Week 7 of dream, pray, do - Questions to ponder from "An Enemy Called Average" by John L. Mason
My apologies.....I have missed a couple weeks since week 6. Writing for my website and this blog is proving to be very challenging.
What can I do to make better use of my time?
The following list is from lifehack.org (mostly). I did, however, integrate some of my own thoughts & tips into the list as well. If you follow these tips, you will be amazed at how much you can accomplish in your daily life.
- Create a daily plan. Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning while drinking your coffee or even better, at the end of the work day before going home. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. The key is to stick to the plan!
- Use a Planner or Organizer. An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items. I have used a Franklin planner for years and it is a life saver.
- Know your deadlines. When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your organizer so you know when you need to finish them.
- Learn to say “No”. Don’t take on more than you can handle. This can be a hard word to say sometimes but it's better than saying yes and not getting the task done in time.
- Target to be early. When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time. For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.
- Time box your activities. Time boxing refers to boxing your tasks within fixed time slots. For
example, boxing task A from 9-10:30am, then task B from 10:30-1pm, then
task C from 2-4pm. Time boxing is good because it prevents your task
from dragging on and on. There’s a saying that your work will take
however long that you want it to, and I find it’s very true. Ever have a
project deadline where you need to burn the midnight oil to get the
work done? Most of us usually feel that we wouldn’t need to rush like
that if the deadline was later on. Fact is, it doesn’t matter when the
deadline is. Even if it’s 1 week later, 2 weeks later or 1 month later,
the same last minute rush will still take place. We take that
long to do the work because that’s the timeline we gave ourselves.
Hence, time box your tasks. If you set a specific time period and strictly adhere to it, you will find a way to get the work done. Of course, set a time that is challenging yet achievable. If a task requires 3 hours, don’t set 4 hours because you will use up all the 4 hours. Set 3 hours – preferably lesser so you can learn to optimize your output during the period (again, provided you enforce the time box strongly).
- Set reminders 15 minutes before. Most calendars have a reminder function. If you’ve an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before. I actually have an alarm set Mon-Fri at 2:00 to alert me that I need to leave soon to pick my son up from school. That may sound ridiculous, but when I am in the middle of a painting, I am very focused and time flies. I don't want to be watching the clock all day.
- Focus. Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.
- Block out distractions. What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in? When doing important work, switch off the phone. Calls during this time can be recorded and you can contact them afterward if it’s something important. This will help you concentrate better.
- Track your time spent. Egg Timer is a simple online countdown timer. You key in the amount of time you want it to track (example: “30 minutes”, “1 hour”) and it’ll count down in the background. When the time is up, the timer will beep. Great way to be aware of your time spent. Or use the timer on your smartphone.
- Prioritize. Most days you won't accomplish everything, learn to prioritize the most important tasks first. What doesn't get done, goes to the top of the next days list.
- Delegate. If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.
- Eliminate your time wasters. What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often. Set the timer for 30 minutes to update posts and answer emails..... and be disciplined enough to stop when the timer goes off.
- Leave buffer time in-between. Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.