Time Managment- Who’s Managing Who?
I’m a procrastinator. Worse, I’m a spontaneous procrastinator. For example, I have a to-do list ready to go, yet am suddenly inspired to do something that’s not on the list. Like- write an article on time management! Unfortunately, it was 3AM when I got the idea and my husband gets cranky if I turn on the lights. I keep blank 3 x 5 cards and pens in the bathroom for just such moments. Rather than lay awake the rest of the night so I don’t forget those bright ideas that only come at 3AM, I write them and let them go. Sorta, anyway.
I have a lot of 3 x 5 cards with illegible words on them, a combination of 3AM lack of coordination and shower humidity. Many great ideas have been washed away forever.
Procrastinators and Time Management might seem like natural enemies. But good procrastinators are strategic and tactical when it comes to justifying our behavior. When we are actively avoiding a big challenge, we can convince ourselves that if only our office space was more organized, we’d get more done. It’s off to The Container Store for supplies! Another approach is to research better Time Management techniques, and try all of them. Right now. Or at least write about them.
As an old hand at this, I know there are no Time Management sure-fire solutions, but there are plenty of ideas and resources. The key is to “know thyself” and fiddle around until you find what works for you.
I use Gmail, Calendar and Google docs, so Keep is a great addition. It lets me jot notes on any of my devices and is updated across all of them. It’s easy to use- a top requirement for me. I can dictate and have my words transcribed- and it’s pretty accurate! If you’ve ever tried to dictate while driving, only to read “crunch toes Eskimo pie” on your device, you know how cool accuracy can be. The only downside is that it’s not integrated with Calendar. Hopefully Google will hear us and fix that.
Got this great idea from a colleague. Set up a business Pinterest page, with appropriate boards. Some of mine, for example, are Business Development, Millennials, Relationship Building, Coaching. Set up “Pin it” in your toolbar. Whenever you find an article you want to save, you can easily pin it to the appropriate board. You have the option to set up private boards for your eyes only. A complementary app is Pocket, for text-only articles.
Paper or plastic, or, this case, electronic? Depends on you. I have both. I have a minimalist paper calendar. Cost me $1. It’s “weeks” only, two pages per month. I had one with month pages as well but found out the hard way that I wasn’t always transferring the info to the week view. I use Google Calendar because my paper one doesn’t notify me and my phone does. And my desktop, laptop, and tablet. The more things beeping and vibrating, the better the odds I will show up in the right place at the right time. I may be time challenged but I hate messing up an appointment.
3 X 5 Cards
I am caught halfway between the electronic world and that of paper and pen. I still write faster than I type, but I hate hauling around a notebook. My solution is 3 x 5 cards. Keep some in the car, purse, pocket, office and every room in the house. You always have something to write on, yet small and convenient. Another option are small notepads in all the places you inhabit. Just remember to transcribe them now and then.
My new favorite. I can take handwritten notes on my iPad (it’s also Windows-compatible) or use a pen like the iPencil, or type on a keyboard. Once completed, two clicks convert it to text and export it as text, PDF, HTML or a Word doc right to your file. No more losing or transcribing handwritten notes and it’s easy peasy, lemon breezy. Closest thing to one-stop shopping.
All those notifications that beep, click and vibrate can wreak havoc when you need to concentrate. Schedule specific blocks of time for work that requires your full attention. Put it on your calendars. Turn off your internet connection and your devices. As much as we claim to be great multi-taskers, the reality is- you only have 100% of your time and attention, so if you’re lurching from one thing/idea/inspiration to another, the best you are doing is splitting the time between each thing and compromising quality. And sanity. Semi-tasking doesn’t sound as good, does it?
15-Minute Power Bursts
I can do anything for at least 15 minutes, no matter how much I want to procrastinate the unpleasant or difficult. Get a timer and set it for 15 minutes. Devote that time to doing just one thing. At the end, you can either go on to something else, or reset the timer for another 15 minutes. You’ll be surprised how much you want to keep going once you’ve made that first 15-minute dent. This works whether your challenge is writing a business plan, doing your expenses or organizing a messy drawer. Even the most daunting task is do-able when broken down into bite-sized pieces.
Focus on Priorities
What should you do with the extra time, once you have it better organized? Spend it wisely, allocating enough for your top priorities. Stephen Covey’s Prioritization Matrix is a great tool to help you determine whether you’re spending enough time on those activities that will help you reach your goals. Urgent and important are not the same things.
Remember, there are no rules nor perfect solutions. Mix and match and see what works for you. I’d love to hear your suggestions and/or experiences. Meanwhile, I’m going to put “Write an article on Time Management” on my to-do list, because, well, it feels so good to check it off.