As we are working our way through time management for simplify your life I hope you will allow yourself the space to read, absorb, and implement each piece of the puzzle. Just as the whole challenge is a slow approach over a year, each block can be looked upon as a slow process rather than one week achieving something on its own.
So far we have talked about planning and priorities. This week we are going counter-intuitive and talking about slowing down. Many people seek out time management information because they want to figure out how to cram in all the things they want to “get done” and think if they just manage it all better they will achieve more in their week. My experience over time has led me to believe the key is not getting more done in a day, but rather slowing down and doing less in a day knowing in the long run we will achieve more. More of all the things that make us happy or fulfill us or pay the bills or help us care for the ones we love.
Often when we push ourselves to be hyper-productive what we actually achieve is stress, exhaustion, pressure, procrastination, mistakes, anger, resentment, ill health, and did I mention pressure?
That is why we first talked about planning so that you have a system in place to hold all those demands for when you are able to do them – rather than feeling like everything is a “right now” demand.
That is why we talked about priorities so you have a way of evaluating things and deciding what to focus on, what to let go of, what to lower your standards on, and what what you really want in this life.
That is why in the first part of simplify your life we clarified what we wanted in our lives and even discussed lowering our expectations so we could let go of perfectionism or self induced pressures.
So now I want you to shift gears – join me in doing less and finding focus. If you are a type A person like myself this will be challenging. It is something I am still battling at times. The urge to multi task that results in ruining food on the stove, dropping a dish, or half listening to someone (apologies to my mother for the times she has heard me typing while talking to her on the phone). I have learned the hard way that doing two things at once or “faster” is rarely “better”. In the long run more is not achieved and stress is higher.
The changes I made (and still work on) include:
- eliminating distractions so that when I am on one task I stay on that task (ie closing other windows while I write a blog post so I don’t dip into email)
- learning when to single task versus multi task (the trick to multi tasking is to make sure you are combining two autopilot type tasks like laundry folding and TV watching, cooking while chatting on the phone, or jogging while listening to a podcast rather than tasks that involve skill or brain work)
- building in buffer time and breathing room (leave blank time in your schedule between tasks or appointments, allow for travel time, prioritise me-time)
- choose the simpler method or option when possible (gives a savings of time, energy, stress, and even money at times)
- self care should be invested in upfront, rather than solely as a reward when you have accomplished “enough” (if left for last you will often run yourself into the ground physically or emotionally)
- focus on what is truly important (often if you look at a to-do list of 10 items only 2 are truly important and critical for that day)
Challenge this week:
1. Set yourself up for success and identify only 2 or 3 important things that you must do each day (make the shortest to-do list possible) and if you achieve those few things and have time, energy or inclination do more. “Important” is a subjective word so you are the judge each day whether “Mount Washmore” is critical or a blog post or the grocery shopping or sending out your resume.
2. Build in breathing room to your day and plan some down time – every day! Look back at your happiness list for ideas or think about how you have been feeling lately and what you know you need right now. If you are uncomfortable with unproductive time work through that urge to fill your time. Remember your important things will get done / be worked on and it is okay to do nothing or do something fun or for yourself or “just because”.
This is where having a single place to capture information can come in handy because you may be amazed at how great free time is for boosting your productivity in the long run. ”Non productive” time is often when ideas and answers flow freely. Taking a break from work to go for a run can often provide so many clear ideas that the rest of the work day flows easier, etc.
3. Focus. For this week work to eliminate multi tasking when you are doing your important brain work at the very least or from all areas if you are up for a serious challenge. As much as possible give what you are doing your undivided attention – be in that moment for as long as you need to be and rather than multi task, perhaps take an intentional break when needed and shift gears and your attention. Maybe 1 hour is too long to sit at your desk and you are multi tasking which is a sign you have had enough. Or if your mind is shifting to another “pressing need” that is weighing you down is it on your list? did you identify it as important for today? If not, can it wait until later?
Be aware of how you feel through the week, how much you get done and what worked for you.
If going slow or doing less is already a part of your life I would love for you to share any insights you have into this. Some weeks of SYL will be challenges for you and others will be areas you feel comfortable in and instead can offer up your own teachings to the group.
So often we can get to the end of the day and realise we did nothing productive despite our best intentions. I know for myself and many others this is often the result of feeling overwhelmed. By taking the pressure off and aiming to do less, but better, you will find your overall productivity increases (along with your quality of life).
Find your simple,
Link up for week fifteen (Priorities) – Please add your blog post for this week’s challenge or any simplify your life challenge you have completed. Then take a few minutes to visit 2 or 3 other SYL bloggers and show your support.