March 17, 2013

How To Waste Three Hours In One Easy Lesson–And Learn Something From It!

By Paul Bieber

Saturday afternoon, I’m trying to write my blog due out on Tuesday because I will be out of town starting on Monday, when I usually start my blog.  1:00 pm, open the home page for the blog entry and stare at the screen for ten minutes trying to come up with a topic.  Turn on the TV to watch the Mets spring training game, just in the background.  It becomes the foreground as I keep looking over my shoulder to see the game I said I was just going to listen to.

Keep trying to write, but decided to be hungry for lunch.  Leftover chicken, some watermelon, and a cup of tea.  Didn’t give me any ideas for this blog but it tasted good.

Back to the blog, looked through a file folder on my desk of possible blog ideas.  Couldn’t find anything that captured my attention.  The Mets are in the bottom of the ninth, and down 4-2.  Listen to the game hoping my boys will pull it out.  They don’t.  Finally turned off the TV.  Grabbed my pen and did a game of Sudoku.  Finished it in twelve minutes.  It was in the front of the book and not too hard.  Over three hours at my desk and nothing done.

Now it is Sunday and I go back to my ideas folder, and there it is:  A half-page torn out of a magazine, probably three years ago, with tips on time management.  I guess I need this myself as much as passing it along to my readers.  Here goes….

1.  Start a project, or anything, with the end in mind.  What do you need to do to reach your goal?  How much time should you allocate to this task?  How much of other people’s time will you need?  Do you have this amount of time available?  If not, you will fail in reaching your goal.  What are your stop sign points in this project?  Do you need to accomplish half of the work within an hour, or is this a long-term thing?  Are you going to follow-up with others?  When?  Whatever you do, whether a twenty minute task or a three-weeker, check to see if your time is being used well in reaching for the goal.

2.  Does this have to be done now?  Will it be better done when your mind is not going in three different directions?  Can you call someone on your hands-free phone on the way home from work, or do you have to make that call now?  Can you read correspondence later when the phone is not ringing, constantly interrupting you? 

3.  Schedule some think time for yourself.  Maybe a half-hour at work, two days a week, where you take no interruptions and just brain-storm with yourself to solve a problem, or plan a way to change something at work.  How about taking a day off once every four months and working on the task list that has been on your desk for months, getting longer.  It’s important to recharge your own batteries on a regular basis.

4.  Schedule for the unscheduled.  Yep.  You know that interruptions will occur on most days.  If you plan a task to take two hours, give yourself three, just-in-case in a new customer walks in the door.  You will actually be more efficient giving yourself more time to complete a task, because you will really complete the task, rather than having undone projects all over the place.

5.  Prioritize your tasks for today, each day.  I did this every day at work, and it does help.  Someone is sick and you need to juggle everyone’s schedule.  Weather changes a job-site schedule.  The parts you need came in two inches too short to use.  Reset your focus every morning, your day will go better.

So it is now an hour into Sunday, my blog is finished and I am ready for my trip.  Catch you next week.