Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Time Management Tips For Professionals - Managing Your Effectiveness and Creativity with a Routine

Humans are considered, by some accounts, to be the most habitual beings on the planet.  If that is the case why do we often seem to be the most unpredictable of creatures?  I believe the answer lies in our ability to intellectualize everything that comes across our palate.  The list of possibilities of activities on which to spend our time constantly grows.  And, our inquisitive minds combine our new activities in seemingly infinite ways.  Intellect and reason overtake instinct and hard wiring and what we are often left with is far from routine.

Don't get me wrong.  These qualities are what set us aside from other beings on this planet and make us capable of all the wonderful things we witness on a daily basis.  However, if you're anything like me sometimes the thinking mind can overrun the doing mind and any sense of progress is fleeting.  I have found the key to maintaining a balance lies in working on a routine and revisiting it often.

Initial Considerations:

1.  Be flexible Be willing to bend a little bit so as make your routine adaptable to the every day world.  But do not be so flexible so as to mold and change the routine whenever the breeze blows.

2.  Cut yourself some slack You're not going to go from flitting around like a bug to light to a regimented army cadet overnight.  Nor is it probably healthy to be either.  Balance is key.  I have often been so taken with a new time management plan, diet, or other methodology that I completely immerse myself in it only to be haunted by the pounding of the clock of sustainability.  Then, boom, its all over before it even started.  Most lasting and worthwhile change is gradual.  If you go from 0 60 mph overnight its probably not going to last.  Focus on changing one habit at a time.  I like 21 day increments.  They say once you can do something for 21 days it becomes a habit.  Don't try to do it all at once.

Steps to Get Going:

1.  Conduct A Routine Audit - You already have a routine.  Bear in mind, you just need to tweak it and modify it.  Take a couple of days and start to document what you are doing with your time.  Look for patterns, trends, and similarities.  Write everything down.

2.  Categorize We all play differing roles in our lives.  Once you have your list of tasks see how those fit into different roles that you play.  For instance, some roles I play in my life are: husband, blogger, development professional, friend, son, etc.  Are there some roles that you play that currently don't have any respective tasks?  If so, do some further investigation.

3.  Compartmentalize - Determine logical task recurrence intervals: daily, weekly bi-weekly etc.  This part of the exercise is part subjective and part objective.  Some of the compartments are a result of tasks you already have.  Some compartments are a result of time you have with which you would like to fill in some tasks.

4.  Fill the gaps Now that you have categories and compartments look for missing parts.  If you have identified categories that seem to be a little short on tasks revisit those and see if there is a need to fill some in.  Don't add just for the sake of adding but ask yourself if you are hitting all the areas you need to in that particular role of your life.  Now take a look at your compartments: daily, weekly, every other day, etc.  What is the timing for your different tasks?  If you are doing something every single day, could it make more sense to switch it to every other day?  Is there a task that you should be giving more attention than once a week?

5.  Determine a plan for action The preceding steps may present you with more information than you bargained for.  However, that is the point.  You want as much information on the table as possible.  You don't want to leave anything out.  Now take this data and make a plan in attainable steps.  Take a handful of items and focus on those.  You've gotten as far as you have doing what you have been doing.  Therefore, don't take all this new data and think that you have to change everything immediately.  Manageable chunks are the way to go.


I hope you find these steps useful as you work to develop a routine.  Remember, show some resolve but don't go crazy.  What routine development techniques have worked for you?

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