For as long as I can remember I've always been looking for better ways to manage my time. I see other people that seem to get so much done and wonder how they've done it - I have the same number of hours they do!
Having read about some business leaders I realise that one thing they do have, that I don't, is the lack of need for sleep - or so it would seem. So that is not something I can replicate, but I've always been convinced that there is a better way, a more efficient way of doing things. Here in lies the quest!
So over the last 12-ish months I've been devouring nearly every blog post and website that talks about time management (to the detriment of my own time-management, but it is all in the name of research!)
Here are some of the top tips I've picked up - some you might like, others you may not, but hopefully there's something for everyone to help make the day go a little smoother and be more productive:
1. Overcome Procrastination:
"Eating the Frog" - according to Brian Tracey! Tackling the worst jobs first means you're less likely to keep putting them off. When you keep putting tasks off there comes a point when panic overtakes and you HAVE to do them. When you're in the "panic zone" it's not always the best place to tackle something. Get it done first, then forget about it!
2. Getting things done AND taking a break:
The Pomodoro Technique is a great example of how you can be more productive in a short space of time, and also give yourself a break. It creates focus and gives you the chance to put any distractions to one side. Because it's only for 25 minutes it makes it easier for the brain to focus solely on that one task.
3. Batch your tasks together:
By looking at your week ahead you can "batch tasks" - putting all the similar tasks together and getting through them in one go. An idea I found through the Shaa Wasmund site, she suggests that batching is a form of time management that allows you to leverage your powers of concentration and decrease distraction. Similar types of work get grouped together and reduce the amount of time it takes to complete the task, setting aside a defined amount of time to complete it.
4. The Bullet Journal:
I LOVE this idea - as someone who loves new stationery, planners, notebooks etc - this really appealed to me, not least because it meant I NEEDED to buy a new notebook! They call it the analogue system for the digital age. The Bullet Journal is a way of keeping track of the important stuff, while still keeping one eye on the "other" stuff.
One of the chapters in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People talks about Personal Management, and this Time Management system is very similar to the quadrants of time management that Stephen Covey writes about. There are also some really good tips on procrastination on that site too.
I suppose the other time management skill is the old Nike saying: JUST DO IT!!!
Talking about it, thinking about it, searching the web about it, isn't going to get the task done!!
I do love a swimming/life analogies. I think it's because it's the one time that my mind just shuts up and I have these realisations that swimming is just like life!
This morning was no different!
I've been trying to get my 400m time down. I'm not planning on entering the olympics or anything, it's just something I like to challenge myself on. Like people aim to run 10 minute miles, or 5k under 30 minutes - you do it for the self satisfaction. So, I started doing a few lengths, trying different speeds - some were comfortable, some were a little uncomfortable and some were, well, close to drowning kind of lengths!!
Yes, I know, get to the point... The thing I found was that the harder I tried, the slower I was. The more I relaxed the quicker I was, I felt I was just gliding through the water with ease (in my head I was like a shark, stealth like. In reality I'm sure it was completely different - but, hey, that's a whole other blog post!!)
Which got me thinking that sometimes life (and work) is a lot like that, the harder you try at something the more difficult it becomes. All that effort and time you put in to that pitch, and then don't win it. All the research and business planning only to be told it's not viable, or you can't have the funding.
I'm not saying that if you do a pitch, or put in a bid for a business loan that you shouldn't bother. On the contrary, go for it. Just do it without the 'over-thinking', without the 'trying to be someone else'.
Answer the brief, answer the questions - there's no hidden meaning in there, be yourself and don't over-think it - often the simplest answers or solutions are the right ones.