Updated: Nov 20, 2020
An odd concept, operating life around how many seconds are in the day, there will only ever be a certain amount of things that can realistically be completed within 24 hours.
Have you ever heard yourself say “I DON’T HAVE THE TIME FOR THIS!”, “WE ARE RUNNING OUT OF TIME” or “I WON’T MAKE IT ON TIME!” Time certainly has a lot of responsibility to live up to, it’s the scapegoat for failing to efficiently plan ahead. It’s a hard fact to face that time isn’t a commodity and it isn’t ‘times’ fault for being late to a meeting, or not finishing a project.
WHAT DO YOU DO?
Let’s take a look at what you could be doing on an average day, that enables you to be in a good mental, physical and emotional state - without carrying out a ‘regular job’.
7 hours of sleep
2 hours of getting dressed, washed and using the amenities throughout the day
4 hours of preparing meals and eating (if you have 3 meals a day and other mouths to feed)
1 hour of exercise (we all know how great we would feel if we fit this in on a daily basis!)
3 hours of TV, internet surfing/scrolling, texting and reading*
1 hour of idle time, those moments of tumble weed and wondering what next…
1 hour tidying up after ourselves and cleaning
That’s a total of 19 hours right there, spent on being a modern day human. That leaves 5 hours, take a moment to digest that…5 hours of your time to be active on another area, which doesn’t take into consideration being a carer for another person/s, travelling anywhere, dealing with the lost contact lens, stubbed toe or spilt drink…
When it comes to ‘working’ and managing other aspects of life, the balance gets tipped. We are expected to be productive from 9 am to 5 pm – 8 hours a day. What happens to all of the other responsibilities and necessities of a human? When you look at the above example, how on earth did 9 – 5 ever become the norm to be sat behind the proverbial desk?
HOW TO GET THE BEST OUT OF TIME
I recently watched a great TEDx talk given by Dr. Darria Long, an ER Doctor, it was refreshing to watch. She highlighted the gains of dealing with tasks in a way that an ER doctor would, luckily for the majority of us we don’t make life critical choices on a daily basis. Her method was to triage every task into categories. Avoiding burn out, maintaining energy and focus to execute tasks in hand whilst having head space to deal with the unexpected that is waiting to happen.
“Moving from 'Crazy busy' mode to 'Ready Mode'.”
STEP 1: READY MODE
This mode is about prioritising what you need to do by degree of urgency. Many of you may be with familiar with term ‘RAG’ rating (Red, Amber, Green). This is a great tool to grade your tasks by.
RED = URGENT only you can do this
AMBER = STILL A PRIORITY and needs your attention
GREEN = MINOR can be carried out by someone else
Design ahead. Make tasks easier for you to handle the Reds, reduce daily choices that can be planned ahead - such as meal-times. Nutrition and feeding yourself before you head for a crash in energy is key to maintaining your moods, energy and focus.
Automation. When a new item props up, get it in your physical diary straight away, don’t pile it onto your short term memory. Use your calendar notifications for due deadlines, setting the reminders the day before to make sure you are on track, if you aren’t it allows you to notify people in advance.
Co-locate. Be smarter with your physical organisation of the equipment that you need daily, have a set place for your diary, chargers and notes, pens and glasses. Have a work area just for you, tidy it up and the end of each day ready for the next, leave yourself a note on what to start with the next day.
Don’t reach for the sugar! Replace snacks for ones that will sustain you, remove temptations from easily accessible areas – the snack cupboard, if it’s not in your area, you won’t be tempted by the chocolate!
STEP 3: GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY
Think outside of your internal monologue and see things from an objective perspective, “when you get out of your head, you get out of your own way”. There are always things that can be done by other people around you, or don’t need to be done at all. As a bit of a perfectionist myself, this can be quite a hurdle to get over in the first instance! You can only time manage what is in your control and execution, learning to delegate trusted tasks is a time saver and reduces the Red list.
Time management does not revolve around allocating hours to a set task, it’s about how you go about tackling them from a mindset of being in “Ready Mode”. Enabling you to deal with anything that comes around the corner or what lands on your desk.
Productivity is selective, if you are banging out tasks that don’t really need doing, then those 4 hours of producing a pretty flyer have been wasted, sending out 100 emails without following up doesn’t lead to clients or money in the bank.
Time management requires a three pronged attack:
Get your environment prepped and organised before leaping into action
Have your nutritional requirements set up for access without the sugar overload
Finally triage the hell out of your tasks so you are only tackling those matters that really need your attention and make a difference.
Life doesn’t always pan out how we would like it to, emergencies crop up and technology can let us down. How we cope with the inevitable and unplanned is by allowing for these situations and getting comfortable with not having everything planned out to the nano second. The more flexible you are in your approach to manage change, the easier it will be to get things done without loosing your head in the process.
*Links and websites used as reference