Managing Your Time By Vivek Iyyani

In the previous article, I talked about the importance of saying no so that you can remain effective throughout the day. Saying no to tasks that are unimportant is a vital way to stay productive.

Now that you have the skills to minimise external distractions, I want to share more about how you can maximise your productivity by understanding how to manage your schedule based on the important activities you have set for yourself.

Most of the work we do can be categorised into Creative Work versus Mechanical Work.

Creative work requires a block of time such as 3 hours or more to complete. It really needs some solid brain power. You need to get into a resourceful state of ‘Flow’ to be able to access the inner recesses of your mind. Your creativity stems from within. The process of being creative is highly dependent on the amount of time you can concentrate on the work without any distraction.

Mechanical work, on the other hand, is very basic. You’ve done this over and over again and it doesn’t require much brain power. You can be mentally exhausted and still be able to do these type of activities. For example, tidying up your desk, setting up the training room before a seminar or submitting a report that has already been completed via email.

The underlying problem is that you do not realise how dependent our creativity is in that state of flow. It is like meditation. You require some time and effort to let the mud settle in the water before you can enjoy the benefits of being meditative.

If you throw stones into the water while trying to meditate at the same time, you are introducing more disturbances and breaking the flow. In other words, you cannot access the creativity within because you do not have the undisturbed time alone.

So how can this help you become more productive?

This is where it is important for you to realise the importance of scheduling. The Maker’s schedule requires you to invest at least half a day undisturbed to get the work done effectively. If there is a meeting in between that breaks your flow, you find that you cannot complete the creative work you set out to do.

So how do you schedule your time to manage the urgent tasks?
Very simple. On those days that you have urgent tasks to handle, do not set out to complete creative tasks. All the disturbances will only hamper your ability to get creative. Plan your work in such a way that whenever you need to do creative work, you have created an environment where you will not be disturbed by anyone. This will ensure you are able to manage your mechanical work together with your creative work.

For example, you could set your Mondays to be an admin day where you settle all the urgent matters that require short amounts of time. Meetings, reports or presentations can be scheduled for these days. On these days, you organise short blocks of time for all the meetings. Clear off all the impending work. You can also use this day to organise all your appointments in the evenings after the most important work is completed in the morning.
On other days, where you need to think hard, brainstorm or conceptualise, block out minimum 3 hours to half a day for such tasks. Such conducive environments will help you to get into the state of mind that authors, designers and artists delve in to bring out their creative work.

Wrapping it together
Now that you know the different amounts of time and energy the work you do requires, you need to sit down and categorise such tasks into creative or mechanical. If your work requires you to have lots of meetings or appointments, then it may be better for you to organise your creative work at times where you won’t be disturbed. These could be early in the mornings or late into the night when the rest of the world is sleeping. Personally, I find myself able to churn out more creative work when there isn’t much human activity around me. I like the peace and quiet and it allows my mind to explore.

Having the acute self-awareness of such tasks will allow you to plan your work well.

I don’t believe that everyone is more productive at a specific time of the day. I believe that it is the surrounding around you that gets you into the state of mind that makes you productive. If you are able to duplicate the same surroundings around you in the daytime, then you will be able to duplicate your productive work on a consistent basis.

This is why companies like Google have an ‘open concept’. They believe that you know yourself best and if you can be productive sitting alone in a quiet environment, you know where to go to. Likewise, if you know you produce more work with people buzz around you, you have another environment for that. That also explains why some people love to do work in cafes like Starbucks and Coffee Bean.
You need to be able to match your personal energy with your work energy to get productive



 

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