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5 Time Management Tips MADE EASY (Just in Case You Forgot)

24 February 2011 No Comment

African american male with watch smiling

Time-management is seriously important. With the skill-set (and mind-set) to be more productive with you’re time and energy, you’ll:

>> put yourself in a favorable financial and career position by developing your talents, knowledge and skills,

>> develop the relationships and contacts you need achieve your personal goals

>> become somebody of more impact and influence in the world and community around you, because

Malcolm X quotes“In all our deeds, the proper value and respect for time determines success or failure…” ~ Malcolm X (emphasis mine)

Now, WITHOUT the skills to manage your time and energy well, you’ll:

>> lose status and respect from the people that are important to you,

>> NEVER accomplish the important goals in life that you set out to accomplish, and

>> sabotage your future financial security and wellbeing

But the thing is, as vital as these skills are, THEY’RE EASY TO FORGET, because, if you’re like me, ALMOST NOBODY AROUND YOU EXHIBITS THEM…

To the contrary though, almost everyone I know completely wastes every free moment they have (and complains about the situation they’re in). It turns me off…

I’m not saying this to knock anybody, cause we’re all in this together, but I just want to make the point clear: if you don’t constantly nourish you’re mind with this stuff, you’ll gradually slip back into the unhealthy and destructive habits of the people around you.

The consequences and responsibilities we’re all dealing with now are the result of CHOICES we made in the past. So ultimately, time-management is a preventive measure against the forfeiting of your future that almost nobody takes seriously.

If you pay insurance for your health or for any of the important items that you own, you might as well pay insurance mentally for the life you’re creating everyday when you get out the bed.

So let’s get started…

1 | “Time-Management” is Played Out…

African american with cool watchTime management is played out, and what I mean by that is that traditional “time management” comes out of a world that no longer exists…

The term dates way back to the industrial revolution: the first time in which “output” for the average person exceeded the boundaries of nature…whereas work used to be determined by seasons and sunlight hours, holidays by inclement weather and time itself by looking at the Sun and Moon, this was the first time where people were using clocks, working in factories and leaving their rural hometowns for major cities.

Now most of the time-management literature and ideas come later of course, but they still developed during a time when there was NO internet, NO cell phones or any of the other technological advances that determine how we work and interact now.

So a more effective approach would be what I call “present-day productivity”: the techniques, habits, mindset shifts and tools for personal effectiveness (leveraging your time, information, communication, emotional wellbeing and action-orientation in the digital age).

Present-Day Productivity is like finding bugs and glitches in a computer program that you need to avoid, and then using cheat codes in a video game that you need to create (where the computer program is the society and the video game is your own human nature).

Game genie french version

When you really get proficient at this, it’s almost like you’re whole life becomes a Game-Genie or something.

ACTION STEP: Eliminate the word “time-management” from your vocabulary completely. Instead, use terms like “personal effectiveness” “efficiency” and “productivity.”

Stop trying to manage “time” and focus more on managing YOURSELF: see the traditional to-do list managers, calendar systems and planners as a small part of your overall game…as a small part of the routines, systems and environments you consciously set up to support you getting the most out of yourself.

2 | You Achieve More By Taking Regular Breaks…

…then by ever working obsessively, so stop trying to run marathons with your workload.

Everything in nature operates by cycles, including your mental and physical energy. Just like you need to rest at night to sleep, you also need to break intermittently during the day to stay focused.

The sleep cycle is governed by something called the circadian rhythm, but the day-energy cycle is governed by something called the UL-tradian rhythm.. you should look into it if you’re really interested, but basically, you want to take a break and completely detach from what you’re doing every 90 to 120 minutes.

ultradian rhythm diagram explained

There was a more specific version of this I used last year where I’d work for 50 minutes, break for 10, work for 50 minutes, break for 10 and then completely detach for 30, but I find the every 90 or 2-hour version is simpler and easier to follow.

Tony Schwartz talks about this in his book The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal, where he says, “full engagement is best achieved by taking up the mentality of a sprinter, not a marathon runner,” so check that book out for more if you’re interested too.

ACTION STEP: Take frequent breaks. Stop trying to field-slave your mind incessantly and realize that when you lose the ability to concentrate, that’s your body giving you feedback as to it’s natural needs.

Stop staying in “work mode” just to finish one more paragraph or one more client or one more chapter. If you do, you’ll pay for it with a lack of focus, poor memory, decreased creativity and bad sleep at night (let alone all the mistakes you’ll make). Listen to your body, take breaks and treat it right EVERY NINETY MINUTES.

3 | When You Need to Get Focused, Block Out Distraction

Just in case you forgot, listen to this:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

and watch this (it’s me):

Get the Flash Player to see this content.

ACTION STEP: Enjoy the two clips above IN FULL and follow what they say. I’m serious…don’t move on until you check them out.

4 | Learn Quickly By Paying Close Attention

…and asking terrific questions.

African american couple using laptopI blogged about communication skills last Friday, but I didn’t talk about it within the context of productivity per se. Put simply: when you listen, you learn, and when you learn, you’re FAR more productive, so do your best to always be in a state of apprenticeship…not just towards smart or effective people, but towards life itself as well.

At my last apartment, I learned how to fix shower heads and sinks (from my room mate), at my last job, I learned how electricity works and (neither of which were job-related), and in one of my old relationships I learned how to cook and clean (thank God), ALL FOR FREE.

That’s because whenever I see somebody doing something I don’t know how to do, I ask them “How do you do that?” Whenever I see someone communicating in a way that I don’t understand (or agree with), I ask them “Why do you think that?”

Knowledge, techniques and life lessons are all around you if you simply look for them, all of which can make you more productive in life. You can learn a lot from people’s mistakes, but don’t forget you can learn a lot from strengths too.

ACTION STEP: In your conversations, stop making points and start gaining them instead. Be eager to understand the other person first and see if you can gain a new worldview.

>> When you’re getting instructions, listen carefully.

>> If you’ve got a new job, take initiative to learn things you don’t need to know (your boss will remember that when it’s time to downsize).

>> Whenever you see someone fixing a car, doing photography on the street or whatever, ASK QUESTIONS. It’s amazing how much you can learn for free just by being interested.

>> If you have an opportunity for an unofficial apprenticeship with an older person you respect, JUMP ON IT. This is the big one..

5 | Align Your Work w/ Who You Are

African american woman thinkingThe main thing that gets me out of bed in the morning is knowing that I have the chance to share empowering knowledge with somebody before I get back in it at night. (I woke up 6:15 a.m. to get the ideas down for this post today.)

Similarly, what gives you that ambition and that unstoppable forces is a sense of purpose: a sense of meaning beyond your own personal benefit.

Knowledge and intelligence saved my life, so everything I want to “be productive” about is oriented towards helping someone else experience that same transition (particularly young African-Americans in today’s society).

ACTION STEP: Think about what’s important to you and start gearing your goals around THAT, not what you think should be important or ideal.

Take a second to think about things in the world that get you upset and reverse them: If war gets you upset, create goals around developing peace. If ignorance gets you upset, then create goals around cultivating intelligence, and if bad fashion gets you upset, then create goals around having style.

Just tailor your goals towards self-defined values, and focus on the meaning they have (don’t be afraid to feel something). Don’t worry about getting it just right either, because as long as your conscious of this dynamic, you’re well on your way.

Leave a comment below letting me know what you think about this post. Tell me your favorite points, how you’re going to use the techniques or ask any question you have on your mind.


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