Time Management

96 STASHED IDEAS

Distraction vs traction

The best way to understand the term "distraction" is to know what it is not. It's not focus. Distraction is something that pulls us away from what we want. Traction is the opposite of distraction. It is the action that moves us toward what we really want.

The difference between traction and distraction is planning. There's little wrong with scrolling through Facebook or watching YouTube videos if you plan to do so. It is when you do it without the intention that it becomes problematic.

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@ang301

Time Management

A schedule maker is a tool for building a weekly template for how you plan to spend your time. With a weekly schedule, you'll always know the difference between traction and distraction.

Time is a valuable asset. One way to guard our time is to use a schedule maker. Using it can significantly reduce the number of distractions and improve how we spend our time.

Our Perception Of Time
  • Our sense of how time passes speeds up as we reach middle age. Years rush by faster and we all wonder where did the summer go?
  • Our perception of time starts accelerating and the reason may be our decreased mindfulness about our surroundings.
  • As we grow older, we categorize each day or activity as a generic type of experience, like ‘workday’, or ‘beach walk, or ‘Sunday Golf’.
  • Time flies when we are having fun or are in a highly aroused state, something which Einstein noted when he studied the relativity of time, and how emotions change our time perception.

The practice of mindfulness and savouring every moment will help us counter the speed of life.

  • New studies show that the increased speed of time as we grow older might now be only related to ageing or having fewer new experiences, but due to the way we experience an event.
  • If we focus on the present moment, like when we are chewing food, or watching a sunset, we can experience it more vividly and literary slow down time. More attention also means better memory, as it encodes more data in an improved manner inside our brain.
Parkinson’s Law

Parkinson’s Law states that work expands to fill the time allocated to it.

We should give ourselves a self-imposed deadline to complete a task. It will ensure that we avoid unnecessary time-wasting and that we actually get stuff done.

  • The stressful work, stuff that we don’t want to do, or are not in control of, will feel depleting as there is no motivation to do so.
  • If we are motivated to do something, and it is rewarding for us in any way, we can be pushed towards doing it beyond our physical capability and yet not exhaust ourselves.
Mental Fatigue: The Depleting Desk Work

Many people wonder how a desk job can be so mentally tiring. The ego-depletion theory states that there is a limited amount of mental energy which we consume while sitting and working, just like a gas tank guzzles up all the gas till it’s empty.

This theory is being challenged, as we may be wrong on how our brains and bodies consume energy.

It turns out that the things that we aren’t motivated to do, and yet have to do (like going on a sales call, or making a report) will tire us out quickly, but the things that we love to do, or are doing on our own accord (like scrolling through Instagram) do not cause any psychological fatigue.

The Planning Fallacy

The Planning Fallacy is a prediction error that one repeatedly makes, misestimating the time it takes to complete a certain task.

This usually happens when trying to complete an unpleasant or stressful task, leading to postponement, procrastination and eventually missed deadlines.

If we can avoid the urgent tasks and focus on important ones, we can take care of our long-term goals.

Many small, mindless, menial tasks seem important and urgent to us, as they provide us with a rush of accomplishment. Answering a phone call or an email demand quick and immediate action and provide an illusion of urgency, even though they may be trivial.

Things usually do not happen as we expect them to be. Our inner view of things (our cognitive bias) is shattered with unexpected obstacles, delays and interruptions.

Instead of relying on your own subjectivity and frame of reference, check out your previous experiences and take an external view of things, which may be more realistic.

The workplace is a competitive zone, and enthusiastic workers take an unfair lead even though their plans are unrealistic and overly optimistic.

You don’t need to succumb to the pressure, once you understand how the planning fallacy works. The outcome will provide clarity to all.

We assume we have more time than we really do, and we will get the job done quickly. Tasks like filing one’s tax return, catching a plane, investing in one’s health and other life demands become difficult with this basic assumption.

The planning fallacy affects our work satisfaction and health, leading to stress and burnout.

Asking for an opinion from someone who is not neck-deep in cognitive biases due to being too close to the subject matter may be an eye opener.

Asking for open and honest feedback will provide you with valuable insights and direction.

Time isn’t our enemy and we can work with time to maximize our productivity. The Pomodoro technique teaches us to work in short focused time slots of 20 to 40 minutes, and then give yourself a break.

You can chop long and complex tasks into manageable chunks of activity, and keep yourself away from urgent but unimportant tasks.

Our original plans and goals sometimes become the cognitive biases that do not let us work on a daily basis. They anchor themselves in our brain from the time we decided to set the goal. Our initial predictions, expectations or assessments may not be accurate and may need major or minor tweaks.

We need to focus on the current situation in a realistic manner and understand that every day is new.

People around us want our time and attention, which is increasingly precious and scarce.

Gossiping or unwanted chatting eats away from our work without us even realizing it. If we say ‘no’ to the time bullies that surround us, people may not like it initially but will learn to respect your time.

  • We often feel overwhelmed to try something as it appears too big and undoable (like writing a book), leading to us not even starting it.
  • Breaking down a task into clean, small doable actions makes us accomplish the same.
  • The step by step approach makes work more manageable. Even the climb to Mt Everest is done one step at a time.
  • Tasks start to appear less intimidating and easy to do, making us create tight deadlines and experience frequent accomplishments.

"What can go wrong, will go wrong".— Murphy’s Law

Applying a pessimistic approach to work makes us curb our enthusiasm and work more realistically. We will ditch the cheery outlook and work on meeting the deadlines, prioritizing what’s important while leaving out the fluff.

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