30 Aug

It’s Easier To Manage Time When It Is Precious

Blog No Comments by Travis Jones

It’s Easier to Manage Time When It Is PreciousIt has become a cultural adage that “time is our most precious commodity.” It is the thing that most people would wish for more of on their deathbeds and yet, almost none of us live as if it’s true. It is evident in the ways we casually pine away hours playing games, watching TV, or browsing social media. It is also evident in our obsession with packing every minute with an impossible amount of tasks to accomplish. Both tendencies treat time as a commodity, but neither treats it as precious.

What if we thought of time in the same ways we do other things we value, like money? So instead of gauging someone’s success by their financial worth, we measured them by their wealth of time and how they used it. We could ask questions like “How much time do you make a year” or “How are you spending your time”, without receiving funny looks. There is an interesting movie (albeit sub par acting), In Time, that imagines exactly this kind of world. In the movie, people spend their lives working for and accumulating time, not dollars. Although fictional, the movie is a creative portrayal of the hidden reality that it is true for all of us; that time is the great invisible dollar that dictates much of our lives. I highly recommend watching it.

The first step to improving your time management is to gain a new appreciation for the preciousness of time. Calendars, busy schedules, appointments, and obligations can create the illusion that time is no longer yours but owned by someone, or something, else. It is not; time is yours, and it is precious. A practical way to start taking back and valuing your time is to do things that “give you back” time that is lost on unimportant things and makes the time you do spend, more valuable. Here are a few steps you can take to start taking back your time:

1. Sleep, Exercise, and Play

Most of us immediately sacrifice sleep, exercise or play when our schedules fill up because they are seen as less vital and are easy to cut short. I am guilty of this far too often. As you know from experience, this is counter-productive. What we gain in “extra” time is lost when the sacrifice catches up to us. Resist the urge to skip on these things and reap the benefits of more valuable time later.

2. Prioritize

You should be prioritizing your time in the same ways you prioritize your financial budget. Experts in time management agree that accomplishing the day’s most difficult tasks first will help you accomplish more and eliminate unnecessary tasks from your list. After spending your most productive time on the most urgent tasks, you are free to spend the “left over” time more liberally.

3. Make Time Precious

The final, and most important, step you can take to begin revaluing your time is to start viewing and treating time as a precious commodity. It takes constant reminding of this fact, because time is hard to measure and is easily hidden behind more tangible things like money. This shift in perspective will not only change the way you organize your professional life, but it will change the way you spend time in your relationships, community, and social life.

Manage Your Time & Get Organized!

 

28 Aug

Time Management for Working Moms

Blog 2 Comments by Travis Jones

Time Management for Working MomsEveryone has the same amount of hours in the day, but because not everyone has an equal share of tasks to accomplish, not really. The way women and men divide up their time (between work, child care, and household duties) has been of interest to social scientists for several decades. What has always been the case is that mothers, even the 21st century working mom, have had to deal with the “invisible” shifts of childcare and housework in ways fathers never have. Although these inequalities of time and tasks are drastically changing with the rise of women working outside the home and fathers bearing some of the “invisible” burden, the time constraints on women is still far greater than men.

It is no surprise then that the wealth of information on time management tips for working mothers is large and growing. Before I offer any tips of my own, it should be said that the time inequality that working mothers face should first be exposed for what it is. It’s just not fair that women should have to carry these extra burdens, and then be expected to adopt more strategies to cope with them without first addressing the root problem. There is no real nice way to say it. But since this is a deeply rooted issue in our society (and won’t be fixed by this post) and a very real part of many women’s lives, it’s still important to talk about strategies for dealing with the time constraints. Below are two suggestions that begin to unravel the inequality of time and offer practical steps to ease some of the burden.

First, prioritization is an essential skill for working mothers (and fathers) in the busy lives of 21st century parents. For working mothers especially, the skill of prioritizing what is most essential and time sensitive is the first step of relieving time related stress. Juggling the myriad demands of housework, career, family, and children can be daunting and requires practical strategies to manage. One way to be more productive, and avoid being overwhelmed, is to prioritize your daily tasks into categories of “urgent”, “that can wait”, or “that’s not important.” The advantage of visualizing such lists is that your mind now has a starting point, a workable checklist, and a tangible picture of what actually must be done.

Second, working mothers should delegate. It is not the duty or a given obligation to unequally carry the burdens of a family, especially if there are helping hands close by.  Every working mother’s circumstance is different but, assuming that they are working a second invisible shift of household chores, childcare and other familial duties without help, some tasks should be delegated to spread the “wealth” of responsibility and ease some of the stress from being overworked.  This may come in the form of sharing duties to pick children up from various activities, dividing up household chores on a weekly basis, or assigning members of the family to skill related tasks. Delegating out responsibilities to your loved ones will not only free you up to be more productive for what is most important, but will help you “win” back some time in your day to keep you more healthy and happy.

So until we reach a more equitable culture of shared responsibility, working mothers, and their families, should prioritize and delegate as first steps to making its actualization possible.

Manage Your Time & Get Organized!

 

27 Aug

Organize Your Way to Productivity

Blog No Comments by Travis Jones

Organize Your Way to ProductivityNo one accidentally becomes productive. Every successful and productive person you know made purposeful and organized steps to achieve their goals. It is no surprise therefore that the list of organization and time management systems, and the people that promote them, is literally endless. The bottom line is that if you want to be more productive, you must have a system. In this post, I want to urge you not only to find a system, but to find a system that is right for you.

The breadth of research and programs on time management can be overwhelming, especially in light of each system’s claim to be the universal solution for everyone. The best time management systems however are one’s that allow for flexibility and incorporate the various working styles that makes each one of us unique. Since we have different organizational needs and personalities, we each need a system of organization that fully incorporates who we are as individuals and our tendencies for disorganization and procrastination. For example, everyone has a different internal “clock” that determines which part of the day is the most productive; Some are more productive in the early morning hours before the busyness of the day begins, while others, like myself, prefer working late into the night when most everyone else is asleep. This difference in productive rhythm means that a “one-size-fits-all” time management system will inevitably be more successful for some than for others.

Another difference is that each of us varies on a spectrum of self-motivation and natural success with deadlines and reaching time sensitive goals. So a more rigid time management system will work better for someone who is not naturally inclined to set their own agenda under time constraints and will be less effective for those who already thrive within an ordered, calendar driven schedule.  The problem is locating our various tendencies and discovering the time management system that is right for us. It can take years to pin point your work idiosyncrasies and the circumstances in which you are most productive, so beginning the narrowing process as soon as possible is vital.

Here are a few recommendations to get you started: First, find someone successful you admire who is similar to you in personality and work style, and ask them about their organization strategies and time management tips. People are generally eager to share their insights and experiences with anyone willing to listen and learn. Second, choose a system that you like and stick with it for a predetermined amount of time. You will never know under which method you thrive the most if you never try one out. Trying various time management methods will not only ensure you are making progress in productivity, but with every attempt, you are getting that much closer to narrowing down exactly what system works best for you.

The key is not just choosing a productivity plan and sticking with it, but choosing a plan that best fits all of your characteristics and needs. This is the way that productivity actually sticks.

Manage Your Time & Get Organized!

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