I recently listened to a talk about time management for bloggers. The speaker loaded the 90 minutes with great ideas and advice, but I had trouble getting past his first statement, “There’s really no such thing as time management because we are all given the same amount of time. The real issue is self-management.” (That’s my paraphrase.)
Boy, did that hit home with me. When I find myself without enough time in my day it’s because I allowed things to steal that time away from me. And that is because of my own lack of self-discipline. Here are a few ways I’ve found to discipline myself better so that it seems that I have more time left over.
1. Do the worst task first.
If I have a job that I really do not want to do, I do it first. Get that bad boy out of the way and the rest of the day looks like a breeze. For me, it’s making phone calls or paying bills. I will do anything to avoid doing those tasks. So if I need to call the insurance company or mechanic, or balance my checkbook, I do that first thing.
2. Reward yourself.
If I’m tempted to go outside and play with the chicks, or sit and watch the bees fly in and out of their hive, or read “just one chapter” in my novel, I will use that as a reward for something else that must be done. I will tell myself, as though I’m both the parent and the six-year-old, “You can read a chapter after you fold the laundry.” Or, if it’s work time and I’m on the computer and that Facebook tab has a little “12” on it telling me I’m missing out on a great conversation, I will say, “You can check Facebook after you write one blog post.”
3. Use a timer.
I know, you’ve probably heard that a thousand times, but it really does work. So that my coffee break doesn’t turn into an hour, I will set the timer for 10-15 minutes so I know it’s time to get back to work. If I have several projects to complete, I will set the timer for 30 minutes to work on the first project, go get a glass of tea and come back for another 30 minute session on the next project, and so forth. That way I know that each project got some attention that day.
4. Break large projects into small segments.
This technique I use mostly for house cleaning. I hate house cleaning. And if you ever drop by unexpectedly, you will know I’m just being honest. But if you call ahead, I will use this technique to whip the place into shape. First, I make a list of all the things that need to be done:
- Clean the bathroom.
- Fold all the laundry and it put away.
- Mop the floors.
- Clean off dining room table.
- Vacuum the living room.
- Sweep the porch and water the plants.
Then, I set the timer for 15 minutes and work as fast as I can on the bathroom. When it beeps, I reset it for another 15 minutes and work as fast as I can on the laundry. When it beeps, I reset it for another 15 minutes and start mopping the floors. Then, when it beeps, I reset it and rest for 15 minutes. That is one hour. I continue in this fashion until either the list is done, or I’m out of time.
Why not just start at the top of my list and work my way to the bottom? Because I may only get the bathroom and laundry done and you will come onto my porch which is covered in leaves, enter my dining room that has some project all over the table, and you’ll stick to the tile as you walk to the living room where dust bunnies greet you from under the furniture. But, with my method, at least every area of the house will have had some attention.
Some folks are taught a more disciplined lifestyle as children and do not struggle with self-discipline as adults. Others have employers or a spouse to keep them on task. I don’t have an employer and my spouse is not home all day watching over me. That’s why I’ve developed these little tricks to help me. What do you do to help you get things done? Do you need a higher level of self management?
Leave a comment to explain how you manage your work. What tips can you share with other readers?