Time Management Leftovers

This week, many of us will surely be eating a ton of Thanksgiving leftovers, but what about your time management leftovers?

The days after Thanksgiving are famous for turkey sandwiches, turkey soup, cold sweet potatoes, the last piece of pumpkin pie, and all of the other food that escaped consumption on Thanksgiving. However, there is always that one leftover that never gets eaten. It ends up in the back of the fridge, alone and forgotten, until we eventually throw it out a few weeks later.

For me, that leftover is mashed potatoes. My family loves mashed potatoes, so we usually make more pounds of it than we could ever possibly eat. Then, we forget about them and end up throwing them away.

Perpetual Leftovers

If we’re not careful, we have this situation with time management too. After we take care of our priorities for the day, there are those few “leftover” tasks that keep getting rolled over onto the next day’s “choose to list.” We usually end up completing most of these leftovers within a few days…except that one task that never seems to make it to the top of our list.

We have two options with this perpetual leftover task.

1)      Decide to make it a priority
2)      Remove it from our list

If the task is important, set a date to add it to the top of your list. If your life is moving along just fine without the task, then why is it on your list to begin with? It’s an unnecessary leftover.

As for my Thanksgiving situation, I am choosing option number two and making far fewer mashed potatoes next year. For my time management leftovers, I’m choosing option number one and finally making my leftovers a priority. What will you decide?

Technorati Keywords Time Management, Efficiency,

The 30-Day Time Managment Challenge

Don’t let your fear of a big task get in the way of taking the first step. That is the idea behind National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short). During the month of November, aspiring novelists can sign up with NaNoWriMo.org and pledge to write a 50,000 word novel (about 175 pages) between November 1st and November 30th.

While this may seem like an insanely short amount of time to write such a lengthy piece, there is one rather large catch to the whole process: it doesn’t have to be good.

NaNoWriMo is all about quantity, not quality. The idea is that aspiring novelists often get caught up in the planning and editing process in an attempt to make their novels perfect. However, instead of ending up with a “perfect” novel, they end up with a perpetually unfinished one.

The purpose of NaNoWriMo is to create a finished product, even if it isn’t very good, with the assumption that you can always go back and revise later, but at least it’s done. It is also much easier to sit down and write once you’ve removed the pressure that it has to be your most brilliant work.

Removing the Need for Perfection

While we don’t all aspire to be novelists, we surely all have some big task in our lives that we dream of accomplishing, but haven’t found time to do. I challenge you to take a page out of this book (pun intended.) Remove the pressure that it has to be your best work, and simply start working.

Too often, we let our pursuit of perfection get in the way of productivity. A mediocre finished product is always better than a “perfect” half-finished one. What have you always dreamed of accomplishing? Try making December or even January your month to finish that big task you’ve always wanted to. (You can even give your month a hip abbreviation.)

Let me know what you decide to finish. Over 30,000 people wrote a novel during NaNoWriMo last year. What will your accomplishment be?

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Technorati Keywords Time Management, Efficiency,

Photo Credit: Renjith Krishnan

What is Your Time Worth?

Time is Money. We’ve all heard this saying so many times that it almost loses its effectiveness, but this weekend I was reminded of how true it really is.

I grew up learning that it’s always better to know how to do things yourself rather than paying someone else to do it. My dad did all of the landscaping. My mom did all of the painting. I never had a store-bought Halloween costume and my sister and I had an awesome tree house made out of scrap wood from our garage.

I carried these habits into my adult life. Because of that, I now know how to do so much more and have saved more money than if I had tried to find people to do these things for me.

The Value of Our Time

This past weekend we moved into our new house. I cannot think of a busier or more stressful time to have placed such an event, but such is life! I was wondering how in the world we were doing to do all of this, until my husband suggested we hire movers to take care of it all.

My first thought was, “No! That’s not how we do it! We rent a U-Haul, we load it ourselves, we unload it ourselves and that’s that!” But then I realized I wasn’t placing a high enough value on my own time.

Sure, we could have moved all of our stuff ourselves, but it would have taken several days. I wasn’t necessarily just paying someone to do something that I didn’t want to do, I was paying someone to free up time in my schedule.

Every hour I didn’t have to spend moving I could spend grading projects for my class, working on my doctoral projects, getting speaking gigs, etc…I wasn’t paying a mover 30 dollars an hour to move my furniture as much as I was paying 30 dollars an hour to have that time free for other things.

I am certainly not advocating that we all spend our last dime paying people to do things for us. However, if you’re anything like me, it’s good to have a reminder once in a while that we don’t have to do everything ourselves either. Our time is extremely valuable and we owe it to ourselves to use it wisely.

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Technorati Keywords Time Management, Efficiency,

Photo Credit: Renjith Krishnan

The Rule of Three

Do you have more than three big things on your plate at any given time? If so, you might be overloading yourself.

This weekend, I stumbled across an article in a parenting magazine that I found surprisingly relevant to time management. (It should be noted that I am not a parent, however, when you’re on an airplane and forget to bring a book, you’re at the mercy of whatever reading material the person before you left in the seat-back pocket.)

The article was about how to make sure your child is engaged in enough activities with out being overloaded with too many things. The author referenced something called “The Rule of Three.”

The Rule of Three comes from the chain of command in the U.S. Marine Corps. Apparently, Marines are given no more than three things to worry about at any given time. There are three people assigned to a fire team with the fourth being their leader. Three teams are assigned to one squad and three squads are assigned to one platoon. The number “3” wasn’t just chosen at random either. The Marines experimented with a “Rule of Four,” and a “Rule of Two,” neither of which was as effective and efficient.

The point of the parenting article was to say that if you have your child involved in more than three activities (including school) you are asking them to keep track of more than a Marine, and that just isn’t fair!

When I read this, I couldn’t help but think that this is good advice for everyone, not just for parents of stressed-out children. Do we have the luxury of being able to limit ourselves to three things at a time? Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. Often, if we want to go to school, or have a job, or make time for our families and friends, we will end up with far more than three things to keep track of.

Therefore, I think The Rule of Three applies to focus almost more than involvement. You may be involved with countless responsibilities, but recognize that you’ll have to scale back your focus on some while you increase your involvement in others. This type of balance is what The Time Diet is all about.

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Time Management, Efficiency,

Photo Credit: Teerapun