When most people hear the words “time management,” they don’t immediately think of fun. They think about having to do work, the hours they’ll lose doing the un-fun thing, and what they’d rather be doing (like SAP training).
The thing about this is that it’s possible to unravel and see it in a completely different way. At Michael Management, we know this because we tested it, and it works. In fact, we’re working hard on making SAP training fun!
Time management is defined as “the process of planning and exercising conscious control of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency, and productivity,” according to Wikipedia.
Ah, the ever-elusive topic of productivity. What are its secrets? Sometimes it seems like nobody knows. Well, we happen to have listed them below.
The first secret of time management is that working harder doesn’t, well, work. In fact, that “strategy” just leads to burnout. And nobody wants that.
To be successful, you’ll need to learn not to manage yourself and your personal energy, not your time. There are different types of energy, which include physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual energy. This isn’t rocket science.
For example, you only slept two hours and then brought yourself to work (or SAP skills training), you will probably be less productive than if you hadn’t done that, even if you somehow manage to “plan out your time” well.
The Ultradian Rhythm is a recurrent period or cycle repeated throughout a 24-hour day. This means that you have natural, predictable cycles, which means that taking breaks rejuvenates your energy. When we work for more than 90 minutes at a time on say, SAP learning, this energy starts to break down.
The solution? Schedule your tasks around your energy levels instead of your time.
Want to know if you’re up to doing a task? Check your energy level, not the time or your to-do list. Map out the times your energy levels are high or low or simply unavailable.
Your most important task should ideally be done first thing in the morning, when you have the most energy (you’ve recharged and haven’t used any of your new energy yet). The menial tasks that require low levels of creativity can be done later in the day (answering e-mails, anyone?).
To mediate this, kick it to the curb entirely and watch your anxiety drop before your very eyes. Gone is the pressure to perform a certain number of hours per day (just do what works) and with it the guilt over having free time.
The real kicker? The time management method never would’ve worked anyway, no matter how many things you crossed off, because there would always be more things to add. This is a losing battle.
Not only is it a losing proposition, you’re also now procrastinating because you are human and that’s how humans work.
You scheduled too many things and now you’re going in circles. Sound familiar, anyone? Doesn’t it feel better to know that this is just the human condition?
You’re a human. It’s time that you lived like one! Which brings us to our next point…
As humans, we really like to compartmentalize things. We carefully place different parts of us in boxes, then stand around wondering which box is actually us.
The truth is they are all us and realizing this can help you be a more grounded and productive individual.
“For the most part, the strict boundaries that used to exist between our work and personal lives have blurred. But it needs to go further than that. If we spend more time working than doing anything else, then work really is life and life is work,” according to different Inc.com article.
“This isn't just some job you are working, this is your life that you're building. You don't have time to be around people who bring you down or to work for a company you don't love because doing so means you are wasting precious time to build the life you want,” the article continues.
This echoes a recent trend among young people who are “settling” for less money in exchange of greater flexibility, and vitality. It isn’t that millennials want to work less. Actually, they’re the generation most inclined to remain 'on' during off hours.
“For Millennials, the never-offline and always-available workplace is all they know. To them, turning off work at 5:00 p.m. is an antiquated practice. Due to their always-on approach to life, Millennials see no problem with blending work and life. Checking e-mail before they get out of bed in the morning, then shopping online while at work, exchanging texts with their managers after 8:00 p.m., and then catching up on e-mail on Sunday afternoon is native to them,” according to another article by Inc.com.
“In today's employee market, creating work-life balance for Millennials is a compelling competitive advantage.”
Attention is fleeting. The reason? Previous, unrelated tasks leave a kind of “residue” which makes it difficult to focus on the present task.
The antidote for this, mindfulness, is defined as the practice of being aware of one’s thoughts and feelings, moment-to-moment, without getting caught up in them. Born of ancient Eastern religions (and philosophies) like Buddhism and regularly incorporated in mainstream therapy in the United States, mindfulness is a type of restorative meditation.
This means that attention has value (think of it as a price tag). One of the ways to add back value is to reduce the noise. Think of it as recharging your batteries, no matter what state your attention capacity is in.
Now that you know that attention is the most expensive currency when it comes to productivity, it will make sense that rule number one is to stop looking at your device (so much). If you’re on your laptop (the second biggest culprit), keep one window open.
Make sure you keep out interruptions during your work time, find a quiet space, turn off your alerts and social media apps, and get into your mindfulness zone.
On a related note, check out this recent Michael Management blog post about how technology is affecting the learning industry.