6 Tips for Managing Your Time Without Going Nuts

Posted: September 6, 2013 in Artist Corner
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We all seem to be asked to do more in less time. But how … without going nuts?

An earlier post on time management made these points:

  • Think time-effective. Ongoing, have a little voice asking yourself, “Is doing this task worth this much time? Should I do it less or more perfectionistically?
  • Get help where needed. An intern, someone to help you break down a big task into baby steps, or a personal assistant to drive Junior from school to soccer to home, to wait for the usually late repairer, etc.?
  • Beware time-sucks. For example, do you spend lots of time sharing sillies on Facebook? Meandering through the mall? Watching laugh-track-induced humor on sitcoms? Shooting cartoon characters with your joystick? Taking two hours to prepare dinners that are no tastier or healthier than if you, for example, threw together a family-favorite dinner salad?
  • The more productive you are, the more likely you are to feel good about your life.

Here are six more time-management tips:

Write a personal mission statement. Here’s an example: “Use my best skills – writing, speaking and listening – to help people with their career and to, nationwide, improve work-life and education.” Creating a personal mission statement concretizes what’s important to you, and so when you have discretion, you can allocate time accordingly.

Ritualize. Ritualizing parts of your life can save lots of time. For example, one person, five days a week, hikes around a lake, then deposits checks at the nearby ATM and shops at the adjacent Trader Joe’s.

For complex tasks that you frequently do, for example, conducting an employee performance review, make a checklist. Not only will that codify an efficient procedure, it will ensure you do everything that’s required.

Multitask without sacrificing quality. As an example, that daily lake-hiker brings his smartphone and a thorny problem. The hike is a great time to think because there are few distractions and because more oxygen gets to the brain when exercising. He records his thoughts on the smartphone’s voice recorder or uses the phone to listen to an audiobook, or to simply veg out by listening to his favorite tunes while enjoying nature’s beauty.

Sponge. Many days are larded with dead time: on the commute train, in line at the supermarket, in the doctor’s office waiting room. Sure, sometimes you just want to relax, but it can’t hurt to keep a sponge activity with you to soak up some of that time productively: something to read, listen to or think about.

Use The Meter: Key to living a life well-led is staying conscious of how wisely we’re spending our time. So when deciding what to do, consider making a habit of asking yourself, “What task would score high on The Meter, from -10 (selling drugs to kids) to +10 (Trying to cure cancer)?

Consider reading articles and book summaries instead of entire how-to books. On Amazon.com, one of the first-listed reader reviews often includes a summary of the book. Sure, sometimes, you’ll want to take the time to read an entire book, but consider that you can read dozens of book summaries in the time it takes to read one book.

Also, book authors often distill their best ideas into articles. At the risk of reducing this author’s book sales, before buying one of his books, you may want to read his articles, which are not only briefer but free.

The San Francisco Bay Guardian called Dr. Nemko “The Bay Area’s Best Career Coach” and he was Contributing Editor for Careers at U.S. News. His sixth and seventh books were published in 2012: How to Do Life: What They Didn’t Teach You in School and What’s the Big Idea? 39 Disruptive Proposals for a Better America. More than 1,000 of his published writings are free on www.martynemko.com. He posts here every Monday.


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