Time Management


Working by event-time prioritizes the work over the schedule (e.g., starting work when ready and stopping when one needs a break). 

Viewing work tasks as natural events not only emphasizes effectiveness over efficiency, it also increases perceptions of control over time and greater enjoyment of the task.

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Time Management

Objective Vs Subjective Time

Whereas objective time focuses on the clock and calendar as a measure of time external to individuals, subjective time brings in the internal, personal experience of time.

In this way, subjective time reflects how people perceive, interpret, and mentally travel through time, using memories and forecasts to make sense of the present. 

There is no objective time without a subjective interpretation of it.

Deadlines are an example of a subjective interpretation of objective time. Many deadlines we perceive as “real” are anything but. Instead, deadlines are socially constructed dates to plan one’s work and synchronize with others. 

People often relive past experiences or “pre-live” future events, looking for stories that make sense of these experiences in the present moment.

Such meaning cannot be found in objective time, which portrays time as constant and immutable. If all units of time are equivalent, then one time period means no more or less than any other. In contrast, the meaning of subjective time derives from spending one’s hours and days on purposeful and significant activities. 

  • Build a habit. Learn to identify the things you need to do in order to make your goals into reality and practice them daily.
  • Share your intention with your team so that they know when you're available. Being able to communicate the importance of your uninterrupted productive time ultimately benefits everyone.
  • Assess your work environment. Any part of your work environment that doesn't support your energy management should be dialed down. Your environment should match your needs.
  1. In order to have a structured work-life balance, you need to know your internal clock. Your circadian rhythm impacts your energy throughout the day and to be efficient you should match your chronotype with your work style.
  2. Proactively bucket your meetings into chunks. Arrange your calendar events to make room for uninterrupted focus time.
  3. Go off the grid. Turn on 'do not disturb' outside of work hours.
  4. Rely on your peers.
  5. Observe and reflect on how you spend your time during the day.
Manage your expectations about what you can accomplish

Before making a time block, learn how to properly estimate your workload for the day in order for you to be able to successfully accomplish tasks.

Your tasks need to be doable within the span of time that you've assigned for it. To do so, you must prioritize what needs to be done during the day and what can wait for tomorrow.

If you remember a negative emotional response that triggered past procrastination, start thinking about how you can reframe the task. You can look at the task as an opportunity to learn a new skill, or frame it as a fun and enjoyable task.

Don't beat yourself up too much if you've procrastinated. It's not some sort of moral failure. A little bit of self-compassion might be all you ned to get back on track.

Motivation often follows action. If you just do something immediately without stopping to think about why you don't want to do it, you will succeed better.

  • Next time you don't like doing a minor task, ask yourself: what is the next step I need to take on this little task? It will move your attention off your feelings and onto your action.
  • Another trick is to pair the smaller tasks with larger ones.
When tiny tasks become major irritants

We put off small jobs, like a quick email to a colleague or menial paperwork. We keep putting it off. We waste time thinking about how annoying the task is, but it does not go away.

These small tasks take up a considerable amount of space in our minds. But there are simple ways to bring them back to size.

Procrastination involves the voluntary putting off a simple task, even though you will be worse off for doing so.

Procrastinating has little to do with poor time management. It's really about mood management.

  • Procrastinators are self-critical. The worry drains their cognitive resources, reducing their ability to problem solve.
  • Small tasks also lack hard deadlines. We think we can just slip them in during the day.
The 'enclothed cognition' effect

We know that what we wear affects our mindset. Our work attire helps us into our role.

Researchers found that volunteers performed better on attention-related tasks when they put on a doctor's lab coat. Another 2014 study found that volunteers negotiated more effectively when they wore a black suit compared to those who wore a tracksuit.

When working from home, even though your colleagues might not see you in your pyjamas, you could be losing out on the psychological benefit of dressing for work.

Other tips for increasing productivity when working from home include setting aside specific hours and creating a particular space for your work.

Once some people complete their to-do list, they add more work. This is a dangerous move that can sabotage your productivity.
Sources of open loops:

  • Studying. Do you have a specific list of learning activities, or do you just "study"?
  • Exercising. Do you follow a workout, or do you just exercise?
  • Work. Do you work from 9-5, or do you finish a list?
  • Writing. Do you write in hours, or number of words?
  • Communication. Do you speak when it's important, or just of fill dead air?

When you have countless open loops in your life, you will never be able to relax.

  • Define exactly what you need to do. In blogging, it could be getting a certain traffic volume or sustaining a certain posting rate.
  • Define exactly what you will commit to. There will always be more to do. Close the ends by defining the amount you are willing to commit to.
  • Define exactly the tasks that need to be done. Make a to-do list for each day and week.
  • When you've finished, stop and enjoy your time off.
Open-ended tasks

Open-ended tasks are any tasks that don't have a definite endpoint. Activities like "studying", "working" or "tweaking" waste your time and cause procrastination. "I should really study" is open-ended because it does not have a specific to-do list to learn the material.

A solution is to close all the ends. Set up specific to-do lists which outlines your tasks on what needs to be done. When the to-do list is completed, you stop.

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