Friday, July 19, 2013

Productively Waste Time

If you are like me you find that there are highs and lows in your day.  Our energy levels fluctuate or oscillate regardless of the food we eat and the amount of exercise we get.  Although eating well and exercise do allow us to stay at the highs for longer, but that is a different discussion. This is not a results of our being lazy or something wrong that needs to be fixed.  I believe that is just a natural part of the human physiology, and should not be changed but adjusted to in our actions.

Now, we cannot eliminate this behavior, but we can find ways to make it more productive. The first thing that needs to happen to make this process more effective is to know when you naturally have your highs and lows.  The best way to do this is to write down everything that you did yesterday.  This should include relaxing, working on a project, transporting the children, planing meals for the week, commuting to work, everything.  You will notice that you get alot of things done in chunks, and then you will see that little is done during other times.  These are going to be your highs and lows, and they can fluctuate, so monitoring them over a week will give you a better idea of your energy oscillation. Sometimes things happen that force you out of your typical pattern but you will revert back to it eventually.

I noticed that I have my highs later in the morning and early after noon and again in the evening.  My lows come in the early morning, and late afternoon.  This may be different for you, but whatever your high/low oscillation is make note of it.

Next you will need to categorize your tasks into the amount of brain power that is required. The easier categories are "auto-pilot" and "concentration". The auto pilot tasks will include:

  • Brushing your teeth
  • Putting on your shoes
  • Going through emails 

Anything that does not require a large amount of concentration. The the concentration task would be:

  • Logistics of a project
  • Writing a delicately worded email to an angry client
  • Creating budgets for the year
  • Analysis, focus or anything that requires deep thought 

These tasks will require a large amount of brain power. Having a system in place will make this process much easier. If you do not have a system it is discussed in the "Do you have a system?" post.

The best way I have found to distinguish these items is to ask this question. "Should I be doing this while I am having a beer".  If the answer is yes then it is likely an autopilot task, if not then probably a higher brain function task. You can also break up the brain power required into more than just two types, but I find that more than three starts to make it more complicated, especially if you are trying to categorize (concentration task) during an energy low.

Third these tasks can now be scheduled according to your energy high or low.  If a task has been categorized as a concentration task try to schedule that task during an energy high in your day. If you know you are heading into an energy low, don't schedule yourself to start planning a project.

Please post comments, and any tricks that you may use to help cope with this energy flux.

I hope this helps make you more effective and less stressed.  To your success.

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