13 March 2014

The time stealers

What's using up your time - the time you never seem to find for the things you really want to do? As you're reading this on a screen of some sort, I'll bet one of the top time-stealers for most of us is emails and the internet ... staying connected. Which is important, of course, but maybe not always the number one priority.

This article got me thinking about time-stealers. At time of writing I have just one day to prepare for the book fair on Saturday, and lots left to do. (Yonks ago I volunteered some time to steward at the Knitting and Stitching show tomorrow, thinking - hah! - that all would be ready...) So it should be a priority to be in the studio ... ah, the many ways we sabotage ourselves!

According to the article, the four big time-stealers are:
- disappearing thoughts and ideas
- squishy priorities (...a-hem...)
- attention splatter
- no boundaries

To deal with them:
- keep a list
- give yourself deadlines
- focus on the task
- focus on your priorities

But do read the article, and the comments, one of which was the eternal question: what are your priorities if your kids are clamouring for your time? The response: "Kids will learn a lot from your behavior. If you’re putting their needs ahead of yours in everything you do, they will miss a strong maternal role model."

Other problems mentioned: getting sidetracked by social media; "finding creativity in the time allotted" [my answer: do some work and the creativity will come ... but then I'm grouchy about "creativity" and "inspiration"]. Some helpful hints - write down your priorities and put them where you can see them; try the Pomodoro technique, which essentially involves using a timer to help you focus.

One thing that, in my opinion, isn't a time stealer is taking breaks, especially if they involve moving around. Taking a few minutes to fit in a small housework task, or getting out for a quick walk to clear your brain. It was a misty morning and getting out into it was my first priority today -
Parkland Walk, London N4
Another time management technique, learned the hard way, is to have a start time - and just as important - a stop time. The intervals, for specific tasks, especially dreaded ones, can be short, and again a time is so useful. Today, 9.00 is my "start in the studio time" - and 5.00 is the stop time. It's helpful to know the available timespan (six hours actual work time) and be able to divide what needs to be done (I have a list and will be sticking to the priorities on it) into the time available.

You don't "find" time - you make it through spending it on your priorities. Top tool seems to be ... focus.

(Update: interesting to find this reflagged at timemanagementmagazine.com.)


JAQUINTA said...

using a timer really works for me


Diane-crewe said...

food for (non-time stealing) thought x

The Idaho Beauty said...

Excellent reminders. I'm struggling right and realize it's partly with setting a start time. I've tried a variety of scenarios of placement of things that take up/make up my day, but don't have that firm start time for any of it. Need to grow a spine!

irene macwilliam said...

Just to wish you good luck with the book fair tomorrow.