In Time Actions
The way that you answered the questions suggest that planning ahead and time management do not exactly stimulate you and maybe do not come all that naturally to you. You are really good at being present in the here and now and dealing with activities as they come up, which is useful in many ways and allows you to enjoy the activities that you are engaged in and you can find relaxation quickly as you engage with it, feeling comfortable staying in the present. However, being someone who focuses as you do, which is sometimes called being 'in time' means you would benefit from implementing a few slight changes, if you want to improve your time management and ability to feel a sense of achievement from getting tasks complete in a timely manner.
To improve your time management there are lots of tips you can follow, please see below the suggested actions that will improve your focus on the tasks that need your attention now and in the future.
Prioritising to set yourself free
Prioritising wisely will really help you. Being a person who prefers to live in the moment and would prefer not to have to plan ahead, you recognise that without some planning and organisation your day job and important life tasks will remain uncompleted. So the shift you need to make now to improve your time management is to think in a slightly different way.
Being able to prioritise will help you know that not all of the day has to be constructed in such a planned way and you can make sure you leave much of your time unplanned, which will allow you to feel like you can still use your natural approach to your day. You continue to be free and able to enjoy the things in the here and now as they come up, whilst making sure you are able to complete the tasks that you need to that day.
You will need to be a little strict with yourself to complete the structured tasks as and when they are planned, but once they are out of the way you can go with the flow.
It is possible to think a week ahead
It is useful to have a quick look on a Friday at what lays ahead for the following week. You could identify all the tasks that are a MUST for the coming week, so that on Monday morning you simply have to just identify the spaces in the day that you will put the structured tasks into.
Tips to help you achieve this and give you the ability to achieve completion, require some disciple, but once you get used to this, it will free up so much time for you, and possibly release the guilt and pressure from not achieving the things you need/want/have promised too. And maybe, in time, you might even start to look a few weeks ahead and maybe even a month ahead, as you will see the benefits to taking a slightly more organised approach.
Set the clock
Assign time limits. Setting structured time slots for dedicated desk time or specific task completion, will help you immensely. If you plot these time slots into your daily diary you can then easily assign the work you need to complete that you have already highlighted. Then set a timer for 60 – 90 minutes and dedicate your attention to just one task and get it finished.
Turn off everything else
Turn off all distractions when in your dedicated work time. Close down any email pop-ups, notifications and turn off the phone. Giving yourself a dedicated time limit to your ‘must do tasks’ is a way to give yourself the knowledge that you are not trapped and that you can approach the rest of your day as your natural self. You're normal ‘in time’ personality can resume and you will have achieved the must do task as well.
Group tasks together
It will help to group similar tasks together and pop them into a time slot to complete at the same time. Once your head is in that space you may as well get as many similar tasks out of the way.
Pick your best time
When you are plotting your group of tasks into your time slots you have set up in your week, think smart, when do you work best (morning, afternoon, evening)? Make sure that you give yourself the best chance to complete set tasks by plotting these in the time of day where you can work at your best.
Set a reward for completing your structured tasks. It really helps to have a little reward waiting. It might be to take a quick fresh air break, a trip to the coffee shop or a quick 15 minute meditation. Knowing you have a reward for each structured time slot you achieve, will help you stick to it and start to enjoy the new pattern.
One thing at a time
Avoid the urge to multitask. Keep focused on your planned task/group of similar tasks, this will help you to get it finished and not roll onto something else.
Please do not disturb/set boundaries
If your time management is affecting your work performance, it is sensible to explain to those around you that you are taking a new approach and request that they help you with not interrupting you whilst you are in your ‘structured work space’. Setting some boundaries around how you need to work, can be a good way to gently get colleagues to understand the need for changes, which they may also benefit from. You might want to consider popping in some earphones as an indication to ‘do not disturb’. Naturally there are times when there are genuine reasons for the need to be able to respond immediately, and this is where your new discipline needs to kick in, deal with the question, but stay on track and get back to your initial task in hand and get it finished.