5 Simple Time Optimization Tips

UPSTREAMING

We know that a few of our tech heroes have a knack for minimizing morning decision making. They wear a similar outfit every day. Upstreaming is a hack to achieve the same result, for normal people. Instead of wearing the same shirt every day, just pick out your shirt the night before. Huzzah! Sleep refreshes the willpower muscle, so you can save your strength if your okay following the plan set by your tired 11pm self.
Do this: Make a mental list of every part of your morning routine. Going through the list, which tasks can be pushed upstream to the night before?
Examples: checking calendar, doing dishes, making lunch.

BATCHING

We learned about batching from Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Work Week (affiliate link)(non-affiliate link). It’s a common sense idea that is not common practice. Batching involves identifying repeating tasks and finding a way to condense multiple instances into one batch. It works because you save tons of time by not context switching. You can time box the task and optimize your process to knock out a batch. Ferriss takes batching to the extreme by optimizing to the point that he checks email only once per week, for example.
Examples: prepare 7 days worth of medication at once. Read email only twice a day. Cook 3 days worth of food at once.

Note: batching requires an above average level of discipline. You need to be capability to focus on one type of work through several, boring repetitions. You need to tune out distractions until the batch is done. No scatterbrains!


THE 5 MINUTE RULE

Procrastination gets to most of us. A lot of tasks we put off require less than 5 minutes to complete. The rule is:
If it takes less than 5 minutes, do it now.
The simple rule helps avoid putting small tasks off, and allows you to spend time focused on significant, more important work. It feels good to get stuff done. You know when you tell yourself how productive a day you’re having…
Examples: put a book back on the shelf, fold a blanket, put dishes away.

Time Boxing

The time boxing idea is simple: create a box of time dedicated to a task; that box must have a clearly defined start and finish. Use that time to focus on the task, and avoid distractions. Really, it’s a process of setting short term deadlines. These deadlines create a little push to keep you focused and efficient. The end of the time box could be measured in minutes, hours, days, or weeks, depending on the nature of the task.

The time boxing concept is also part of the Pomodoro Technique, which involves using a kitchen tomato timer for 25 minute focused periods, followed by a 5 minute break. Some variants also include a longer break after several consecutive pomodoros. The unit of one pomodoro is also used to estimate how much time is required to complete a project. This is very useful for freelancers when estimating cost for a client.

Note: time boxing goes hand in hand with batching!


Inverse Time Boxing

Where time boxing focuses on  what happens during a time box, inverse time boxing focuses on what does not happen. Also, instead of emphasizing the end of the box, inverse time boxing emphasizes the beginning of the box, the time to start the task.

Despite your own agenda, often, someone else is determined to steer you their way. Their task is always more important, and they go to great lengths to distract you. Your inbox fills up every morning with requests from these people. You can ignore them, but they only become more insistent. You want to stay focused on what you planned to get done, and context switching totally sucks. There has to be a better way!

Inverse time boxing works like this: when someone makes a request of you, and you’re in the middle of your own important stuff, tell them when you can start working on their request. This works because: a. they like getting a response, b. they may find someone else to do it, c. they may do it their self,  d. it wasn’t that important anyway, or e. it was seemingly important at that moment, but not by the time you can start.


Thanks for reading! My mission in writing these posts is always to help uplift at least one person. If only one person is uplifted, the world is a slightly better place. Your comments and feedback make writing extremely rewarding; I truly appreciate receiving them. Stay legendary!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s