Are You Managing Your Time? – Part 2

by: Kemp Evans

This is Part 2 in a two-part article. (View Part 1)

STEP 3: Set Smart Goals and Prioritize Time for Meaningful Work

  • Set smarter, realistic goals
  • Prioritize your goals
    • Separate the urgent from the important goals
  • Protect your goals, do not allow your time to get stolen
    • There will be situations where you will have to say “NO” at times
      • We know most people do not want to upset anyone.
      • But we all have to keep in mind; we can only handle so much.
      • If you already have a full plate, then decline that dinner invitation or helping your colleagues on a project until you have the time.
  • Give up on multitasking and context switching, eliminate the half work syndrome
    • In our age of constant distraction, it is too easy to split our attention between what we should be doing and what society bombards us with
    • Usually, we are balancing the needs of messages, emails, and to-do lists at the same time that we are trying to get something accomplished.
    • Rarely, we are fully engaged in the task at hand.
    • Here are a couple of examples.
      • You are writing a report but stop randomly to check your phone for no reason.
      • While talking on the phone, your mind wanders to your email inbox.
    • Regardless of where and how you fall into the trap of half–work, the result is always the same. You are never fully engaged with the task at hand.
    • Most people rarely commit to a task for extended periods, and it takes you twice as long to accomplish half as much.

STEP 4: Leave a Buffer-Time Between Tasks and Meetings

  • Jumping immediately from one task or meeting to the next may seem like fair use of your time, but it has the opposite effect.
  • Everybody needs time to clear our minds and recharge by walking, meditating, or just taking a short break.
  • Remember, the human brain can only focus on about 90- minutes at a time.
  • Without these breaks, it is more challenging to stay focused and motivated.
  • Scheduling buffer-times also helps prevent running late to your next meeting or completing a task.
    • Since I put buffers between tasks and activities, I can still work on it without eating into the time reserved for something else if I do not complete the job.
    • I usually find 15-minutes between tasks and meetings is an ideal amount of buffer-time.

STEP 5: The Refocus (2 minutes every hour)

  • Set your watch, phone, or computer to ring every hour
    • When it rings, take a deep breath, look at your list and ask yourself if you spent your last hour productively.
  • Then look at your calendar and deliberately recommit to how you are going to use the next hour.
  • Manage your day minute by minute, hour by hour.
    • Do not let the hours manage you

STEP 6: The Review

  • Shut off your computer and review your day.
  • What worked?
  • Where did you focus?
  • Where did you get distracted?
  • What did you learn that will help you be more productive tomorrow?
  • The power of rituals is their predictability:
    • You do the same thing in the same way over and over again
    • And so, the outcome of a ritual is predictable
    • If you choose your focus deliberately and wisely and consistently remind yourself of that focus, you will stay focused.
  • Use the Ivy Lee Method to end your day properly

This particular ritual may not help you run the Boston Marathon while pulling a car, but it will help you leave the office feeling productive and successful.

One of the worst things you can do is wake-up without a plan for the day. Instead of focusing on what you should do, your mind wanders, and you take care of the more trivial task.

That is why you should always plan to use one of these options:

The night before:

  • Before you leave work for the day, spend the last 15-minutes organizing your office and composing a list of your most essential items for tomorrow.

First thing in the morning:

  • During your morning routine, write down the 3 or 4 most urgent and important matters that need to be addressed today and work on those when you are most productive.

In closing, one thing to do regardless of whatever you do is stop trying to be perfect. When you are a perfectionist, nothing will ever be good enough. That means you will keep going back to the same task over and over again. How productive do you think your day will be as a result?

So, stop being perfect. It does not exist. Do the best you can and move on.

If you are looking to improve your fixed operations, contact me at: or (850)-450-3559.


About the Author