The best work is often done with a rested mind. A tired person tends to rush, make mistakes, and have less concern for the quality of the outcome. This isn’t because they have no regard for work quality, but because they want things done quickly and they are not using time management.
As a frequent “running-on-fumes” go-getter, I believe I’m qualified to also talk about how incredible it is when I perform the same work when relaxed. This might seem obvious, but we rarely practice this idea which is also a contributor to why we are considered to be one of the most stressed out generations in history.
Relaxation is ultimately achieved by time management. This is because there is always plenty for us to do, and not enough time to do it all in one day. So, we try to fit as much as we can in one day, and that is the problem.
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Giving Work a Rest: Time Management
Anytime that I’m working on a large project, I try to break it up over a time interval to lessen the job size. The idea is that once I complete one of these intervals, I will stop and rest. This is where I have a problem. Generally, I will continue working until I run out of time during the day.
Do I get ahead on the project? Yes, but it comes at a massive cost. Often, after doing one of these marathons, I head to sleep just to wake up early the next day and start it all over. The lack of sleep and added work load (self-imposed) compounds the drain that I begin to experience.
This is one of many things that I’m trying to make improvements on. In the next section, I’ll talk about some steps I’m taking to better my time management, and prevent over-exerting myself.
Tools for Time Management
Lists! I love lists, and they are probably one of the best tools in my satchel. Written on paper, written in Notepad, or managed within my email software (I use Mozilla Thunderbird), lists are my favorite time management tool. Lists force us to:
- Plan out your goals.
- Prioritize them.
- Keep track of progress.
- and, have a visual on what is ahead.
Without lists, I work hard, but I can also easily meander. For instance, I’m writing this post as the result of a checklist and I prioritized it at the very top. It is allowing me to keep laser targeted focus on my goals at hand.
Checklists are great, but they can become relatively meaningless without time constraints. Did you know that the US is supposed to use the metric system? We never put a deadline on when it was required, so we considered it voluntary and it has remained that way for many decades. Don’t let this happen! Set time constraints, and try to be aggressive.
There is a system called the Pomodoro Technique that makes use of 25 minute intervals followed by 5 minutes of rest. When 25 minutes is up, stop the task at hand and continue once the break is over.
This is the most important tool in anyone’s bag, and without it none of this will work. Use willpower to force time management changes. Set guidelines, time frames, lists and stick to them. Once all goals are achieved, be finished for the day. It is very hard for me to stop when I still see sunlight, but not doing so will lead to exhaustion, stress, and an ultimate failure of my time management goals.
Enjoy Your Time Management Success
It will take some time to settle into the new routine, and relapse to your old ways is possible, but stick to the plan. Less time will be spent on fixing mistakes, and reviewing work.
Be happy with the progress you have achieved with your time management, feel accomplished, and get some rest. When you wake up feeling refreshed, and ready to tackle anything that comes your way, you’ll be glad you did.
Do or did you have problems with working too hard? What techniques helped to control your time management? Do you find the quality of work is better when done with a rested mind?