Time is running out!

it's up to you

Hi there, Indie Fixx readers. How are you doing? Remember me? I am Claudia from {a place for twiggs} and I am here drive you through a creative, happy and organized life… well… at least give you a tip or two. I wrote about Creativity & Inspiration last time I was here and today the main topic is… Time. I worked for nearly 4 years at a big consulting firm and lectured hundreds of hours on behavioural subjects, time management being just one of those. So, shall we begin?

Time will make you money, but money won’t buy you time!”… said James Taylor. Isn’t this what we should have in mind when we feel we are wasting time? Well, I could ask first if you ever feel you are wasting your time and end up with a very unproductive day. But I guess you would say yes. We all do at some point. So, we need to do something about it. We should take action because no one will do it for us.

What is time anyway?

Time is something limited, unrecoverable, democratic and free. This means that it is impossible to manage time, but we can manage ourselves. We do need to learn more about ourselves in order to manage our days. We need to pay attention to all we do during the day–when do we stop, when do we feel more productive, what do we stop for–in order to know how can we work with ourselves to improve our time management.

So what are the most common obstacles?

Phone calls, emails, disorganization, unrealistic planning, unexpected things, chronic postponement, Facebook, twitter. Do you recognize some of these? I bet you do! So what can we do to make this work? We need to work on some goals. And my friends, settings goals is not an easy task, but let’s go for it! How do we define our goals? We do need some rules… and these rules are quite easy! You just need to be SMART!

S… from specific, M… from measurable, A… from attainable, R… from realistic, T… from time-oriented.

So, a little quiz, which one is a smart goal?

  1. I want to be a happy girl!
  2. I want to spend Christmas in NYC in 2011.

Well, if you chose #2, you are on the right track, so let’s keep going!

So far, you need to 1) know yourself and what are your usual obstacles and 2) define some smart goals. What’s next?

Let’s see some personal effectiveness techniques, shall we?

1. Establishing priorities
2. Planning
3. Postponing
4. Dealing with Interruptions
5.  Organizing
6.  Memory
7.  Saying no!

1. Establishing priorities

What do you consider urgent? And what do you see as an important task? What should you do first? Well, you should do what is more important and urgent at the same time. What is important is not necessarily urgent, and what is urgent is not always important. So, you need to understand your tasks. Using the Eisenhower Matrix might help you better evaluate your tasks. See the diagram below to illustrate this technique.

2. Planning

You need to define your priorities and get to know your schedule well. And yes, you do need a schedule. Working as you feel like does not actually work. So you need to plan on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis.

You can practice by starting with a  daily plan. List the following:

  • List your activities
  • Predict some time for interruptions and unexpected things (they do happen, so plan some time for them!)
  • Define priorities
  • Evaluate the time you need
  • Reschedule if needed (you do need to be able to change things, flexibility is also a good thing!)

3. Postponing

You know when you are always postponing something for ages? Just because you never find the time for that thing… and you never really want to do it either, because there is always something better to do first? Well, stop right there! You need to review your priorities and rules.

What are these rules?

  • Work with deadlines
  • Use the salami technique (slice your tasks into smaller tasks and do one thing at a time)
  • Start by the unpleasant tasks (or those that might be a bit boring!)
  • Get rewarded (like “I will go out for a cup of coffee when I end this!”)

4. Dealing with interruptions

They do happen.  So, how to manage them? The phone rings… your mom is asking for that recipe, your best friend wants to tell you about her date last night, your colleague is asking you for some advice on a presentation….Well, you can either stop what you are doing, answer (briefly) and get to your work again or you can say “Sorry, bad timing, I will call you back/review your presentation when I am done with this, is that ok?”. You do need to learn how to say no to some things.

5. Organizing

Get a colour scheme for your emails, flags those you need to answer today.  Use tags for the piles of documents on your table… it is really up to you, but do get organized!

6. Memory

I know that this one is probably my worst feature. I have a really bad memory and realized that I had to come up with a solution to deal with it. So, I decided that I needed to write everything down. Remember, don’t be ashamed to write down everything on a meeting. Everyone has their own tolls for being productive and everyone should respect that.

7. Saying No!

How good are you at saying no? Really! You can tell me. Do you accept everything everyone asks you to do? Are you one of those helpers that everyone counts on? But do you really have the time to do all those things and sacrifice your own? Probably not. You can say yes to some things that are meaningful, but others you may need to decline. Prioritize what you say yes to. But, do remember to be nice when saying no.

So, these that’s my advice for today. Thank you for being here with me! Will I see you again? And remind yourself… It’s really up to You!

– Claudia Casal, also known as Twiggs, is an organizational psychologist in love with photography. She is the author of {a place for twiggs} blog. Read more about her on the contributors’ page.

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