Today authors Karen Leland and Keith Bailey offer some tips for making the most of our time. The ideas in their article are gleaned from their book, Time Management In An Instant: 60 Ways to Make the Most of Your Day.
Habits Of Action by Karen Leland and Keith Bailey
You know what you need to do. You know why you need to do it. You even know what steps you must take to get it done. But there’s one small problem: you can’t seem to get moving. It’s a common problem. Maybe it’s chronic procrastination or maybe you’re just so overwhelmed that you feel paralyzed. Either way, the task you must complete is just sitting there, gathering metaphorical (or perhaps literal) dust, and growing more ominous by the day.
A recent study by the Families and Work Institute found that a full third of Americans are overworked; more than 50 percent of those surveyed said they are either handling too many tasks at the same time or are frequently interrupted during the workday – or both. In short, we are overloaded. Is it any wonder, then, that we have trouble getting jobs started, keeping them going, or finishing them up?
As a consultant and coach over the past twenty five years I’ve observed that smart and savvy business women use three habits to get themselves to take action, even in tough times. These habits act as an inoculation against procrastination and feeling overwhelmed so that these busy women are ultimately able to press through and get things done.
Habit #1: Chunking Down: Focus on the Trees Not the Forest
In the computer world, chunking means to break things into bits. To chunk down is to move from a whole to its parts; to chunk up is to move from parts to a whole, or from the specific to the general. Chunking your projects and goals down into smaller pieces will help you take action more quickly and easily, while at the same time helping to combat the feeling of too much to do.
Habit #2: Take Energetic Credit for Completion
When we have a big goal or task to work on, many of us wait – unnecessarily and sometimes to our detriment – until the entire project is finished before we experience any sense of completion, satisfaction, or accomplishment.
Often, even though we’re achieving pieces of our projects and goals all the time, we don’t fully acknowledge them. The most productive people we know are in the habit of enthusiastically taking energetic credit for any action they complete, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant. These people know not to wait until the big item is 100 percent done before experiencing closure. Rather, they generate energy all along the way by recognizing each item they complete.
Habit #3: Time-Planning: Put a Stop to Putting It Off
Smart people are in the habit of using a time-plan to get beyond procrastination. A time-plan is a method of assigning blocks of time to those items you want to get done (but not a minute-by-minute description of your day!) To harvest the power of planning and create your own time-plan, follow these two easy steps:
Step #1: Identify your power times for different types of activities.
Everyone has high and low periods of energy, attention, and focus. By knowing and understanding your own energy patterns you can create a time-plan that takes advantage of your personal rhythms. Reflect on your own energy patterns. When are your power times? Use your power times to take on your most difficult items. Use your down time for more routine items and errands.
Step #2: Set aside blocks of time for getting certain things done.
Keeping in mind your power times, go through your calendar and schedule a specific day and period of time when you will work on an item. Time periods ranging from 15 minutes to 2 hours are most effective. Every hour or so, schedule a ten minute break from your task; this will both keep your brain from getting tired and give it a chance to process any information, so that you can return to your project refreshed.
Lastly, don’t just plan your time in your head – write it down! Whether you use a PDA, a calendar contact program, or a plain old date book, keeping a written record of your time-plan is key.
Thanks for your advice, Karen and Keith. I’ll be putting a few of your points into practice – and I’ll write them down so I don’t forget! Would you like to tell us a bit more about your book?
Karen and Keith: “In today’s hurly-burly work environment many business people find it challenging to avoid distraction, stay focused, use their time and energy to maximum benefit, and gain ground on important goals and outcomes. One study by the Families and Work Institute found that one-third of Americans are overworked and more than 50 percent of those surveyed say they are either doing too many tasks at the same time or are frequently interrupted during the workday – or both. In short, we are overloaded!
Time Management In An Instant helps the reader to overcome this feeling of overload and avoid the traps that lead to an unproductive relationship with time. It offers field-tested time habits and expert advice based on the latest research that will help the reader better manage, create and spend their time with more satisfaction and results.
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About the authors:
Karen Leland and Keith Bailey are partners in Sterling Consulting Group; an international management consulting firm. They are the best-selling authors of six books, which have been translated into ten languages. Karen and Keith have worked with over 200,000 executives, managers and front line staff in companies throughout the world including: American Express, AT&T, Oracle, Microsoft, Xerox, Marriott Hotels, IBM, Lucent Technologies and UPS. They have been featured in dozens of newspapers including: The New York Times, Fortune, Entrepreneur, Newsweek and Time. They also have extensive on-air experience and have been interviewed on The Today Show, CNN, Good Morning America and Oprah. Karen is a frequent contributor to magazines and newspapers and has written for The San Francisco Chronicle, Sales and Marketing, Incentive, Women’s Day, Self and many others. They are the co-founders of Sterling Consulting Group, which helps organizations and individuals learn how to fight distraction and find their focus in a wired world. For more information please contact: email@example.com