This is the second of two articles in the series Do You Need More Time? Today I am going to look at two simple time management strategies that can work together to help you create more time. 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. In this case, less clutter in our lives 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.
It is true that we can gain some enjoyment from our material possessions, but the more we accumulate the more likely it is to become a burden. If we constantly accumulate without a genuine need, we can 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 skill that I have not 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.
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 can eat into your time. 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; 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 post 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 creating more time. 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 us more time. 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.
How good are you at keeping clutter under control?
Do you have any personal productivity tips to share with us?
The lines are open!
Here’s the link to part 1 in case you missed it:
Do You Need More Time? Part 1