Time Management

87 STASHED IDEAS

Many motivational speakers have mentioned the three to four hour biological limit of creative work that can be accomplished in a day.

Great polymaths and thinkers highlight this short amount of working hours when the creative juices flow.

Manual labour, which is mostly assembly line work, or mindless administrative chores like creating reports can be done for far longer.

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@zachary56

Time Management

Instead of managing our work schedule for the entire day, it is best to earmark a time block for three to four hours of undisturbed focus work every day, preferably when the energy levels are optimal.

We need to understand the hard limit of four hours and not try to produce meaningful work by pushing ourselves all the time.

Moving on from the work guilt
  1. Recognize when you're feeling guilty and afraid that you didn't do enough. Take note of the feeling and slowly let the feeling go, with no judgments.
  2. Let yourself pause and breathe. Be kind to yourself.
  3. Remind yourself that you're allowed to do other things aside from work. Being able to rest is important so that you'll be able to give your best the next time you go to work.
  4. Take the rest. Enjoy the space you have for yourself.
Working with guilt and fear

It's a bad habit to have when it's the end of the workday yet you still feel guilty that maybe you haven't done enough, so you continue working even though it isn't the time to do so anymore.

Keeping up with this practice will only lead our bodies to be exhausted, overworked, and burnt out.

The modern workplace has an old and obsolete indicator that is still followed: time-based work measurement. Longer hours still means better work and more dedication.

Work From Home has introduced flexi-hours for many of us, and people are working close to 14 hours a day over the laptop or phone.

We are bad at estimating the time it will take to accomplish a task, as we don’t take into account our distractions, procrastination, emergencies or delays.

To counter the planning fallacy, we need to assign blocks of time which are called ‘slacks’ by behavioural scientists that act as buffer time between the scheduled tasks. Several hours of slack time added will ensure that the work is done even if it spills over the scheduled time.

With a flexible schedule, there is always more to do and nothing to signal that you’re done, because of a lack of visual cues. Sending an email at ungodly hours only adds to the cognitive load of the recipients.

For a potential solution, perhaps a good place to start is creating a work culture that discourages work email and communication in the evenings and on weekends so that even flexible work has some boundaries.

The Myth Of  Work-Life Balance

We are too flawed to manage our own schedule, predictably irrational and consistently bad at making good decisions.

There are three reasons why we behave this way:

  1. Present Bias
  2. The Planning Fallacy
  3. Social Norms.

In our pursuit of balancing our personal life and work, we often feel guilty about working past the Monday to Friday routine, but technology and Work From Home policies have made it more prevalent. Many studies show that knowledge workers who are provided flexible schedules are more productive simply because they work more hours.

We are biased towards the present moment, even though we don’t like being in the present. We will prefer 100 dollars right now than 200 dollars after a year. In our work environment, present work (like a phone call) seems urgent, even though it may not be important.

To escape from the present bias, we need to commit to our future self and set up devices that force us somehow to complete important work, not getting caught up in overdoing the present moment.

Holiday Jet Lag

The first thing to get you back in the work game is to get yourself organized.

After a wonderful rest at the end of December, getting back to work in January can feel like a struggle. But the beginning of the year is the time when your job probably starts to pick up, and so your productivity needs to pick up too.

It is a simple task that will make you feel motivated.

  • List all your to-dos for this month and sort them by urgency.
  • Then decide how you'll spend 'today'.
  • Focus on one to three big tasks and keep the rest for later in the week.
  • Try to re-schedule meetings on your calendar for later in the week.
  • If the meeting is urgent, try starting the conversation over email.
  • Make sure you are taking lots of breaks throughout the day. The easier the first day is, the easier it will be to get through the rest of the week.

After a holiday, you probably have a lot of emails.

  • Instead of trying to get to inbox zero on the first day, create three email labels: Need an answer today, Need an answer this week, Probably deletable.
  • Using the subject line alone, filter all the emails into these three folders, then only focus on the first folder today.

The stages we go trough as we deal with our work:

  • Collect what has your attention
  • Process what they mean and what to do about them
  • Organize the results and put then where they belong
  • Review as options for what we choose to do
  • Do them.
  • View the project from beyond the completion date.
  • Envision wild success.
  • Capture features, aspects, qualities you imagine in place.

Managing commitments well requires the implementation of some basic activities and behaviors:

  • If it's on your mind, your mind isn't clear. Anything you consider unfinished in any way must be captured in a trusted system outside your mind, that you know you'll come back to regularly and sort through.
  • You must clarify exactly what your commitment is and decide what you have to do, if anything, to fulfill it.
  • Once you've decided on all the actions you need to take, you must keep reminders of them organized in a system you review regularly.
  • Possible categories for nonactionable items" trash, incubation tools, and reference storage. If no action is needed on something, you toss it, "tickle" it for later reassessment, or file it so you can find the material if you need to refer to it at another time.
  • To deal with actionable things, you need a list of projects, storage or files for project plans and materials, a calendar, a list of reminders of next actions, and a list of reminders of things you're waiting for.

All of the organizational categories need to be physically contained in some form.

The GTD Decision Tree

Throughout your day, you’re constantly bombarded with information. All of these things are constantly competing for your attention.

Everything that might potentially require action must be reviewed on a frequent enough basis to keep your mind from taking back the job of remembering and reminding.

Elements of the weekly review:

  • Gather and process all your stuff
  • Review your system
  • Update your lists
  • Get clean, clear, current, and complete.
  • It creates decision-making criteria
  • It aligns resources
  • It motivates
  • It clarifies focus
  • It expands options, opens up creative thinking.
Work No Longer Has Explicit Boundaries

In the last half of the 20th century, what "work" represented in the industrialized world was transformed from an assembly line, make-it and move-it kinds of activity to "knowledge work."

Back then, work was self-evident. Now there are no edges to most of our projects.

David Allen

"When you start to make things happen, you really begin to believe you can make things happen. And that makes things happen."

  • You haven't clarified exactly what the intended outcome is.
  • You haven't decided what the very next physical action step is.
  • You haven't put reminders of the outcome and the action required in a system you trust.

Until those thoughts have been clarified and those decisions made, and the resulting data has been stored in a system that you absolutely know you will think about as often as you need to, your brain can't give up the job.

  • It's important to know what needs to be collected and how to collect it most effectively so you can process it appropriately.
  • To make the collection phase work: Every open loop must be in your collection system and out of your head, you must have as few collection buckets as you can get by with and you must empty them regularly.
  • The collection tools: physical in-basket, paper-based note-taking devices, electronic note-taking devices, voice-recording devices, e-mail.

If the negative feelings come from broken agreements, you have three options for dealing with them and eliminating the negative consequences:

  • Don't make the agreement.
  • Complete the agreement.
  • Renegotiate the agreement.

All of these can work to get rid of the unpleasant feelings.

Your mind goes through five steps to accomplish virtually any task:

  • Defining purpose and principles
  • Outcome visioning
  • Brainstorming
  • Organizing
  • Identifying next actions.

The basics principles can be summed up as follows:

  • Don't judge, challenge, evaluate, or criticize.
  • Go for quantity, not quality.
  • Put analysis and organization in the background.
The Key Ingredients of Relaxed Control
  • Clearly defined outcomes and the next actions required to move them toward closure.
  • Reminders placed in a trusted system that is reviewed regularly.
Managing Action

The essential element in managing all of your "stuff" is managing your actions. And it's very hard to manage actions if you haven't identified them.

A lack of time is not the major issue; the real problem is a lack of clarity and definition about what a project really is, and what the associated next-action steps required are. Clarifying things on the front end, when they first appear on the radar, rather than on the back end, after trouble has developed, allows people to reap the benefits of managing action.

Stuff" means anything you have allowed into your psychological or physical world that doesn't belong where it is, but for which you haven't yet determined the desired outcome and the next action step.

The reason most organizing systems haven't worked for most people is that they haven't yet transformed all the "stuff" they're trying to organize. "Stuff" means these things are not controllable.

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