Do YOU have emails to write and read, tweets to tweet, blogs to write and post, calls to return and calls to make? Oh boy! YOU may also have occasions to plan, doctors appointments to make, shopping to do, bills to pay? There might be projects that include plumbers, electricians, landscapers, painters, exterminators, and who knows who else that you might need estimates from to do various life projects? In between you need to eat, exercise, and tidy up for the next day. How to organize? How to get things done? To do this well, it’s helpful to have a system. This subject has received a good amount of attention over the last few years because of all the additional chores we need to deal with in our “interconnected” world. Many of the things that have been created to make things “easier”, have robbed much of our “chi”. Some people are born organized, some people learn it. It’s not easy for those who don’t have it in their genes. I think of it as a talent. It’s like trying to learn to be an artist. YOU can learn to be reasonably organized if you put your mind to it. With that same amount of similar effort you can’t learn to be a reasonably good artist. Here are some of the BEST tips and tools I’ve accrued over the years:
- Create a 60-60-30 plan. This is something that I learned from Eben Pagen. Work in chunks. Sixty minutes, sixty minutes, and then a thirty minute meal. When you organize yourself this way, you don’t get distracted with all the many things that keep us from getting anything actually accomplished.
- To stick to this 60-60-30 plan, get a timer. Set it so that you know when your time allotments end. There are a lot of timers out there. You can use an old fashioned kitchen timer, or one on your phone…but get one, it will keep you on track.
- Set the timer to 50 minutes, 50 minutes of work and then a 10 minute break. Something that gives you a mental break before your next work block. You can read a magazine, take a walk, do some stretching or yoga, call a friend…but be sure to set your time to stay on track before your next 50 minutes of work and 10 minute break. These breaks give you the opportunity for your mind to wander. That’s when breakthroughs and spontaneous connections are most likely to occur. You may feel that there are things that you’re involved in that need more time, but most everything benefits from a short regenerative break.
- After the next break you take a 30 minute break to eat a meal that you’ve previously planned in the morning. Remember to set your alarm. Then break for 20 minutes of relaxation afterward. You can continue afterward and do the next 2 ½ hours the same before you have a small snack. You will be amazed by how much you are able to accomplish when you schedule your day this way. It’s the focus that’s important.
- Do one thing at a time, ask yourself “Am I focused?” Bring yourself back when you’re not focused-like in meditation. The more you do this, the better you will get at it. Focus is a muscle.
- Check your email only two to three times a day. Decide when that will be and don’t stray from the schedule. Often the best plan is first thing in the morning, once after lunch and once at the end of your work day. You make the best schedule for yourself. Our dealing with our emails can be hugely distracting. Research shows that when we multitask, we actually retain less and have more difficulty applying what we learn. It also increases the time it takes for us to finish any given task by 25% because we have to reimmerse ourselves in what we were doing.
- Make a list of things that you enjoy most and that make you feel great. Make a point to schedule at least one of these things into your life each week.
- Remember to pay close attention to how long you hang onto anger. Anger is poisonous to your body. The physiological feeling of anger moves through you in a minute, after that it’s your decision whether to hang onto it. Let it go, it wastes your time. You’ve got other things to do!
Here are two other very good sources about time management: Tony Schwartz’s http://theenergyproject.com/ and a great book by Timothy Ferriss called the 4-Hour Work Week about how to escape the 9-5 and live anywhere and earn a lot of money. Have a most excellent day!
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