Life is short, and we should maximize every moment that we have. Achieving maximum efficiency is not about working non-stop until you’re too tired to stand up straight anymore. Being efficient with your time means you’ll have the time to do everything you want in a day, week, or month without feeling burned out. So the first principle toward becoming efficient, productive, and effective is the ability to prioritize your time. The problem is that sometimes we think we can do it all, but the truth is that we should only be focusing on one task at a time.
Have you ever been guilty of trying to do work while watching a movie? How did that work out for you? That’s not an effective use of your time. We either need to focus on work or focus on the play but not try to do both at the time there. The human mind was not made for multitasking. For example, you are trying to get your work done in front of the TV or iPad. The quality of your work is compromised, and you’re not thoroughly enjoying the movie either because you’re not entirely focused on it. In the end, both activities become compromised. You didn’t enjoy the film as you hoped, and the document you worked on is not as good as you know it should be. Trying to multitask is simply not a good use of your time.
You could spend years trying to find that ever-elusive work-life balance. You will spend years trying to chase this concept but never achieving it because the concept does not exist. Work-life balance is nothing more than a myth. The reality is that these two concepts are something we continually bounce back and forth from in the greater context of our lives. There will be some days when you’re working hard and some days when you are playing hard. Effective time management is about prioritizing your tasks. The foundation begins by first sitting down and taking a long, hard look at how you are currently spending your time. Then, evaluate it honestly because only then will you be able to see where improvement needs to be made. For example, squeezing a workout into your busy schedule at the end of each day might not seem urgent, but it is essential and should be placed as a priority in your program since it has compounding effects on your long-term health.
Better time management will eventually lead to better productivity when you learn how to evaluate your time better. First, assess how you spend the time that you have right now. Then, when planning for your tasks during the day, consider the goals that you have in mind for each job. The goals you set will help you decide how much effort and focus you need to put into each task. It will also help you ascertain what priority each task is on your list. For example, if a task will require a lot of time, but the main goal or outcome of the task is not on top priority, then that task should be on the bottom of your list.
The main idea behind the concept of time management and productivity is figuring out the little areas of your life that you could be maximizing. You’re trying to figure out how you can include the tasks you need to finish during the day and where they best fit into the allotted time. One example that could illustrate this point is the commute that you make daily to work. Are you maximizing the time that you spend here? Instead of feeling bored on your ride to work, you could be listening to a podcast you have been putting off or perhaps reading a chapter of a book you have been meaning to get to. Do you see how that works? In this example, you’re killing off two birds with one stone, and the best part is that you are not wasting any time. So, for example, if it was on your to-do list to read a chapter of a book for the day, then you could easily cross it off your list by the time you arrive at work. A simple but efficacious way to maximize your time, wouldn’t you say?
Imagine what it would be like if you never have to wait until the final day before something is due and yet still enjoy the benefits of being focused and productive. This is possible, but first, you are going to have to forget about multitasking altogether. Forget about the gurus and life hackers who claim that multitasking is the answer to better productivity. It is not. Multitasking is ineffective in the long run, and rather than promote better concentration; it promotes anxiety instead. Chasing the clock was never an effective strategy for becoming more productive. All that is going to do is make you more anxious, nervous, stressed, and flustered. Those feelings will only magnify when you keep checking the clock and see the deadline ticking closer, only to realize that you have barely made a dent in your work. Your focus is going to dissipate under this self-imposed and unrealistic deadline.
When you’re stressed and flustered, this is when you run the risk of making too many mistakes. You begin to overlook crucial information, slip up and get the documents mixed up, or maybe you even send an email to the wrong person. You’re becoming increasingly more agitated as you try to rush to meet your deadline goal in the hopes of quickly moving on to the next task. Multitasking is and always has been one of the biggest mistakes we have allowed ourselves to believe for far too long. It’s counterproductive, and it clutters your mind.
Don’t try to handle several things at once; if this style of working isn’t a good fit for you, then focus on one thing at a time and get it done before moving on to the next if it’s going to make you more productive. Multitasking makes us inefficient at best, and at worst, it makes us downright dangerous. Just like the example of what happens when you drive and talk on the phone, even if it is hands-free while you do it. If you want to manage your time better and boost your productivity, forget about the urge to try and do ten things at once. That is just not how your brain was wired.