How many times has it happened to you that you spend the whole day doing things and at the end of the day you have the feeling that you haven’t done anything useful? And, even worse, do you ever finish the day with more jobs pending than you had to begin with?
This is a clear demostration of the truth in the famous saying that “movement does not imply action”. You’ve spent the whole day running to end from and the end result is not very impressive.
Time is the only thing that you can never get back, so dedicating this precious resource to important things in both the personal and professional spheres is of interest to all of us and is something that we aim to achieve in our day-to-day lives. How often do we hear people say, “I need 36-hour days!”
Those important things that we pursue can be labelled in a thousand ways, but a simple option is to say that they are our goals. Each individual has their own personal and professional goals and these are what enable us to achieve self-fulfilment. There are hundreds or even thousands of manuals concerning time management, productivity, efficiency, etc.
In this post we don’t propose to summarise all of those manuals, but we would like to at least offer a few practical ideas that you can apply in your everyday life. Try them out and we’re sure that the feeling you have at the end of the day will be very different.
Hannibal of the A-Team A used to say: “I love it when a plan comes together.”
Plan your important activities at the beginning of the day. Dedicate 15 minutes at the beginning of the day to planning your day, setting at least 3 important personal and professional tasks that you want to carry out during the day. How do you know if they are important? If they are linked to your goals, they are important.
- Divide and Rule
It is proven fact that it is difficult to concentrate on a task for more than an hour. Divide your tasks into blocks of time. Rest for 5 minutes between them.
In your daily planning, decide how many blocks of time each of your tasks will take you. When you have finished the tasks compare what you estimated against what you actually achieved. In this way you will gradually adjust the plan to reality.
Remember! Don’t be too self-critical. We are always pessimistic by nature, and at first you will be a long way off target. It happens to everyone!
- Save your “Best hours for what is important”
The work day starts with important activities. The mind is more agile and you are able to concentrate better at the beginning of the day. Start the day by setting aside at least two hours to work on important tasks, which should include at least the three planned work tasks.
If you have to plan the activities of other people, do that task first and it will free you mentally of the burden and also avoid the problem of that background rumbling of having people waiting for you in the middle of the day.
- E-mail is only a means
Email is a means, not an end in itself.
- Plan the moments in which you will respond to emails. There should not be more than 4 of these a day and they should be limited in time (you will have already divided and planned this activity).
- Get rid of the pop-up telling you about emails arriving so that while you are responding you do not have interruptions.
- Close the email manager when you finish that “email moment” to avoid temptation …
Apply these three maxims, and although at the beginning you will have a strange feeling when people ask you if you have read the email and you tell them that you are not due to look at emails for another 2 hours, but later you will see how much more time you seem to have during the day.
The last trick involves a function in the mobile that allows you to synchronize the inbox on demand and not as emails arrive. Although it may seem hard to believe, you can enable it, and you won’t get palpitations of the heart through not being online; in fact, you will be much calmer and you will be the one who manages your priorities in a logical way.
I have bad news: even if you apply all the previous points, there will always be people who interrupt you, who stop you in the corridor, and doubts, questions, unplanned issues and days in which after 10 minutes the plan has gone out of the window.
It is what we might call the infinite. The reason we give it this name is very simple. If you don’t manage this type of person and task, you could spend all day dedicated to them, without making progress on any of the issues that are really connected with your goals. Set aside an hour of your time for this infinity. Educate people so they know that all these unforeseen events will be addressed in that allocated time and you’ll see how, surprisingly, some of the life and death issues can actually wait or even disappear altogether.