Famine is rare in the western world. If anything, our health is more threatened by too much food instead of too little. But now we have created a huge time famine.
Our bodies were programmed to work from dawn til dusk, and the only time management was to hurry up with the plowing before daylight faded. Now our work day could extend to all twenty-four time zones. Our lap-tops and cell phones are blinking around the clock with new information that might need our prompt response. So a strategy is needed, and the science of time management enters the picture.
First, we should be more clear in our terms. We all have the same 168 hours per week. The question is "how much do we accomplish"; not "how much do we do?". If you finish your day before you finish your tasks, then stress will be the result. Thus the viscious circle of insomniacs: sleep will be interrupted by unfinished business, and business will be interrupted by unfinished sleep. Let's take a look at some solutions:
1. PLAN your time. Write down all you wish to accomplish the next day, and place a time estimate on each task. Make sure to allow for a realistic time to set up or travel between tasks. Do this also for your spare time, including weekends. If you have an endless list, and if the time for each task excedes the hours in a day, then clearly you will not get finished.
2. PRIORITIZE your tasks. Some are urgent and cannot possibly be delayed. Others are trivial, or just filler, and could easily be punted to another day or week. Like the difference between showing up for a client meeting, or noodling around on the internet to read the same chat rooms you read an hour ago. On personal time, priority is high for time to exercise, buy groceries, and enjoy your relationships. But one is not watchful, the computer screen could take over, exercise is put off for another day, the fridge gets empty, and friends are left unvisited. So enjoy your recreation, but not until you have accounted for your essentials.
3. PAMPER your self. Time and priority management may seem dry, so take care to include elements that are both fun and restorative. A hot bath at the end of the day is a good example. Deep water, aromatic salts, candlelight, soothing music, and a toy navy. Well, not the submarines. To the pure time manager, a shower is certainly more efficient. But as a stress reliever, a shower is no better than hosing yourself off in a phone booth. Also try to overlap some of your priorities. For example, time spent with your significant other doing a brisk walk could be fun, provide good conversation, and also get your excercise out of the way. Never underestimate the importance of your spare time. To maximize work efficiency, take the time to maximize your own restoration time, to recharge and reboot your energy for the next day.
So if you are feeling overwhelmed by the time famine in your life, start planning, prioritizing, and pampering. The Three "P"s will bring forth peace!
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