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Time Waster #10: Being a slave to your smart phone

Woman using cell phone at homeA recent UK study found that people on average check their phones 150 times a day. 150! On average, people are checking 23 times a day for messaging, 22 times for voice calls, and 18 times to get the time. Not to mention mindlessly scrolling through emails and social media. It’s almost mind-boggling to consider how much time that wastes, and how automatically we do these things without any real awareness.

Time Saver #10: Get conscious about how you use your phone (and how it uses you). Some people have found a huge improvement in their productivity (and general mental well-being) by choosing to reduce the number of functions they want their phone to serve.

Instead of being the hub of many different activities — phone calls, texts, TV shows, social media, gossip, web surfing, camera, emails, checking weather forecasts — they just pick a few important things and use the phone as an essential tool to complete those things. For example, imagine the relief from obsessive email checking you could experience (and the time you could save) if you only checked email on your computer and not on your phone. How much time could you save if you took a couple of social media apps off your phone today?

When calls come in, only answer your phone when you can talk. Only answer your phone when you can deal with what might be needed to be dealt with on the other end. If it’s urgent, they’ll call back or send a follow-up text. Remember the days of answering machines? People can still do that! They can leave a voicemail and you can get back to them when you’re done doing what matters most to you.

Practice being in charge of your phone instead of having it control you. You don’t have to respond like Pavlov’s dogs to every chime and buzz and ding. Yes, it’s an amazing tool — but we’ve gotten accustomed to thinking that everything is urgent when in reality, very few things really are. Could you dedicate 15 minutes to cultivating awareness around how you use your phone? What could that 15 minutes ultimately get you? Think of it this way: Even if each of those 150 checks only takes 30 seconds (and you know many of them take much longer), that’s still 75 minutes every single day. What could you do with that much liberated time?

By |August 26th, 2014|Time Management|0 Comments

Time Waster #9: Not being ready

We’ve all known someone — and we’ve all been someone — who’s always “getting ready to get ready.” They’re in a constant state of preparation but never seem prepared enough to truly take action. In some ways, this can be linked to creative avoidance (see week #8) — but it often wears the disguise of action while not being productively focused. It also is handy excuse when you’re terrified of taking a big leap.

Time Saver #9: Become a creature of habit. The brain thrives on routine. It loves to know what’s coming next. And the more you practice within the boundary of a productive routine that works well with who you are and how your work, the more your brain will be prepped to get right to work when those cues are activated.

For example, if you wake up at the same time each day, shower, eat breakfast, and take a ten-minute walk before you sit down to work, your brain will learn to recognize that when you’re doing those things, it’s time to start working.

Again, the assumption sometimes that structure kills creative thinking is just false. The truth is you have a greater chance of having a flash of insight or stroke of genius if you create an environment that is conducive to free-flowing thought. If you’re always flailing around trying to “get ready,” chances are high you’ll never set get set or get going.

What are three habits you’d like to develop in the coming months around maximizing your time? How can you start setting up a routine that will engrain those habits?

By |August 19th, 2014|Time Management|0 Comments

Time Waster #8: Creative avoidance (aka, procrastination)

You know you have important things to get done yet you avoid them. Procrastination is part of being human, but at what cost?

Isn’t it amazing how suddenly “urgent” certain tasks become when you’re trying to get rolling on a certain project?

Time Saver #8: Have a solid plan in place and just go for it. When you are committed to getting a project done, you will not feel the need to procrastinate or creatively avoid. Having excitement and true joy for a project usually results in energy, flow, eager anticipation — and action. The TV will not be calling your name. Social media will not be beckoning. Good productivity also means good habits. If you need to set goalposts for yourself to start as you establish these good habits, go ahead and make a game of it. Set a timer, give yourself rewards, compete with yourself — whatever motivates you to try a new behavior.

Happy woman runner win on mountain road

It’s also important to listen to the voice of procrastination sometimes. Is this a project you’re dreading? Do you wish you really weren’t doing it? Maybe it’s time to consider handing it off or breaking up with a client. Is fear driving your stalling — fear of failure, or (sometimes even stronger and more insidious) a fear of success? Take an honest look at why you’re constantly driven to distracting behaviors, and ask yourself if there’s something deeper that you need to address.

What role does procrastination most often play as it pertains to the things you say you wish you could do more of?

By |August 12th, 2014|Time Management|0 Comments

Time Waster #7: Not staying focused to tasks

How often do you catch yourself replying to emails, answering the phone when it rings, and trying to have your lunch? It has been proven that multi-tasking does not work. Our brains are not built for it, and our lives cannot sustain it.

Time Saver #7: Stick to one thing at a time and one thing only. Trust me on this one. I know it’s counter-culture. But I guarantee you will have more time if you do this. You will get the task done properly and more efficiently if you focus on one thing. Each time you get an interruption, it takes up to 20 minutes to get your focus back to where it was prior to the interruption. That is wasted time.

What are some things you can do to minimize distractions? Turn off your phone. Close the door. Turn off the “ding” sound that indicates you have a new email — or just close out your email altogether. Shut off TV or radio if they too easily pull you in.

Pay attention to what distracts you easily (it might surprise you), and do what you can to decrease the presence of those things in your environment during your work time.

By |August 5th, 2014|Time Management|0 Comments