Time is all we have and it can disappear without a trace.
I was sat at my desk at 8.10AM. I’d left the kids having a raucous breakfast with their mother (the kids being the raucous ones you understand).
I settled down to read my to-do list and chose the highest priority task.
The task was hard. It was coding and I needed to be in a super-sharp mood to tackle it efficiently. But I was struggling. My brain wasn’t in a super-sharp mood.
Before I knew it, it was 9.50AM. I’d got nowhere. I mean, nowhere. At all. The prickly feeling of stress started to creep in. What a waste of my precious time.
It was at this stage that I stopped and took stock. I needed a better approach to planning work. I’d taken the highest priority task, because it was the highest priority. Yet, I was not in the right frame to tackle that task efficiently. I failed and got frustrated and had wasted 1hour and 40minutes.
And then it clicked. I had to select tasks based not only on priority, but on how well I’d be able to complete that task at that time.
There’s a mood, and therefore a perfect time, for everything.
There’s a perfect time for complex coding, a perfect time for site design, a perfect time for blog writing, a perfect time for marketing, a perfect time for accounting.
So always ask yourself:
is what you are doing at that moment, the perfect time to be doing it?
If it isn’t then stop. Do the task that is the perfect task for that moment in time.
I know, sometimes the highest priority task has to be done there and then. So, how do you get into the right frame of mind for the task if you aren’t already?
Often that process starts the night before. Be aware of the task you have for the following day and begin to feel positive about your ability to tackle the task quickly and well. Imagine letting all your talents flow into the process, whether creative, analytical or industrious, making the task easy and enjoyable.
If you are working on a task that has to be done there and then, but you’re not feeling the love for it, then without doubt take a break, get outside, exercise, cat-nap – whatever it takes to get you into the right frame.
That 30 minute break will save you many more by ensuring you are in full-flow when back at work.
And, of course, always ask -
is what you are doing at that moment helping you get to where you want to be?
- and if it isn’t, then why are you doing it? Stop, and do something that is.
By following the steps outlined above I am able to avoid this:
There’s some great resources on time-management. I’ve enjoyed reading about this subject and felt it was time well-spent.
A selection of quick reads:
1 Facing burn-out.
This post by Joanna Wiebe is a great read if you are swamped and so caught up in work that your facing burn-out. Joanna Wiebe.
2 Some great practical tips to ensure quality work and life time.
This post by David Lavenda contains some really great practical tips to help ensure you have great work and life balance. David Lavenda.
I am a real advocate of this. Whenever I try and combine child-care with working the result is depressing. I get stressed as I cannot achieve the work I wanted to do nor am I enjoying spending time with my children. The kids get upset because I am not focusing on them or listening to what they have to say. The result is poor quality work time and poor quality life time.
So no more! I just won’t, and don’t, do it. Work and life is separated. End of story.
If you are struggling with getting the required structure into your day, Daniel Scalco has written a nice little blog on how to set up a routine.
Sometimes we all need some inspiration and to be able to free our minds in order to see things differently and without constraint. Well, Benjamin P. Hardy posts may well resonate with you.
In summary, from my personal perspective, being time efficient is all about choosing the right task at the right moment.
About the author: Simon Sewart is the CEO of his 2nd startup EvantoDesk.com (simple help desk software for small and medium sized businesses).