Time management is a balancing act (why all your efforts to be more productive backfires)

Like all things you manage, your time is in your control, so all you need to do is decide how you want to spend it. Protect yourself from tasks overload.

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There are 168 hours every week.

And you have an average of 2,400 minutes to yourself each week.

That is a monumental amount of time. Where could it possibly go? Or better still, where are you spending all those hours?

Most of us manage our time the same ways: we use to-do lists, planners, task managers, calendars and timers to get things done. We decide our priorities by assessing the relative urgency and importance of them.


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There are many responsibilities claiming chunks of your time.

Sometimes, things can get off-balance. And they feel out of control.

You feel like a juggler trying not to drop anything.

But you can do better.

Instead of using tools to cramp your life with tasks, take control of your life, and then structure your daily work around it.
Time multipliers ask themselves: “What’s the most important thing I can do today that would free up more time tomorrow for better life management?

By thinking about how you use your time today, you are planning for a better tomorrow. That mindset can help you manage your time and energy better.

A multiplier makes choices to save and create more time now and in the future.

Many people juggle multiple projects and tasks without limit.

And they end up accomplishing little, feel unproductive, but pile on more work the next day, and feel unproductive again.

The cycle never ends.

At some point, it pays to measure how you work, and do more of what works whilst you create more time for yourself to focus on important tasks every day.

If living by strict schedules is not working for you, try something else.

Like everything else, time management is a balancing act between what needs to get done and creating time for them.

It’s about getting rid of all the unimportant stuff on your to-do list that makes you think you have so much to do and focusing on actual work.

By eliminating, or outsourcing certain activities, you will free up time for the stuff that really makes an impact. The number of tasks you get through in a day is less important than the results they create.

Prioritize your time and make room for everything you need to live a meaningful and fulfilling life.

Productivity is an experiment in progress

The perfect time management system doesn’t exist.

Getting things done is personal. Self-awareness has a lot to do with your productivity than you think.

“Productivity, effectiveness, efficiency and time management require individualization for maximum results,” says Kamyar Shah, of World Consulting Group.

Even when you have your priorities clear, finding the right time-management system can cost you more time than you think.

“We always want to solve a problem we have ourselves. And the most recurrent one is the daily mess we have in our own desk,” says Hernán Aracena, an entrepreneur who created Effortless, a to-do list app and timer.

What worked for Dwight Eisenhower may not work effectively for you.

Many techniques evolved as a particular solution for a specific problem someone else had.

By all means, try the next productivity system. If it makes you more productive, keep it. If not, scrap it. Rinse and repeat.

The right personal productivity method can make a huge difference in how you work and achieve your goals.

“A friction-less workflow can take you from feeling overwhelmed, unfocused, and unproductive to feeling calm, in control, and prepared to take on even the biggest projects,” writes Tricina Elliker.

Take control of your time and pursue a healthier relationship with work.

Like all things you manage, your time is in your control, so all you need to do is decide how you want to spend it.

Protect yourself from tasks overload. Take inventory of your commitments every week. Set boundaries if you have to and commit to them.

You don’t have to schedule activities into every minute of your day. If you are always pressed for time, start measuring how you use it and start making adjustments.

Defend your time. You lose more time if you are taking on too many tasks.

“Remember that if you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will,” says Greg McKeown.

Reclaim your time and suddenly you’ll have a whole bunch of extra time to work on your life goals, to relax and de-stress yourself, to spend time with family and friends, to read, to improve yourself, to work on a passion project, to exercise. It’ll be one of the most important things you do.

Key takeaway

There is so much you can do in a single working day.

But don’t push yourself too hard. Really, don’t do it. It’s overwhelming and exhausting. You don’t need that.

The keys to better energy and time management are to keep tasks in check, know what you are committed to, and how they help you achieve your long-term goals.

Make today a balancing act.

This article first appeared on Medium

 


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