At this time of year in colder climates there’s a brisk trade in caulk, weather-stripping and plastic wrapping for your windows.
It’s all designed to stop leaks, to keep the cold air out and the warm air in.
Don’t you wish there was something like that for your time?
Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as putty to plug up the holes in your schedule, but there are ways you can tame your timewasters. Here are four of them:
1) Add It Up & Get Real
Often we waste time by trying to do more than is feasible. Often we don’t have a clear idea of what we want to accomplish in a given amount of time, and we get even foggier about how long it takes to do something. Try making lists of what you want to do in a day, along with realistic time estimates. Yes, realistic. Don’t shave time off your estimate because you’ll be trying really hard. Add up the hours it will take to do your day’s work. If your total for the day is more than you have available, re-think your schedule. When your plans are in line with what you can actually accomplish, you won’t feel like you’re spinning your wheels as much.
2) One Thing at a Time
Studies have shown that multi-tasking makes us more crazy than productive. Have you ever made a terrible mistake, or come dangerously close to doing so, while talking on the phone with a colleague and reading your e-mail? Concentrate on one thing at a time and you’re more likely to get it done well and quickly. Unless, of course, one of your tasks is watching paint dry…
3) Light a Candle
Some householders walk around their homes with candles to locate drafts. Try doing the same with your schedule. Analyze your day to find the places where time slips away. Do you lose productive morning hours with Twitter? Then do your tweeting later, after you’ve checked off some key items on your to-do list.
4) Listen to Yourself
This is probably the most effective tip, and the hardest one to follow, but let’s be honest – you know when you’re wasting time. Maybe you’re lingering by the microwave watching the popcorn pop and dishing the dirt with your co-workers, or spending more time reading some inter-office report than you need to… The point is, whatever it is, you know the minutes are sliding by and yet you’re just waving at them. The next time you find yourself in this position, ask yourself why. If you’re craving a break, take a break instead of pretending to work on reduced power. Maybe you need to re-connect with your goals for the day. Whatever is prompting you to slack off, you’re much more likely to vanquish it if you acknowledge it.
And it beats looking for weather-stripping that stops time leaks.
by Danielle Dresden