Time is something that we never get back and, when we have 101 things to do and not enough hours in a day, it can seem an impossibility to get it all done.
Sometimes, we set the bar too high, meaning that we over-extend ourselves. Not reaching goals and hitting targets mean one thing: disappointment.
We can all work smarter, but sometimes we do need to know how to achieve more, in less time…
Tip 1: The ‘to do’ list (the real one, not that massive list of things that need to be done in the best hour…)
You may be a perfectionist, with high values and priorities but you really do need to find some realism from somewhere and inject it in to the ‘to do’ list. The morale of this story is this; by creating the longest, packed ‘to do’ list in the world, and setting a time limit by which to get it all done is committing ourselves to failure before we have lifted our head off the pillow in the morning. Damaging to both self-confidence and self-esteem, you need to be honest and focus on the right things… get it right, your confidence will soar and you will stop feeling that you have accomplished next-to-nothing and are an abject failure (again).
Take a look at your ‘to do’ list and, with different coloured pens, get marking;
- Split down tasks and assignments in to small component parts – instead of shopping, split this in to main shop at supermarket, trip to butchers, trip to natural health food shop etc. By doing this, you can tick off more items quickly, achieving a warm sense of accomplishment – you also then realise how much you do actually do in a day
- Which of those things on your list are prioritise and which are the ‘would be nice to do’ tasks… be honest!
- Go from every day to week ‘to do’ lists which has 3 overall must accomplish tasks in it. This way, you can flex your week to fit around the inevitable distractions and inevitable crisis every now and then (for example, the washing machine packing up on Tuesday and the children being sent home on Thursday with a rash/tummy ache etc.)
Tip 2: Time - boundaries and expectations
We have all been in the position where we have underestimated the amount of time it takes to get something done; from assuming it will take a few days, to finding that many weeks pass before the project is anywhere near completion.
Sometimes, projects and tasks stagnate because we do and so, rather than hammering at something because it is on your ‘to do’ list and there is a deadline looming, take control back of time and set some realistic boundaries and expectations.
Now, for some people, this next idea will be far too outlandish but give it a try and you may be surprised…
High octane projects (the ones that could make or break your reputation/business/project etc.) should be micro-managed in terms of time spent on them. The Pomodoro Technique suggests that 25 minutes is the optimum time for true productivity to happen.
And so, grab your kitchen timer, set 25 minutes and get on with whatever it is you are doing. Once the ring of the timer has half startled you to death, take a 5 minutes break, then repeat the process for another 3 cycles.
Once you have completed 4 cycles - (25 minutes x 4) + (5 minute breaks x 4) = 2 hours – you should be able to see just how much you have achieved. Compare this to what you would normally do in 2 hours and you can see a marked difference.
Shift your focus from the quantity you need to achieve and by when, to setting a time and working within this time constraint. The goal is the 25 minute deadline, not the quantity you can produce but by shifting this focus, you will find you complete more.
Tip 3: Stress vs. inspiration
In life, from school to college and beyond, we condition ourselves (and we are helped to do so) to produce work by hitting certain milestones. Having something to aim for is no bad thing BUT, when the deadline is looming and we feel we may not hit it, stress starts to play a part.
Stress is a great mind bender; it tells us things like, “you should have started sooner” and, “this is not your best work” and… you get the picture. We go for the full steam ahead approach like the Titanic and, just like the luxury liner, we can hit the hidden ice berg.
Stress can be a great driver, but you need to temper it with inspiration. You can only produce your best work when you have the balance, so take the time to take breaks. This physically relaxes your posture, stops the hunched aching shoulders and stops the emotional stress and its negative impact from building.