Manage Your Time
Without Losing Your Mind
By Theresa Rose
We all know about “Time Management”: that dreaded art/science
where we are supposed to become productivity machines, getting as
many high priority tasks accomplished as humanly possible. How’s
that been working for you? Are you getting everything you wanted
done? Are you spending your time wisely, or does it feel like it is
being wasted? More importantly, are you spending your time
Most of us have learned the traditional method of time
management, where all items on our to-do lists get prioritized as
high, medium or low, and we are instructed to attack the top of the
list with gusto. While this approach looks good on paper, it doesn’t
take into account one critical component of the human condition: We
never do anything we don’t truly want to do. If we
continually force ourselves to work when we don’t want to, we either
collapse from fatigue or chuck the whole process and resign
ourselves to never having “enough time.”
If you are tired of constantly running on the hamster wheel
of life without much to show for your efforts, maybe a different
approach is in order. Here are several ways you can do more with
the hours in your day while maintaining a sense of balance and
Get the juices
You will always be more productive if you move your body first.
Consider starting each day with some form of movement, whether it’s
light stretching and deep breathing, a brisk walk around the block,
or a 90-minute killer kickboxing class at the local gym. By
bringing some much-needed oxygen to your cells, you’ll find that you
will stay healthier, think more clearly and have significantly more
energy throughout the day.
Honor your clock.
We each have a unique internal clock, and our productivity
levels can dramatically shift depending on the hour of the day. If
at all possible, schedule your most challenging tasks for the hours
when you have the most energy. If you notice that your energy level
dips in the afternoons, try to perform those activities that aren’t
as mentally or physically challenging. Needless to say, crafting
that all-important e-mail to your boss’s boss while in the depths of
your mid-day slump is not an effective use of your time.
Do the fun things
If you start your workday with the most joyful task, you will set a
pleasant tone for the rest of the day. Whenever we experience
pleasure, we automatically get a burst of serotonin secreted from
our brains. Use that serotonin buzz to your advantage as you
address subsequent items you dread.
Reframe the Uglies.
Unfortunately, there will always be odious things we have to perform
at our jobs, such as creating budgets, completing expense reports,
or writing status reports. Instead of incessantly complaining or
devising new and different tactics to avoid them, try viewing them
through a different lens. All of those ugly tasks can be also be
seen as important and necessary elements to the employment you’ve
chosen, and they don’t need to rob you of your power any
longer. Approach each task as if you want to do them instead
of have to do them, because that is truly the case.
We often cause errors or omissions when we operate at a fever
pitch for an extended period of time. Instead of rushing through
the day, try to savor each task. Spend just a few more moments with
each one to make sure it is properly completed. Not only will you
save time by avoiding mistakes, you will enjoy the process a great
Let’s face it;
there will be times when you just want to goof off. This desire to
escape is a natural response to the intense work environment that
has been cultivated over the years. Instead of wasting precious
minutes surreptitiously watching YouTube, playing an online game, or
surfing eBay, think about going to the kitchen to get a nutritious
snack, take a walk for fifteen minutes, or simply step outside for a
breath of fresh, non-corporate air. Getting away from your desk to
clear your head can actually improve your productivity and provide
clarity on issues you are struggling with.
When you finally
complete that big project, pop the champagne! Oftentimes we jump so
quickly from task to task that we don’t stop to appreciate how much
we accomplish every day. The next time you finish an assignment,
take a few moments to reflect on your efforts and acknowledge your
skill and determination. This will give you the fuel you need to
tackle the next initiative.
When adopting this new approach, it is important to recognize
and accept that there will never be a moment when you get everything
done; there will always be undone items on the to-do list. Instead
of perceiving your job as a constant battle between tasks and
limited time, look at each new day as another opportunity to
accomplish great things in a joyful manner. By incorporating these
mindful techniques, you will find that you will get more done in a
shorter period of time.
Ultimately, each of us wants to enjoy ourselves both personally and
professionally, not work ourselves into an early grave. If you find
yourself fixated on the elusive destination instead of enjoying the
journey of your life, then maybe it is time to stop managing your
time so rigidly and start managing your joy. In the end, happiness
is a state of being we can all choose, whether our high priority
items ever get done or not.
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