Why Urgent Is Easy But Planning Is Hard

Time Management UrgentWhen you stare at your to-do list, you subconsciously look for three things:

Tasks that are easy
Tasks that are urgent and
Tasks that are important.

When only one task stands out as fitting all of those categories, deciding what to do first is a no-brainer. On the other hand, when everything feels urgent, we have a stressful problem I like to call “Priority Paralysis,” but what about when nothing feels urgent? Here are three reasons an urgent-free to-do list can be a problem and what to do about it!

1. We don’t know what to do first

Urgent vs non-urgent tasks make prioritizing easy, but if “urgent” is the only thing you look for when deciding which task to tackle, what happens when nothing presents an urgent deadline? You don’t know what to do first! This is why The Time Diet is based on categorizing. Pick a Meat task (difficult) Vegetable task (easy) and Dessert task (fun) to focus on during your day. That gives you some parameters to help structure your schedule in a way that ensures you’ll get ahead on your non-urgent tasks while maintaining balance in your day.

2. We’re likely to procrastinate

Another problem with an urgent-free to-do list is that we’re tempted to do nothing! It’s easy to procrastinate when none of our deadlines are urgent at the moment. Remember, if you only deal with tasks when they are urgent, that ensures that you’ll always be faced with a last minute stressful time crunch. Try scheduling “start dates” in your calendar for each “due date.” It’s easy to say we’ll begin something later, but a start date defines exactly when “later” is.

3. We waste time

When we aren’t up against the pressure of an urgent deadline, it’s easy to allow Time Killers to distract us. When people thrive on the pressure of a deadline, it’s often because there is  less time to be distracted and it forces them to focus and work more efficiently. This concept is called Parkinson’s Law, which says that work expands to fill the time we give it. Try removing Time Killers (smartphone, Facebook, etc…) even while you complete non-urgent work so you finish faster.

A non-urgent to-do list is definitely something to celebrate, but not ignore. You’ll never eliminate last-minute time crunch crises, but by efficiently organizing your non-urgent tasks, you’ll be able to decrease the amount of time spent up against a deadline.

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Time Management Book for Students

Time Management Book for Students

5 Things To Do In 30 Minutes Per Day

Time Management 30 MinutesIf you absolutely needed to, could you find an extra 30 minutes in your day? That extra half an hour might not seem like much, but if you make the time each day, it can add up to a lot over time! It might mean getting up a little earlier, finding more focus in your day, or cutting down on your social media/internet surfing time. However you find it, here are 5 things you can do in those 30 extra minutes that produce big results.

1. Get in Shape

I know, I know. We never have enough time to exercise. Why not use those 30 minutes to work out at home? You’ll save time by not driving to and from the gym. Try this 30-minute at home workout, or one of the many others available online.

2. Learn a Skill

Have you always wanted to learn to play the piano? Or be more proficient at Excel or Photoshop? Why not learn? “How-to” information has never been more readily available. Either buy a book and slowly work your way through it, or use an online course website such as Udemy to learn things you never thought you’d have time for.

3. Follow Up

It’s easy to get lost in the quagmire of a full inbox and forget to reach out to contacts we’ve met recently. Why not use those 30 minutes to follow up with new people and keep in touch with old friends or clients. Staying in touch is the only way to maximize your ever-growing network.

4. Accomplish a “Some Day” Task

Have you always wanted to write a book? Organize your garage? Re-finish that furniture? Huge tasks like this seem daunting, so we continue to put them off until “some day.” In reality, “some day” doesn’t have to be one 24-hour time period. Use your 30 minutes a day to tackle one tiny piece of that task at a time. You’ll be surprised how quickly you’re finished!

5. Clean

Who in the world has time to devote a whole day to housecleaning? Use your new-found 30 minutes to tackle a few tasks each day. Perhaps one day you clean the bathrooms, another day you vacuum, another day deal with clutter, etc… It’s much easier to stay on top of cleaning when you set aside tiny bits of time for it in your schedule than when you wait for it to get overwhelming.

Where will YOU find your 30 minutes a day and what will you do with it?

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Would You Survive the 24-hour Smartphone Challenge?

I am addicted to my smartphone. There, I said it. Every time I pull it out of my purse, I feel like a 5-year old on Christmas morning. I slide my finger across the unlock screen in gleeful anticipation of finding this oh so fabulous symbol:Time management gmail

So many fun and exciting things could be waiting behind that tiny icon. Will it be a new gig request? A new book sale? Somebody commenting on my witty Facebook status? Or perhaps just a solicitation from a store I shopped at once and never plan to visit again. The possibilities are endless.

My Challenge

When I need to focus, I put this magical device out of reach so it won’t be a distraction, but recently I’ve noticed that it’s started to distract me during non-work activities as well. When I found myself scrolling through Facebook in the middle of Yoga class one evening, I knew I had to do something! I needed to prove to myself I could stand to be less connected to the technology in my life. That’s why I decided to spend 24 hours away from my smartphone. Here’s how it went:time management email

6:35am: Wake up. Immediately grab for my phone to check my email. Try to rationalize why it would be fine to put the challenge off to another day. Realize that’s exactly why I need this in the first place. Remain resilient.

9:00am: Realize I still need to check my email today. Get out my laptop and spend 30 minutes doing that. Realize it was far more efficient to do it all at once rather than gradually over the course of the whole morning.

11:30am: Get frustrated with work. Almost crack and pick up the phone. Stay tough and keep working.

12:15pm: Feel the desire to “check-in” on Facebook and let everyone know what a lovely lunch I’m having with my husband. Realize that nobody really needs to know that, and I’d rather focus on having a great time… without my phone.

2:00pm: Want a coffee and wonder if there is a Starbucks around. Try to justify the use of the phone because technically the GPS feature wasn’t what I was trying to avoid with this challenge. Realize I don’t need to spend the money or the calories. Avoid the coffee.

4:30pm: Get a text message. Debate whether texting should be included in the ban. Call the person back instead. Personal communication for the win.

7:45pm: Need to unwind. Pull out phone to scroll through the news. Figure I’ve made it this far, so maybe I can quit a little early. Stop myself. Pick up a magazine instead. Print journalists around the world rejoice.

The point of this blog is not to say we should not utilize our amazing communication tools. I’m going to go back to using my phone: email, texting, web browsing, GPS, etc…I will not, however, forget the importance of disconnecting every once in a while. Just because we have the ability to be constantly connected to everything, doesn’t mean we should. Sorry smartphone. I’m going to pretend you’re “dumb” every now and then.

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