I keep my time management simple.
To be most effective, we can only work/FOCUS on ONE thing at a time, and must be action takers – doers.
- Identify most important singular thing to work on now.
- Focus – stop task switching, eliminate distractions, silence phone etc. Declutter desk.
- Identify how much time is left before one has to stop for major break – for lunch, to do other non avoidable tasks etc.
- Set a timer – if at 08:30 I’m ready to deeply focus, I set my iPhone timer (nice and simple!) as a countdown to 12:30 which is when I have lunch. So that’s 4 hours. Makes me conscious of how long I have too. Timer is visible on a stand (Rain Design) – iPhone plugged in).
- Breaks ‘take care of themselves’ in the sense that I go to toilet, snack/have tea as needed at desk – working until I NEED to briefly stop. This is important – I tried Pomodoro etc but found it was not only distracting, it also broke my focus and FLOW, and did not feel natural because it forces breaks when not required. I use a stand up desk too to help my body – up/down etc. I don’t pause the timer for breaks.
- I find having the countdown timer also enables me to conceptualise how long I’ve got left before a major – work disrupting – break. This inspires me to maximise my focus, productivity (without rushing) and track progress; all working together to help propel/motivate me psychologically forward.
- Having a big chunk of time on the timer helps create a relaxed sense of comfort that yes, I have time to get this done. I am thus better able to focus on producing quality work.
- The timer effect, including being able to see it, also creates senses of urgency, ‘competing’ with myself (not rushing) and the value of time.
- Conceptualising and planning my day around time blocks helps me get a big picture view of where my time is going, and how long important projects will take. It makes them more measurable too. Examples: It took me 3 hours to complete that module so the whole CPD course is likely to take….and; with 4 hours in the morning and say 2 in the afternoon – I get a chance to review what is important and where I might realistically increase project work hours etc.
(When working with clients I use a different system.)