Learning time management is easier than you may think. In grade school, we learned tactics that helped us reach simple goals. From our parents, we learned basic time management. If you feel you are running a tight shift, it simply means it is time to learn different skills to get ahead.
We have our own rhythm when we can be more productive and times when we are less productive.
Knowing your energy pattern allows you to conserve energy and avoid burnout. The pattern associated with ideal energy management is one where you are wholly engaged and using all of your resources for the greatest productivity, followed by a period of intense recovery where you recover all your energy for the next job ahead.
The first new skill? Use your personal prime time.
Successful time management starts with making the most of your time! To do so, we must distinguish between prime time and availability time.
Your prime time, which you may have discovered with the use of your activity log, is the time during which you are most energetic and efficient.
Reduce interruptions during your best working hours. You can do twice as much in one quiet hour as in two regular hours of frequent interruptions.
If you haven’t yet discovered your prime time, answer these questions: At what hours of the day do I work best? When do I achieve the greatest results?
Try to think of the time of the day when you usually accomplish more than at the other hours of your day. Then, try to discover a pattern in these highs and lows. We function on different biological clocks. Some people feel most energetic and do their best work early in the morning. Others wake up and get moving slowly, with top efficiency in the late afternoon. Still, others are night owls who perform their work most efficiently in the middle of the night.
So now that you know your prime time, how do you make the most of it? First, please plan to spend it on your creative thinking and most demanding jobs whenever possible. Doing so will enable you to excel at your most important tasks and allow you to accomplish them as quickly as possible.
If you feel you have more energy during the morning, set your essential tasks during this time and schedule the less important ones in your less productive hours. You can also set your big and complex tasks during this time to get fruitful results and do the short and straightforward tasks during your downtime.
The main element of effective energy management is always to set up routines in your daily life that promote periods associated with heavy involvement followed by recovery.
Your availability time is when you need to be available to be with others.
For example, busy executives must schedule time to meet with office personnel, managers, production workers, and others under their supervision. To make the most of your prime time, schedule your availability time around your periods of top efficiency.
Avoid the Afternoon Dip
You are probably familiar with the afternoon slump – the lazy drowsy feeling after lunchtime. Your energy levels go down. It’s hard to focus and think. Your motivation is at a complete low.
If you are feeling lifeless at midday, consider these questions:
• Did I eat any breakfast today?
• What did I have for breakfast?
• What did I have for lunch?
Your answers may give a hint about your problem. A mug of coffee while on the road for breakfast, along with a chocolate bar from the dispenser for lunch, may provide you with the caffeine and sugar you need to get started, but not the durable energy you need to keep going.
There are several preventive measures you can take.
• Get enough sleep. Make sure you’re getting to bed at a reasonable hour. A good night’s rest will put your mind at ease and let you wake up refreshed and ready to start the day. After a terrible day of stress and headaches, you can always go to bed and awaken to a bright new sunny tomorrow.
• Drink more water. Being slightly dehydrated reduces your concentration levels.
• Don’t overdo things at lunch. Have lunches that include at least three of the four food groups. And avoid overeating too. All that extra digestion your body has to do takes energy away from your brain.
To climb out of your afternoon dip, try these measures:
• Open a window. You’ll find that it’s a lot easier to stay alert when you’re cool. In addition, the fresh air will keep you relaxed.
• If you have faced the computer for a long time, stand up and divert your attention for a while to avoid destroying your precious eyesight. Also, let your body enjoy, relish, and breathe fresh air. Move around. Go for a brisk walk, or better yet, find the staircase in your office building and do five or six flights to get your blood pumping and your body warmed up. Ideally, make a walk part of your routine, either during your lunch hour or during an afternoon break.
• Get fueled. If you weren’t fortified well at breakfast and lunch, you need to take a moment and have a snack. Good options include fresh fruit, trail mix with nuts, or whole-wheat crackers with string cheese.
• Clean your desk and clear out your email inbox. Both are relatively mindless tasks that don’t require tremendous amounts of concentration or clear thinking, and both will leave you feeling more energized because you’ll have accomplished something visible and reduced clutter.
• Sit back and relax for fifteen minutes.