Time to Accomplish More
By Elena Fawkner
Time is inelastic. Despite what some of us persist
in believing, it will NOT magically expand to accommodate all we have to
do. So, in order to maximize the time we have available, we have to
spend it wisely. Here's how to do that.
Structure Your Time
The very first thing to do is understand the
structure of your time. If you think of the time you have available as
some amorphous dimension, you will fritter it away on this and that
without any real consideration of what is the best use of the time
available. How many times have you got to the end of your day and felt
like you'd accomplished nothing even though you'd been "busy"
All time is not equal. If you're a morning person,
your morning time is worth more in terms of productivity than your late
So think of time as variable in terms of potential
for accomplishment and identify your most valuable time. Do the same for
your intermediate-value time and your lower-value time.
Reserve your most valuable time for your most
intellectually demanding activities. Your intermediate value time should
be spent on important tasks that don't require quite the same level of
concentration. Finally, reserve your low-value time for activities that
don't require much in the way of concentration.
Now, obviously, if you have a full-time job away
from the home, the decision of how to spend your 9 to 5 hours will
largely be out of your hands. So, the best you can do if you're a
morning person is to try and take care of some of your intellectually
demanding activities first thing in the morning, say between 5:00 am and
7:00 am. On the other hand, if you're a night owl, working a full-time
job probably won't be much of a problem for you.
If you run your own business from home, however,
effectively structuring your time in terms of peak, intermediate and
low- concentration blocks can make a profound impact on your
productivity if you use that time intelligently.
Identify What You Have To
Now that you have some sense of how to best
structure your time, you need to turn to what, exactly, you're going to
spend that time on.
That means identifying what you have to do. And
that means identifying what you don't have to do as the flipside.
When identifying what you have to fit in to your
schedule, think about all areas of your life. Making time for yourself
is not something that you get around to only if there's time left over.
Making time for yourself is as much a priority as anything else.
A good way of identifying activities that should be
included in your schedule is to test them against the criteria of
furtherance of an objective. If the activity does nothing to further any
objective, why are you even doing it?
So start by identifying objectives for your life.
Consider categories such as health, finance, business/career, spiritual,
family, social, intellectual and so on. Establish objectives for every
area of your life that's important to you.
Everything you do should bring you closer to an
objective. If it doesn't, again, why do it?
Allocate Your Activities
Now that you know how to best structure your time
and what activities are going to lead you closer to your objectives,
it's time to allocate those activities against the time you have
available and in accordance with your various concentration levels.
Begin by estimating how much time each activity in
your day is likely to take. Be realistic about what you can really
accomplish in one day. If you overload yourself you're only going to
stress out about what you're NOT doing and that makes you less effective
in what you ARE doing. So pace yourself. Just don't WASTE time.
Assign your most intellectually demanding
activities to your peak concentration time. This may be writing a
chapter of your ebook or writing an article for the next issue of your
ezine. Assign your less concentration-intensive activities to your
intermediate concentration time. This may be redesigning a web page or
reading and responding to email, for example. Finally, assign your truly
"no concentration required" activities to your low
concentration periods. If you've allocated time to exercising, this
would be a good time to do a workout.
Group Like Tasks
Grouping like tasks will allow you to accomplish
more in the same amount of time. It is much more efficient to run three
errands while you're out and about rather than making three separate
Similarly, it's more time-efficient to run one
large load of laundry rather than two separate, smaller loads. So give
some thought to these mundane sorts of activities too. There's always a
way to shave off a bit of time by grouping similar activities and doing
them in one hit. Email's another prime example. Far more efficient to
check and respond to mail twice a day than to read and respond to each
message as and when it comes in, thereby distracting yourself from what
you were doing in the first place.
By thinking about what you have to do and
scheduling those tasks in conformity with your concentration levels as
well as grouping like activities, you will naturally make the most
effective use of the time available. Your productivity will increase
Copyright: © 2002 Elena Fawkner
Elena Fawkner is editor of A
Home-Based Business Online ... practical business ideas, opportunities
and solutions for the work-from-home entrepreneur. http://www.ahbbo.com