With the year end upon us it is a good time to reflect what makes 2012 worth remembering. It is also the perfect moment to talk about the reasons why this year was my most productive year ever. After many years of fighting my notorious time stealers I finally managed to get rid of them. The time management experts recommend breaking the old habits with creating the new ones that serve as a replacement. This is what worked for me:
- Habit 1:
Attending tons of pointless meetings – Mentally assessing every meeting for its pointless/usefulness on the scale of 0 (unlikely pointless/very useful) to 10 (completely pointless and useless) and accepting only the meeting if either score is above 8. Alternatively, insisting to replace a pointless meeting with a conference call as it creates time to do something useful at the same time.
- Habit 2: Doing everything at the same time - Since the scientists believe that multi-taskers get easily distracted and thus accomplish less the solution is to limit the number of allowed tasks and give them all the attention. It is called the low multitasking. I can focus on one task that requires my permanent attention (say, writing a research paper) and add two-three tasks that require only sporadic attention (say, waiting on the phone for the IT help desk or attending a pointless conference call).
- Habit 3: Procrastinating instead of doing – I allow myself up to 30 min procrastination per day, which is usually more than sufficient to satisfy my inclination for the over-analysis. The price for every additional minute of procrastination is 5 push-ups (payable in advance), which proved to be sufficiently inconvenient and hence discouraging.
- Habit 4: Setting unrealistic deadlines – Airlines solve this problem by setting their EAT with a time buffer to accommodate the expected delays. Not only does it allow for occasional “over-performance” but this trick also keeps the arrival statistics looking better than they would have been. Naturally it works only for the deadlines that you set yourself. So, make sure these are the majority of your deadlines.
- Habit 5: Not saying “No” – I force myself to say “No” minimum 1 time per day. I found that never saying “Leave it with me, I’ll sort it out” is even more effective. Instead I ask “How do you propose to solve this problem?” and “What do you think?” every time someone comes looking for an answer to their problem. This is the best time saver ever!
What is your most notorious time-wasting habit? Have you tried to get rid of it? What did work?