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Thom
Bennett

Website & graphic design

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Time Management and Healthy Sleeping Habits

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

The whole concept of time-saving has backfired.

People are as busy, if not busier, in 2011 than they have ever been.

Work moves at the speed of communications. Waiting for news, orders and next steps has always been a part of the strategic navigation of a company. In days gone by, it could take months to hear back from ships in faraway ports, or from prospectors across the country. Now, communications travel at the speed of light.

As early as twenty years ago, people had no time to plan. Time pressure came from the light of the day, between sunrise and sunset, and the gradual shift of the seasons.

Now we have instantaneous messaging from around the world, and our response times are expected to be just as immediate. Orders, given from the top, demand on-the-spot mobilization. Issues from the end-user are expected to be resolved instantaneously. Nature takes a secondary role as an international workforce toils through moonlight in air-conditioned offices to meet the endless stream of urgent needs.

Caught in the middle is every worker in the world, bouncing between unrealistic expectations of consumer and superior. Even the President of the United States is glued to his Blackberry—meeting the endless demands and queries of his country. Companies with their thumb off the pulse of their social media campaigns, for even a minute, can face devastating consequences.

Laptops, smartphones, and WiFi have had the opposite effect of what they were intended. These conveniences were designed to open up our time. Instead they have only entrapped their users in a world of increased demand and greater competition.

With time management being more crucial than ever before. Here are a few time-saving tips that require only the most minimal of technology—a pen and paper (although a plume and papyrus will work just as well).

1. MAKE A LIST OF YOUR PROBLEMS.

Write down everything that’s bugging you. And all those things you need to do. Let it all out. It can be as complicated as a project that is keeping you up at night, or as small as a hangnail on the tip of your finger. Don’t discriminate or censor yourself. Just write. Simply putting all of your problems on paper is cathartic, and you’ll feel better. Even the order of the list will surprise you. This order is important. It is always to be treated as greatest priority to least. Don’t stop writing until you’ve hit 20.

2. THEN WRITE SOLUTIONS.

There is a solution to every problem. Sometimes it is as simple as picking up a pair of nail scissors. Sometimes it involves putting in place a series of steps that will solve a greater goal, in a precise, systematic manner. Write these solutions down. If you have a big problem that just doesn’t have a one-part answer, move on to Step 3.

3. BREAK BIGGER PROBLEMS INTO SMALLER PARTS.

If you have a report that is looming over your head, think about all the steps that are actually involved. It’s never just a report. You might need to do some research. Exactly what kind of research? Write it down. You might need to make a phone call to another person in the team. Write it down. Make a note of the questions you will need to ask them. You will need the time to write it without interruption. Look at your calendar and find that time. Move on to the next problem.

4. WRITE ACTION WORDS NEXT TO EACH OF THESE SMALL PROBLEMS.

Don’t write: research report. Write: Sit down, open laptop, go to Google, search Google News for topics X, Y, Z. Be very specific. Write down not just a general sense of what you need to do—write down exactly what has to happen. Use a lot of verbs. By writing action steps, it breaks down the actions into bite-sized, manageable parts. You will be amazed at how much this helps. It is much easier to go for a run if you don’t think about going for a run. Just put on your shoes. Then, once you are wearing the shoes, the run doesn’t seem so arduous.

5. MAKE A LIST OF 20.

When you have organized these actions into a list of 20 things that you need to do, then you can start managing time. Each of these actions should take you one or two hours to do. If you have more, you can consolidate some terms into one – ie, buy stamps, and pick up dry cleaning.

6. MAKE A GRID.

Take a piece of paper and write down the days of the week, evenly spaced, from top to bottom. You can write down your list of 20 on the back, and put your grid on the front. Take each day and make 4 boxes underneath. Two columns of two equal boxes. These are each two hours. Take each of your 20 items and plot them into your grid.

7. INTANGIBLES.

An inflexible schedule can drive you crazy if something comes up. And things always come up. Make room in your schedule for intangibles. This is done best by actually including blanks in your list of 20. Or, double up your time blocks for bigger tasks. This extra time will give you a buffer for sudden eventualities. Also, if you front-end load your Tuesdays and Wednesday and keep your Thursdays and Friday a little bit open, you can shift some blocks to the end of the week if things come up. Also, leaving most of Monday free is a good way to plan for the unexpected.

8. DAYS TO DECADES.

Now that you have your tidy grid of your things to do that week, you will need to make a daily, monthly, yearly and decade list too. Write Monday at the top of a blank piece of paper and write down the four things you had in your block. Write your actions next to them. You will make one of these, every day, for the rest of your life (except holidays). As you go through your day, cross the four items off your list.

9. TIME AND MONEY FOR FUTURE PLANS.

High-speed Internet does not save you time. It makes your plate more full than it has ever been. If you are expected to do more, you need to be better organized. It is one thing to plan out your days and years, but a whole other to have the energy. The best way to ensure that you do is to sleep.

10. SLEEP.

Get eight hours of sleep a night. Hours spent looking at the ceiling is time poorly planned. You will need your rest to make it through your list. So get the best mattress money can buy. It is where you will be spending a third of your carefully planned days. Talk to your local mattress professionals about a bed that will give you the support and comfort that suits your personal preference level.

By following these 10 simple steps you can take control of your time once again. It’s not your phone that will make your life easier, it’s your ability to stay organized.

Top image (CC) by JanetR3 via Flickr

This is a cross-post from Ezine Articles.

Susan Kent is the owner of Mattress Choice. For more information about bettering time management through healthy sleeping habits, visit her website at http://www.mattresschoice.com.

View more at:
http://www.designtaxi.com/article/101741/Time-Management-and-Healthy-Sleeping-Habits/

The whole concept of time-saving has backfired.

People are as busy, if not busier, in 2011 than they have ever been.

Work moves at the speed of communications. Waiting for news, orders and next steps has always been a part of the strategic navigation…