Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Lassoing Time

Photo by angelamaphone
Let's talk about time today folks!

Time is finite.  There are only 24 hours in the day and 365 days in a year.  Everyone knows this.

I don't want to spend most, if not all, of my waking hours on work.  Yes, work is necessary, but I'd rather work on things that I enjoy, things that I am good at, and things that are aligned with my purpose.  I don't know too many people who would disagree with me.

By becoming more efficient with my work time, I will have plenty of time to truly enjoy my life.  I'll have time to spend with the people who are important to me, express my creativity, travel to meaningful places, and connect with, give back to, and help others.  

So how can we get there??

According to The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss, a solution is available and below are just a few of his tips for ending the need for strict time management and getting things done in a lot less time.  

1.  Start the day with a written to do list of a few tasks.
Three is a bit hard right now, so I'll start out with no more than 5 tasks and cut down from there.

I also noticed that when doing something that I really don't want to do, it is easier for me to procrastinate.  If this describes you too, maybe breaking it down would be helpful to stay on task.  That way, you can spend less time working on it and can keep the rebel in check.  You're less likely to FIND distractions if you're on to the next thing.  

2.  Limit multitasking
It's been said that multitasking is the devil for many reasons with the two biggest ones being that it takes longer to complete things and the quality of work is likely to suffer due to the lack of focus.  Tim suggests cutting out multitasking completely and work on a task from start to finish.

This makes sense.  I admit that when I just buckle down, focus, and get it done, I am so happy that it is off of my desk.  But for someone who is on the phone, typing, listening to a podcast and taking notes, and doing research all at the same time, going cold turkey may not be the right move.  There has to be a middle ground to make this work.  

I decided to that breaking a task down into smaller ones might be the place to start.  See the example below.

Scenario:  It's Monday and the Quarterly Report is due on Friday.  It will take 16 hours, or 2 days, to complete it.  Your task, should you choose to accept it, is to get it done on time.  :p

Tim's Suggestion
To do Monday: Quarterly Report (8 hours)

To do Tuesday: Quarterly Report (8 hours)

To do Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday: Other tasks (24 hours total)

My Intermediate Solution
To Do Monday:  
1. Section 1 of the Quarterly Report (4 hours)
2. Other tasks (listed out)  (4 hours)

To do Tuesday: 
1. Section 2 of the Quarterly Report (4 hours)
2. Other tasks (listed out)  (4 hours)

To do Wednesday: 
1. Section 3 of the Quarterly Report (4 hours)
2. Other tasks (listed out)  (4 hours)

To do Thursday: 
1. Section 4 of the Quarterly Report (4 hours)
2. Other tasks (listed out)  (4 hours)

To do Friday: 
1. Other tasks (listed out)  (8 hours)

In both cases, the report still takes 16 hours, but those hours are broken up, so as to allow time to work on other tasks and give yourself a break from something mundane, should you need it, like I do. 

3.  Light the fire.
Tim mentioned a scenario that we have all encountered: the I-have-got-to-get-this-done-before-I-leave-for-vacation scenario.  Whenever there is a tight deadline, like COB (close of business) on the Friday before your vacation starts, no matter how much you need to get finished or what gets thrown your way, you're become some kind of workhorse warrior and manage to get it done.  We get laser focused on finishing the task, because there is no other option.  We tend to function better and do better work when the boats have been burned and there is no other option but to finish it or die.  Ok, maybe not dies, but you get the point.

Tim suggests shortening your schedule and creating tighter timelines, which helps you to become more focused on completing the task, producing greater quality work as a result, and finishing tasks faster, which leaves more time to do the things that you like.  

I know you're saying, "That sounds all well and good for some spoiled socialite, but I can't do that.  This doesn't even take into account the constant interruptions that come up for me!"  The book goes into great detail about how to systematize and ultimately eliminate them, but I just haven't gotten to that point yet.  :-)  For that reason, I highly recommend checking it out.  It has really revolutionized the way that people work and do business.  

How do you manage your time?  What are some of the things that you've incorporated that have worked out the best for you?  How have these tips / tools affected your work and/ or personal life?  

As always, your input is valuable and very helpful to the community.  Please feel free to comment and share as well.  Thanks and enjoy the rest of your week!

Here are some quotes that help me put it all in perspective:
He who every morning plans the transaction of the day and follows out that plan, carries a thread that will guide him through the maze of the most busy life. But where no plan is laid, where the disposal of time is surrendered merely to the chance of incidence, chaos will soon reign.” – Victor Hugo
You cannot run at full throttle when applying your mindset to all of the different things running through your head. Focusing is the key to manifesting your desires.” – Stephen Richards
Time is what we want most, but what we spend worst.” – William Penn
Never waste any time you can spend sleeping.” – Frank Knight
Lost time is never found again.” – Benjamin Franklin

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