Monthly Archives: Jan 2015

Simple Time Management Skills That Transform Your Life

Many simple time management skills will totally change the way you live, work and have fun. You’ll go from a point of being starved for free time to enjoying abundant leisure to indulge in everything you want.

Among the simple time management skills that are most effective are learning how to turn down chores or delegate them intelligently, time your activities to get done efficiently, and focusing only on the most important tasks. Another skill you will benefit from mastering is to chunk your time into blocks.

How to chunk time into blocks for projects?

When you work on a particular task, you get into the ‘flow’ in a few minutes – and that’s broken when the rhythm is disturbed by an interruption. Several studies have shown that barely 30% of people return to the task they were doing if they were interrupted during it.

Worse, even if you manage to get back to it, the rhythm has been destroyed, making it harder to hit your stride and thereby wasting precious time. When you try and get back to the task, you’re starting all over again, and won’t reach the state of ‘flow’ for a few minutes (or hours).

The smart thing to do is ensure you are not disturbed or distracted when doing something important – for at least as long as it takes to complete the job.

Allotting chunks of time (their length depending on the nature of the work to be done) lets you enhance productivity while spending the least amount of time on the job. It is far better to spend 30 minutes undisturbed than 3 smaller time blocks of 10 minutes each on a project.

Coaches who teach simple time management skills talk about the concept of ‘protected time’ – time when everyone at home knows you should not be disturbed. That applies even to little children and only emergencies are allowed.

By clearly defining a block of time during which you will focus exclusively on a task, you increase the chance of completing it, get the work done most efficiently, and free up more time to concentrate on other jobs or have quality time to spend with family and friends.

Also, when you’re engaged upon a specific type of work, and have the tools, applications, material and people you require for it around, it makes the most sense to chunk together all related types of work so that you can optimally leverage available resources and get them all finished expediently.

One of the most simple time management skills is to work with lists. Make a list of the things you need to do and prioritize them by grouping them into 4 categories:

  • A. Absolutely must be done.
  • B. Needs to be done today
  • C. Would be nice to get done
  • D. Needs to be done at some point

You then do the things in the A column first, grouping them into common chunks and finishing them quickly. You then rework the list and do the things that now make their way into the A column and so on.

The list evolves over the course of a working day since things change over time, which is the reason you must re-prioritize it before chunking the tasks into blocks.

Time Management Tao teaches many such simple management skills rooted in the three tenets of knowing how to

Greater detail about specific elements such as learning how to focus can be gleaned from the series of Ming Vase Time Management guides.

And to continue learning simple time management skills, sign up for our free email newsletter – the “Time Taozine”. Join by submitting the form below.

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Inner Conversations

Play Blitz Chess

I enjoy playing blitz chess, where each player gets a total of 3 minutes.  It’s fast-paced, demands total concentration and delivers a quick result.

One thing I’ve noticed is that when I’m undisturbed while playing, I win around half of my games.  But when there’s even a slight distraction, I lose most of the matches.

On analyzing this, I realize that it’s because of inner conversations.

As I make my moves, I’m constantly talking to myself.

  • Silently voicing my attack plan.
  • Remarking on the other person’s moves.
  • Even egging myself on when I see a weakness to exploit in the position or structure of my opponent’s pieces.

When someone talks to me in the middle of the game, that inner conversation is disrupted.

Once broken, it’s hard to find the thread again – and that leads to defeat.

The same kind of inner conversations happen at other times.

Like while I’m browsing Facebook. I’ve suddenly become conscious of how my thoughts flow.

Sometimes, I’m commenting to myself about the awesomeness (or stupidity) of someone on my network.

Other times, I’m drawing inferences based on stuff they share or post.

And from time to time, I catch myself unintentionally comparing my life to their’s.

These inner conversations leave an impact.

When I return to whatever I was doing, energized and inspired, I realize it’s partly because of the conversations that just went on inside my head.

And when I feel apathic, tired and weary about my work, that’s also a consequence of the latest inner conversation – with myself.

They’re insidious little things, those pesky ‘silent chats’.

They often have dramatic, even deadly effect.

They need to be controlled and dominated for greatness and accomplishment.

Gaining control – and domination – over your inner conversations is probably the single most important thing to drive you forward to your goals.

It’s also a lot harder than it appears.

It takes focus, concentration and dedication.

I’m going to work harder at it… starting right now, with my next game of blitz chess!

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Uncertainty

Uncertainty

Uncertainty is a part of growing up.

Everyone is uncertain about the future. What’s going to happen tomorrow? Next month? Next year? Will it be good? Or bad?

There are only questions – never answers.

While it may not be so obvious, everyone is also uncertain about the past. Not so much about whether something happened, but about whether (or not) it was good, bad or neutral.

The only thing that is NOT uncertain is the present.

Right now.

You know what’s happening. You have the power to choose. You have time and opportunity to act on that decision.

Is that why they call it “present”? Because it’s a gift?

Taking action in the face of uncertainty – of outcome, or intent, or usefulness – is an act of courage, optimism and determination.

It signifies your intent to make things happen.

It’s your puny effort to become Fate’s rudder, turning the ship of your life in the direction you want to set sail.

Lending it power and impact are your dreams.

Dreams span a wide spectrum. There are two poles.

At one end are the “How nice it would be if…” kind of dreams.

How nice it would be if

  • I won the Powerball lottery
  • I had been the one who founded Facebook
  • I went to Stanford business school
  • I married Bill Gates’ son!

Y’know, the ones where you sit and wonder how life would be if you met or knew X, got or won Y, went to or entered or arrived at Z.

The dreams which you don’t (or can’t) do much aboutbut look forward to with all your heart.

Day dreams, really. Fond hopes. Wishes.

You need a fairy Godmother to make them come true!

At the other end of the spectrum are the “I’ll get it done, or die trying…” dreams.

These are fired by passion from your heart. They are driven by a deep-seated purpose, stuff that characterizes you existentially. Fierce motivation that’s inspiring, empowering and self-defining.

  • I work with families where parents (and grandparents) commit to giving their all to help little children with life-threatening birth defects survive – and thrive.
  • I work with small business owners who try, and fail. Get beaten down, and get back up. Who keep on trying – and eventually succeed.

These dreams need action. They involve making choices. Require extreme discipline and persistence.

And they are guided by optimism that flies in the face of pervading uncertainty.

Many dreams fall somewhere between these two extremes.

But you’ll always sense them as being closer to one or the other.

And you’ll adjust your attitude, action and affect towards making them come true.

Your passionate dreams will always be different from anyone else’s – and so they’ll matter more deeply to you than to others.

Even dreams powered by fiery passion don’t always last forever. The constant uncertainty sometimes takes a toll on them.

But remember this.

No meaningful achievement was made with absolute certainty. Great inventors, scientists, physicians, entrepreneurs, leaders – all of them faced the same uncertainty that you do today.

The difference between those who succeeded, and the others who did not, is their ability to stick onto pursue their dreams despite their uncertainty about ever making them come true!

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Always Negotiate

Negotiate
 

I negotiate a lot. With a lot of people. Even with Death.

But most of all, I negotiate with myself.

Some of these negotiations are torturous, agonizing, and their outcome is uncertain till the very end.

Towards the end of last year, I had to do it a lot. I found myself up at ungodly hours, wide awake, mind racing with uncomfortable questions about my career and professional future.

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Time Management Exercises To Boost Your Efficiency

Time management exercises can help make you more efficient and get things done. If you find yourself rushing to meet deadlines and completing projects in the last minute, then you’re going to love learning about this exciting and simple method to stop procrastinating and becoming more efficient.

Bad time management is at the root of many problems. Time management exercises can help identify areas where you need improvement. They can help you modify habits that are wasteful of time and distract you from important work.

Keep Track of Your Time

Most time management exercises begin with the simple task of tracking your usage of time. The goal is to make you think about how and where you spend time. Just something as simple as how long you speak on the phone over a week can stun and surprise you.

Make a list of your most time consuming activities. Your list might include elements like this:

  • Phone calls
  • Eating
  • Sleep
  • Entertainment (music, movies, reading etc.)
  • Watching TV
  • Web surfing
  • Homework
  • Family time

Now, beside each item on your list, list the time estimate you come up with. Then monitor this carefully over a week and record the measured numbers.

Chart Your Time Utilization

Draw a chart on a sheet of paper to document your time usage. List the activity you are doing, the time you begin and end it, the duration (in minutes) spent on it, and any other relevant comments that will help when you analyze your usage in the next step.

Evaluate Your Time Consumption

The next step in your time management test is to review the data that you have compiled. First, evaluate your judgment by looking at the actual recorded time for each activity, and compare it against the estimates you drew up earlier. How good are you at estimating time usage by activity?

Then study the details of how much time you spend on each category. You will often be shocked at how wasteful some of the items on your list are. Are you putting off high priority work while you waste time on trivia? Are you wasting time watching TV, or surfing the Web, or listening to music?

Leisure and relaxation are important. But if most of your life is spent relaxing and too little on doing work, then you need a review and change.

Set Goals

If you find that your time management exercises point towards you spending time on irrelevant or unimportant tasks, then you need to work on enhancing your efficiency. Try and find ways to utilize down time, such as when you’re traveling or waiting for an appointment. Identify areas in your list which can either be deleted completely, delegated to someone else, or handled more efficiently.

Just becoming aware of how to improve your efficiency will magically transform the way you think about time management. Time management exercises help focus your attention on important things, and remind you of the 3 major principles of Time Management Tao:

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