Escaping to Waldon Pond or traveling the country via RV are definitely options – but for most of us not viable ones. Minor adjustments that cumulate for noticeable change are much more desirable. A few time control techniques I’ve come to count on include:
Minimize Thrashing – Thrashing is the computer science term for when a system spends more time switching from task to task then actually working on the task. When we spend our time thinking about what we have to do, remembering where we were in the project, and then building up momentum to get results we are thrashing. Nothing is more frustrating than getting to the meat of a project and then having to stop. I have found the best way to minimize thrashing is to plan substantial chunks of time for a project. I’ll arrange my schedule to be able to commit 2 or 3 CONTINUOUS hours to the task. While it may be hard to find those uninterruptable hours it sure is worth it when the projects done!
Batching – Grouping small relatable tasks together to create an economy of scale yields tangible results as well. Large operations do it all the time – think of production lines, or accounts payable departments. I liken this to stopping for gas when the tank is 3/4 full. It’s just unnecessary. Waiting until you have an 1/8 of a tank or even when the empty light comes on (gasp) is more efficient. Batching work related tasks is more efficient too. Here are tasks I like to batch:
- Paying Bills – I pay them on the 1st and 15th of the month. I don’t think about it at any other time. I started by putting reminders on my calendar, but now it’s automatic and I just do it.
- Laundry – 2 big loads twice a week and it’s done. We have enough cloths that we don’t run out. I love not thinking about laundry the other days of the week.
- Phone Calls – not time essential ones, but the annoying ones when you know you’ll have to wait on hold. Mine get done once a week, and I plan other simple tasks I can do while holding.
Be Ruthless – Saying NO to things that aren’t critical opens up space for the most important things. Sometimes getting frustrated is the best thing I can do for myself. I look at the mail and just throw all the stuff I didn’t ask for right into the big recycling can. I look at my email and delete things that just don’t matter. I go through my inbox and pull out the work that has to be done and ditch the rest. I find people are truly most effective when they remove what isn’t so important – and sometimes the only way to make a big enough impact is to be ruthless. Where can you be ruthless this week?
Try these techniques and see if things are just a bit easier. I bet you’ll say YES!