The way we live and carry on our daily activities is characterized by speed and concourse. We have to deal with an overwhelming amount of tasks and activities. Moreover, we are assaulted by an excess of information: email messages, news on different channels (printed newspapers, online media, radio or TV), phone calls, Skype messages or on other instant-messaging solutions, Facebook, Linkedin, received documents, colleagues and collaborators, clients, different types of reunions. What should our attitude and reaction be to this situation?
Here are three things that I suggest:
Analyzing the manner in which you spend your time.
Learning and applying some modern tools of time management.
What should the expected result be? That's easy - the improvement of time usage efficiency through:
the simplification of personal life
the increase of professional efficiency
The idea of simplicity on both personal and professional level is approached in the American philosophy (Leo Babauta, The Power of Less), as well as in the European one and is based on identifying the essential and on the idea of eliminating or smartly managing the rest.
The starting point is similar for most of us. We have a busy work schedule, we lack time for friends or hobbies, we are overweight, we begin having health problems, we lack energy and tonus. We often confront ourselves with an unhealthy, chaotic alimentation. We do not manage to do sports or work out enough. We sometimes have to deal with a high degree of stress, we have to carry out many tasks and solve work related problems. Or, even worse, we resort to excessive smoking, debts and loans. Does it sound familiar?
Taking into consideration the above mentioned things, I think we should take some actions. Let's not leave things to chance. Let's take over our own lives. Let's gain control over time!
A simple pattern, easy to understand and put into practice, involves several steps:
a) Simplification and reduction to the essential,
b) Planning and establishing in written a few clear goals,
The goals can be diverse, both from the professional and personal life. You can find a list of possible goals below, of which I recommend you to choose only three for the beginning.
Do sport regularly
Become more efficient and productive in school or at work
Run, for example take part in at least one annual cross race or marathon
Increase my income by a certain percentage or amount
Wake up early every morning, for instance at 6:00 a.m.
Swim (daily, weekly or take part in different contests)
Read (one book a week/ month)
Write a blog
Pay all my debts
Save money (a certain percentage of the income or a certain amount, on monthly basis)
Simplify my life
Free my house and/or office from useless things
Lose 10 kilos in 6 of 12 months
Write a book
Have more free time
Make time for a specific hobby
Visit three new places every year
What does it actually mean to limit yourself to the essential?
Let's become more efficient and productive, by simplifying our lives. How can we do this? Here are some recommendations:
1 . Set limits to what you are doing.
2 . Identify the essential, give up on what is not important.
3 . Simplify.
4 . Focus on what you are doing at a certain moment or in a given period.
5 . Create healthy habits.
6 . Start with small steps.
Let's explain part of these ideas mentioned above, in order to make them easier to understand and apply.
What kind of limits can we impose? What are they referring to?
To the number of sent and received emails, to the number of managed projects, to the amount of processed information, to the volume of objects or documents we have to deal with, to the current responsibilities and tasks.
For instance, let me challenge you to an exercise of imagination: version A - going shopping without a limit (you buy anything, undiscerningly, without being necessary) vs. version B - shopping within a budget of 200 RON, based on a written list, situation where I choose only what is necessary or important, with no useless things. This is what our life looks like: we live without any limits!
The consequences of a chaotic lifestyle, having no limits imposed, are the following: stress, lack of energy, decrease of efficiency, states of fatigue and running out of time for the truly important tasks.
The simplification method: an example. When referring to the manner in which we are currently managing our emails, we should begin by evaluating the actual situation. Probably, at the moment we are checking emails very often, like 15 -20 times a day. How can you simplify?
Analyze the frequency/ number/ type/ actual amount. Establish a lower, useful, realistic limit.
Test the established limit for a day per week. Analyze the result.
If you are not satisfied with it, adjust the limit. Test it for a week.
Continue until you find the optimal value. Develop a habit, a custom.
Idea: just like when sculpting a statue, we begin with a block of stone from which we eliminate what is not necessary, until only the figure of the statue remains.
As a method, we have to answer a few questions:
What are my values?
What are my goals?
What do I enjoy?
What is important to me?
What action has the greatest impact?
Simplify - eliminate what is not essential by evaluating the current situation, eliminate the unimportant tasks, delegate others, postpone, turn down other people's requests when it is necessary.
Concentrating on a small number of things. As a suggestion: we should choose the "single goal" on which to focus. Different forms of focusing may include:
focusing on a goal,
focusing on what is going on now/ at the present,
focusing on what you have to do on that moment,
focusing on positive aspects,
Forming new habits is a method that helps us acquire long term habits. How can we do this? Here are some steps to be followed:
Choose only one habit. One at a time.
Make a plan: what do I do every day, what time. It is important to place it within some routine (for instance: after brushing my teeth, I go running for 20 minutes). The recommended duration for implementing this plan is 30 days.
Give your intended goal to the public: colleagues, family, friends or on Facebook.
Measure and register the results, announce your progress daily or periodically.
Even if it seems easy, there are a few rules to be observed:
Choose only one habit at a time.
The habit has to be realistic and easy to carry out.
It has to be measurable.
Begin by small steps, having a simple goal, something easy or by dividing an ambitious goal into smaller sub-goals that can be pursued step by step. This strategy of beginning by small steps is useful for:
keeping the energy and enthusiasm;
it's easier to manage;
it ensures success on every step;
progressive change has a longer lasting effect.
In conclusion, our time is much too important and valuable for us to waste it. Take over, simplify your life and form healthy habits.
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