“If you don’t pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention than it deserves.” — David Allen
None of us can have more time, it’s just a matter of becoming aware of our time and spending it effectively to meet our needs. We all get the same 24 hours a day, yet some make the most out of it while others end up complaining about not having enough time to do what they want, some serious time management going there — Haan!.
When you say you want to manage your time, it means that you are trying to make decisions about what to focus on. Your attention is your most valuable asset, so spend it wisely because it’s not that you have an unlimited attention reserve, you can focus only on a handful of activities during your day.
“You can do anything, but not everything.” — David Allen.
Instead of managing your time, manage yourself during the time. Focus on a single activity at a time instead of jumping between tasks.
Make sure your tasks settle in your schedule according to your energy levels. Some tasks require physical energy, while others consume mental stamina. Observe your energy levels throughout the day to see when you feel most active physically and what time of the day you are more likely to effortlessly complete mental workouts.
Before diving into your daily goals, take a look at your tasks for the day to identify the most important ones, so that you complete them on priority. Completing the tasks that are most progressive in terms of your long-term goals will give you a motivational boost and a sense of accomplishment that you already have won the most difficult feat for the day. Prioritizing the tasks that do not require innovation or creativity and are mere side activities can leave you drained for your most important tasks.
Set your goals for the day in advance, also aim for clarity when setting your goals. This way when you enter the day you already know what you are dealing with. Instead of just diving into your to-do list, make sure you are doing what needs to be done. Cluttering your to-do list with a dozen tasks is an indication of procrastination. Beware you might be pretending to be busy while something else deserves your attention.
Setting deadlines to even the most mundane tasks can help you manage your activities throughout the day. As Parkinson’s law states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. If you can complete a task in 30 minutes why spend an hour on it, but also it is vital for you not to waste the saved 30 minutes checking your social media. Be mindful of how you spend your time.
Distractions are like cancer to your time management. They feed on your precious resource without you realizing — Attention. And the next morning you wake up with a deadline staring at you and pushing all of your panic buttons. If you have to act on a single time-saving technique it’s this one — get rid of the distraction in your life to improve half of your productivity. You can get the idea that your tiny decisions to check a new email, comments on Instagram, or what others are posting on their feeds, all chip away your time and you feel like where did my entire day just went.
These techniques are a good start to take charge of your time. Adopt even a single one and you would end up implementing the rest of these techniques as well because one cannot sustain without the other for the long term.