One of the ways to do this is to understand there are times when there is nothing you can do about an issue or an area of your life. For example, if I have a student with a problem, unless I am able to communicate with that student at that specific time, there is nothing I can do about it.

If I can help the student, I would schedule a meeting with the student to help them. But between now and the scheduled meeting there is nothing I can do. So, I block it out.

The meeting is scheduled on my calendar and I will be there. Until then, there is nothing I can do about it.

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Ask yourself the question “Is there anything I can do about it right now?”

This is a very powerful way to help you compartmentalize these issues.

If there is, focus all your attention on it to the exclusion of everything else until you have a workable solution. If not, then block it out, schedule time when you can do something about it and move on to the next piece of work you need to work on.

Being able to compartmentalize helps with productivity in another way. It reduces the amount of time you spend worrying.

Worrying about something is a huge waste of energy that never solves anything. Being able to block out issues you cannot deal with stops you from worrying about things and allows you to focus on the things you can do something about.

Reframe the problem as a question

Reframing the problem as a question such as “what do I have to do to solve this problem?” takes your mind away from a worried state into a solution state, where you begin searching for solutions.

One of the reasons David Allen’s Getting Things Done book has endured is because it focuses on contexts. This is a form of compartmentalization where you only do work you can work on.

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For instance, if a piece of work needs a computer, you would only look at the work when you were in front of a computer. If you were driving, you cannot do that work, so you would not be looking at it.

Choose one thing to focus on

To get better at compartmentalizing, look around your environment and seek out places where you can do specific types of work.

Taking your dog for a walk could be the time you focus solely on solving project problems, commuting to and from work could be the time you spend reading and developing your skills and the time between 10 am and 12 pm could be the time you spend on the phone sorting out client issues.

Once you make the decision about when and where you will do the different types of work, make it stick. Schedule it. Once it becomes a habit, you are well on your way to using the power of compartmentalization to become more productive.

Comparmentalization saves you stress

Compartmentalization is a skill that gives you time to deal with issues and work to the exclusion of all other distractions.

This means you get more work done in less time and this allows you to spend more time with the people you want to spend more time with, doing the things you want to spend more time doing.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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