Today we are going to look at two simple time management strategies that can work together to help you create more time in your life the the things you want to do. The first is eliminating clutter and the second is increasing productivity through applied focus.
As basic and obvious as these two topics are, the truth is that clutter and lack of focus can be serious time thieves capable of robbing us of our most valuable and irreplaceable commodity, time. It’s happened to me and I am guessing it has also happened to you.
The burden of too much stuff
Quite often, less really is more. With regard to time management, less clutter in your life translates into more time for important things. It’s amazing how much “stuff” we can accumulate because we think it will somehow contribute to our lives. Most of the time the exact opposite is true.
Sure, we all gain some enjoyment from our material possessions, but the more things we accumulate the more burdensome they become. If we continually accumulate without a genuine need, we will eventually find ourselves living under a cloud of confusion and stress. I realize that reducing clutter and letting go of material possessions my not seem like an effective time management tactic, but these things really can weigh you down.
Easier said than done
Admittedly, staying organized is a time management skill that I have not totally mastered. It seems that every time I get things sorted out and organized, the experience is short-lived. One of the problems comes from not taking a little time every day to put things away when I’m done. This is one of those areas where a tiny time management effort can make a huge difference in how long things take to accomplish.
My desk is a classic example. I’ve been known to let it get so bad that I can’t even see the wood underneath the paper piles. Why am I telling you this? Because I understand from personal experience how clutter actually equates to the exact opposite of time management. I waste way too much time looking for things because I didn’t put them away.
Getting a grip on clutter
There’s no reason to go into great detail about this because it really comes down to common sense. So here are a few simple steps that you can take right now.
Begin immediately to clear out material possessions that you no longer need or want. If they are useful items you can give them to a friend or donate them to a local charity. This will accomplish two things: first, you’ll feel lighter and less cramped in your home or office; and you’ll also feel good about giving these items to people who can actually use them.
As far as the clutter goes, try to set aside a little time each day to tidy up. If you do this regularly it will never get out of hand and you’ll never feel overwhelmed. I know that after my wife reads this article she will be watching me to see if I put this suggestion into practice. We call that accountability, right?
Take breaks to increase focus and productivity
One of the best ways to gain more free time is to get more done in less time. We call this productivity and it truly is a vital key to time management. Distractions are like mental clutter that can derail our productivity, and there are plenty of ways to get distracted these days. Is there an effective way to eliminate this mental clutter and increase our productivity without increasing our stress levels? Absolutely!
Using applied focus sessions is a simple time management strategy I teach my coaching clients to quickly multiply their productivity. This strategy involves working for 45 minutes with total focus followed by a 15 minute focus shift. The whole process is explained in the article Using Applied Focus Sessions to Boost Productivity. There is also another version that involves 90 minutes of focused effort followed by a 30 minute focus shift. Both work extremely well.
It’s a powerful time management combo
Giving attention to these two areas of life really can give you more time for things that truly matter. So often it’s the simple, obvious adjustments that pay the biggest dividends. What if implementing these two time management strategies gave you an extra hour or two every day? What kind of effect would that have on your life?
When we stop to consider how valuable our time really is, we are motivated to make sure we are spending it wisely. Trust me, it goes by faster than you can imagine. How foolish it would be to waste something so precious. Remember, the primary reason that time management is so important is because time is life. So in essence, time management is really life management.
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Note: This is part 2 of a 2 part series on time management.
Here’s the link to part 1 in case you missed it:
How Better Time Management Improves Your Life