Time Clock

Making the Most of Free Time

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?

Final Tip

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.

Feature Image: Seth Macey on Unsplash

The Box Theory of Communication

When it comes to passing on information I believe there are two types of people; those that can talk and those that can show. While they are not mutually exclusive, but usually a person is better at one than the other. So what does this have to do with boxes?

The Box Theory Explained

The Box Theory is how you can determine in which category a person falls. Imagine this, a person is presented with a box and are asked, how do I open this? Your target (victim) will either tell you or show you. Think for a moment about yourself, what do you prefer to do? When someone asks you something, is it easier to tell or to show?

While neither has benefits over the other, understanding how a person likes to explain things can go a long way in better communication; especially if you are the opposite. If you like people to explain things verbally, having someone show you might appear demeaning. However understanding that this is just the way that person operates, you know there is nothing sordid behind what they are doing. They are just conveying the information in the best possible way they know how.

I feel that understanding this can have further benefits in many instances; for example, during a job interview. Not everyone is comfortable with a sit down talking interview. Many people think better on their feet, and walking through an environment can give them the chance to show you something rather than just talking about it. A perfect interview should have a mix of the two, as an ideal candidate would be relatively balanced.

Understanding in which category you fall gives you the opportunity to improve. Are you the person that can brilliantly explain what object A is and what it does, but the moment you need to demonstrate you’re all thumbs? Or, are you the person who built object A, but when asked to explain how you did it your eyeballs roll back and your tongue falls out?

The key is practice, understand which type you are and practice the opposite. Personally I’m a big shower, but I’m taking steps to improve on my verbal communication skills. I start with a simple task and work my way up. Something easy, like opening a box…

There are times when both forms of communication are needed and the more balanced you are the better results you will have.

Feature Image: Project365-Day21 by Farouq Taj (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

How to Find Your Passion for Work

Words that are often spoken when finding a (new) job are, ‘Follow your Passion’. I’ve always thought of this as a ridiculous idea, and here is why.

What if my passion is sitting on the couch watching Red Dwarf reruns? Not too many job titles there… I mean, I could write a blog about the show, but is writing my thing? Reviews? Nah, they take away some of the fun.

What if I am yet to find my passion? The one thing that drives me onward regardless of success or, dare I say it, failure…

Some might say that the only way to find your passion is to try out many things, have a go at all sorts of things and eventually one of them will stick and EUREKA! You’ve done it! Your passion has been uncovered like the rough uncut diamond that it is, now go find that chisel!

But can that really work in a workplace environment? Unlikely. I’d suggest that a large majority of people work to pay the bills, there is little passion but rather just a set amount of time given up in order to gain money so they can live. Wow, that’s all a bit depressing. Well it is if you think of it like that; let’s alter that thinking slightly.

Instead of doing what you are passionate about, instead choose to be passionate about what you are doing. I’m a big believer in life being totally controlled by what we think. If you feel that you are stuck in a mundane and thankless work-a-day job then guess what, you will be. But with a tweak of our mindset, then regardless of what our work may entail we can be passionate about doing it in a spectacular way.

Even if it doesn’t lead to better things at work. You will be going home happier and with a better sense of accomplishment then before. And nothing drives creativity better then that; it makes you want to do more, learn more and achieve more.

Oh, and just so you know, I mop floors like an absolute legend!

Feature Image: Passion Fruit by Tara Severns (CC BY-NC 2.0)