It all starts with good intentions.
We want to get something done. Start to finish, completed. And soon afterward, start to PROFIT, completed. It’s what happens after “start” that causes all the trouble.
You may start something and get interrupted. You may interrupt yourself with a thought popping into your head (Laundry! Coffee! Check email!) You may get distracted, which is pretty easy with all that Internet stuff whizzing past you.
What you may not do, unless you do something about it, is to get anything done that you actually intended and needed to do. And then all you did was log the time on the computer, which was so easy it didn’t feel like work. Because it wasn’t.
Don’t let the thought of effective personal time management scare you. It’s not even hard to do. Let’s look at doing three things to accomplish three tasks, just for the heck of it. You’re not limited to doing only three tasks, but it sounds better. So much for the technical explanation…
Commit a time limit to each task. You know best how fast or slow, efficient or methodical you are in your work habits. Maybe you plan it all out with outlines like in school, one single step at a time. Maybe you’re the mindmapping type, using a freeflowing this-leads-to-this-and-then-this approach with lots of lines, circles and arrows. Either way, make a good guesstimate of how long the thing you need to do will take. 30 minutes? 47 minutes? A week from next Tuesday??
Better rethink that last one.
Maybe you want to submit to a bunch of directories. Tell yourself you’ll submit to as many error-free as you can in, say, 30 minutes. Hey, if one’s got a mistake, it’s still not done. Done is the word here, so take a little extra care.
If you plan to post in some forums or comment on some blogs in your niche, choose the particular threads or posts where you want to comment or pick a topic you want to start a thread on those forums. Winging it is very, very bad with these and social stuff like Twitter and Facebook. You;ll be reading and checking out totally irrelevant stuff instead of using that time to DO something.
Whatever you want to do, give yourself a time to do it. Even if you’re just writing on the fly.
(Here’s a nice little hint for sticking to your time limit: Don’t set up instant notifications for ANYthing – your favorite forums, IM, your email, whatever. What would you do if you heard “You’ve got mail”? Yep, evvvverytime…)
Set a timer with an alarm you’ll notice If you’re like me, you’ll say to yourself, “I’ll do this for fifteen minutes” and keep looking at the clock. What are you really paying attention to, your task or the clock?
On the other hand, you may keep working obliviously along past your time limit, whistling while you work and blowing the time you needed to do other stuff.
If possible, use a non-ticking timer. Maybe I’ve seen too many movies and TV shows featuring ticking bombs, but you end up focused on that sound and not what you’re trying to accomplish. A little nerve wracking too, because of those darn movies and TV shows.
Commit to doing that task and only that task for that time limit There’s a saying, “All you can do is all you can do”. Do all you can in all the time given and make it all you can do. Turn off the phone ringer, work offline if you’re writing or at least do that writing in a text editor, tell everyone nearby not to disturb you for that time unless they’re bleeding or dead. And only do that task. Multitasking is not more efficient, it just creates more distractions to chase.
When your chosen timer sounds or blinks or squirts water on you, stop. What’d you do? Was it as much as you thought you could do? Did you finish the task? Make a note to adjust the time by five minutes or more next time.
Right now, set your timer for ten minutes for a break and grab a drink, wash some laundry, do some light kickboxing and come back when that timer does its thing. You’ve got work to do and a good way to get it done!
Thanks for the laughs,
Dan Reinhold keeps his sanity while working at home by helping others do the same at http://WAHumor.com.