How to play with time, and make time work for us!
There are only 24 hours in any given day for everyone. It is how we choose to use those hours, which draws the line between the procrastinators and those who manage their time wisely. Instead of stressing yourself out, there are some simple ways to kick the procrastination habit and become more productive.
1. Start your day early. Forcing yourself to get up at the same time every day, on the first alarm (no snooze button allowed!) will leave you more refreshed and less stressed. By honouring this regular schedule, especially on weekends, you will free up many more hours that can be used productively. CARPE DIEM, Seize the day.
2. Prioritize your tasks. It may be best to get the hardest task out of the way first. If you start early in the day you will have more energy to complete it, and you will also get that hit of “happy hormones” and feel less pressured, by getting the big and/or tough project over and done with. Once your spirit is lifted, you’ll feel more optimistic and capable of doing more.
3. Set and respect deadlines. Enlist the help of a friend or partner to hold you accountable for completing hard to start projects. Apply Parkinson’s Law, which is: work expands to fill the time available for its completion. This means if you give yourself a week to complete a two-hour task, then (psychologically speaking) the task will increase in complexity and become more daunting so as to fill that week.
4. Use calendars or daily planners. Calendars or planners are only useful if you use them consistently. Always carry your planner with you to mark down important appointments. Planning your next day the night before, and your week the evening before it starts, will give you an increase of 20% in what you can achieve during those seven days. Very quickly you will have a positive new habit, and you will soon wonder how you ever existed without it.
5. Organise your desk and computer files. Countless hours can be saved by having a clean desk with properly labelled files. Instead of checking multiple folders for that one receipt or client report, you can go straight to one folder because it’s properly labelled. Colour coded files can make your system even more simple and specific.
6. Use an egg timer to set a time limit. If you are still finding it difficult to muster up the energy to tackle that big project, then set a kitchen timer for 30 minutes and work intensely during that time to accomplish as much as you can. When the 30 minutes is up, allow yourself time for a quick two minute ‘breather’ or move your focus immediately on to a smaller project. This system is perfect for those people who believe that ‘variety is the spice of life’ and it also means you are putting a big dent into a number of tasks, if not completing them all.
7. Focus on one thing at a time. What has been discovered more recently is that multitasking may mean a project is completed before a deadline, but very often diminishes the quality of the work. Just focus on one thing at a time, get it completed and out of the way as quickly as you can, and enjoy then sense of accomplishment from doing so.
8. Take frequent breaks from long and arduous tasks. Although this may sound the opposite to focusing on one thing at a time, taking frequent short breaks can break the monotony of a task and can give you some new energy.
9. Delegate and outsource tasks to others. If you do not like a task, then give it to someone who loves it, and pay them to do it. Outsourcing, using websites such as Elance can save much time and money, and it means everyone is still doing what they are passionate about. My mother often said: “A problem shared is a problem halved”. Children can be much faster with some computer tasks than we are. Let them earn some more pocket money!
10. Set goals that are realistic. The old adage asks: ‘How do you eat an elephant?’ The answer is: ‘One bite at a time!’ Break down what appears to be an unconquerable mountain into smaller, achievable molehills.
One final thought
Everyone has the choice and the capability to change what we do not like in our life. If you recognise that you procrastinate, you and only you, have the ability to take these action steps to become more productive. By simply practicing just one of these tips every week, or if you are keen add one to your personal tools kit each day, and very soon you will develop lifelong habits. Be a role model to your family members and colleagues, instead of trying to make them change first. As they see the example you are setting, they and those who cross their paths in the future will be grateful they have learnt to appreciate the value of time!
Maggie Webber is a Life Management Coach from NSW, has worked with corporations as well as individuals, by providing them a variety of tools to increase their productivity, assist in managing stress levels and achieve greater work/life balance. Initially specialising in sports marketing, Maggie, most recently has worked with a variety of clients, ranging from professional athletes to top executives and entertainers. Maggie Webber is affiliated with the high standing health and wellbeing company LovinYou, helping contribute to the empowerment of women Australia-wide (www.lovinyou.com.au). For more tips on how you can manage your life and time effectively, contact Maggie Webber: firstname.lastname@example.org
For a FREE Goals Report and E-book on “Meditation – Relaxation for your mind and muscles”, please visit www.shifthappensnow.com.au.