Are you under constant pressure, juggling one urgent task after another?
Do you ever feel like a 24-hour e-mail- processing machine with no time out?
Do you spend more time on social media rather than social interaction?
If any of your answers are yes, you are part of the millions who are ruled by the 21st-century mantra of “LAH” (“let’s all hurry”).
All the new gadgets and technological advancements — such as faster computers, more bandwidth, cheaper connections — have a downside: information overload. You may feel you are drowning in never-ending projects with no chance for a breather.
Less is more
What would happen if you decided to implement the revolutionary approach of “less is more”?
Leo Babauta, author of The Power Of Less and the popular blog Zen Habits is a fervent advocate of simplicity. He says simplicity comprises two principles:
Learn to set limitations in order to choose the essential. Set limitations in everything you do.
By choosing the essential, you create a great impact with minimal resources. You maximise your time and energy.
He uses the analogy of haiku — the popular form of Japanese poetry that uses just 17 syllables written in three lines (five syllables, then seven, then five).
The haiku poet has two choices — one is to whip out 17 syllables in a short time.
The other is to carefully choose only the essential words and images needed to convey the idea.
The second creates some of the most powerful poetry in this limited form.
The big questions are: Does what you do take you forward in your life according to your goals, values and aspirations?
Do you choose the essential and create results and meaning relevant to you?
Eight practical tools
Here are some time management tools that can help you get even better results through selection and focus:
Adopt a positive mindset
What you believe and say to yourself is crucial in the results that you get. If you say nurturing statements such as “I am efficient” or “I focus on one task and perform it well”, then you programme your mind to deliver precisely these results.
Set powerful goals
Goals are dreams with legs. Remember to set Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely (SMART) goals.
Most importantly, these goals have to be about you (not others) or accepted by you (if given from management).
Prioritise using the 80-20 rule
The Pareto Principle suggests that 80 per cent of the results come from 20 per cent of the time and effort. Choose your 20 per cent wisely and focus on them.
Set time limits for your tasks
Parkinson’s Law stipulates that we will take as much time for any given task as we allocate for it. Decide a reasonable time frame and stick to it.
Write down three important tasks a day
Research states that we can only accomplish a maximum of three big projects in any given day. Note them down.
Focus on one thing at a time. It is proven that the human brain cannot multi-task.
When we switch between tasks, it takes 15 minutes to resume concentration after we have dealt with the interruptions.
Learn to say “no”
Handle interferences like mail, calls and meetings only at certain times of the day. Mention this in your auto-reply or voice mail message.
Maintain your energy and a clear mind
If you feel panic and paralysis, get up and stretch. Go for a short walk, take a mental holiday (think of your last vacation).
Take three to five deep breaths and bring yourself to the present moment.
Then start with the most important task and focus fully on it. Ignore the rest.
Being a “time star” can be good fun. All it takes is a positive mindset, skilful prioritisation and a relaxed mind to take the “LAH” out of your work and life.
Martin Luther King Jr said: “You don’t need to see the whole staircase, just take the first step”.