One element of poor time management is thinking, ‘this task is too big, it will take too long and I don’t have that much time today’. In times like this you essentially park the task in a tiny 2 DO L8R file in a dark corner of your mind behind the I HOPE IT WILL ALL GO AWAY section. This was my thinking on almost everything; then I found a juicy nugget of FREE TIME.
Making Free Time
In reality there is no such thing as FREE TIME, but rather a structuring of time, reallocating importance and getting value from the time that we have. Let’s do a thing. Don’t worry it will be painless. Make a sketch of your day, a brief time line of what you need to get done on a daily basis and when you do it; don’t create a fantasy, this is for you only – feel free to burn it when your done.
For the record mine looks like this:
- 0700 Wake up, lie in bed on phone to 0730.
- 0730 Get up, do morning stuff – sort kids out for school, and drop them off.
- 0845 Get home from the school drop off.
- 0945 Leave for work.
- 1815 Get Home from work.
- 1830 Start getting dinner ready.
- 2030 Chilling on the couch; Kids are all done for the day.
- 2300 Bed.
When I did this I found that there was a time where nothing was happening, well a few, but lets focus on this one. From 0845 – 0945, was just me time and what was I doing with it? NOTHING! Usually sitting on the couch, coffee in hand watching half of a movie I’d seen ten times before. I was literally killing time until work. So I decided to use it, I took 45 minutes and started doing things. Every morning for about 3 months I worked outside clearing my garden and building a retaining wall, which had been a job 2 years on hold because I didn’t have the time!
Knowing The Time
Understanding how long a tasks takes is imperative to proper task management. In the example of gardening it did not matter, I just did a bit every day and that was that. But because I used a given time, now I know how much work can be done in that 45 minutes. I know how many holes I can dig, how much land I can clear, how fast I can empty a loaded trailer, and many others. This same reasoning can be applied to any task.
Make the Time, Use the Time
Give yourself a time frame, claw back some wasted time our of your day and set a task. How many words can you write in a 15 minutes? What about editing? How long do the dishes really take to do? Once you know these simple questions to tasks, you are free to work on ways to improve and get faster. I have done this same exercise with cleaning, painting, and writing. What do you think you could use it for?
I work best to music, and I set an alarm on my phone for the time period, and I work fully focused until the timer goes off. Then I bask in the glory of a completed task.