Ever wonder where the day goes? Why are some days so efficient, and others slip by with nothing to show for them? Time management is an ongoing battle, especially with touring and travel – but there are some very concrete ways of dealing with this problem. Let’s dive into the key factors that decide how effective your day will be:
The main culprit is time fracturing. Your day is split apart into a series of events that divide your time, attention, and energy. It’s like buying something with cash and ending up with loose change that’s discarded or forgotten in your bag. The loose change are the smaller units of time that get wasted waiting for flights, drivers, dinner, or meetings. Time is also lost when you are interrupted with a text or phone call, and your attention takes time to recover and focus.
These seemingly innocent little chunks of time – 15 minutes here, 30 minutes there – add up in a big way. It’s not enough time to really engage in a large task, and we usually fill those gaps with our phones and social media. We crave that mindless stimulation, but it quietly undermines our entire day. We feel busy, but haven’t really accomplished anything. So how do we fix this, especially with such small chunks of time?
The answer is time chunking. Make a list of things you can do with small chunks of time (micro-chunking – 15-30min). You can focus on macro-chunking (1 hr+) and larger tasks later. I keep this handy in Evernote (mark it as a favorite) to remind myself of things I can do while waiting for flights. Generally I’ll aim for left-brain activities because they don’t need the same continuous flow required for creative tasks. The key is to keep this list handy and build a habit around it. I save the creative tasks for when I can dedicate at least 1 or 2 hours minimum and turn off my phone.
Here’s my actual list:
– Create batched tasks to combine multiple actions to save time
Optimizing small tasks isn’t enough – you need to make sure you’re focused on knocking down one key task at a time, and not switching between various things. I use index cards to make a shortlist of the most important tasks of the day. Sometimes I’ll start with a brain dump on a larger sheet of paper to unload everything, and then consolidate the day’s key tasks on to the index card. It forces you to simplify the scope of your day.
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