Most of us agree that a lot more can be achieved in a given period of time if we focus on the task at hand rather than try to multitask. This learning was a turning point for me on my road to greater productivity. I am a dreamer. Daydreamer, to be more precise :-). This habit of mine has me drifting away in the middle of many tasks. Life has changed a lot since I started using lists and my trusted timer. I am able to achieve twice the amount I could earlier, even with the distractions of raising two young children who don’t understand the concept of focus.
There is a marked difference in the amount of work you can get done when there is a time crunch. Setting a timer to mark time for a specific task works on the same principle. I prefer to use a simple digital timer which is not a part of any other media device.
This is how I do it:
Step 1: Make a list of tasks to be done. You can add any task which takes more than 5 minutes to complete.
Step 2: Sort them in the order of priority, putting the most important on the top.
Step 3: Estimate the minutes it will take to complete each item on the list and write down that number against it.
The list might look something like this:
If the task might take more than 30 minutes, break it down. For example, a 40 minute task can be broken down into two chunks of 20 minutes each.
Once the steps above have been completed you can begin with the first on the list and set the timer for the time estimate that you gave. Commit fully to the task at hand and focus on completing it in the fastest and most efficient way possible. Once the alarm on the timer goes off, you can stand back and relax.
I sometimes cheat. If the baby is crying and needs attention, I stop the timer and attend to him. Then I resume as soon as I can. But I can vouch that this works much better if you avoid all distractions including attending to phone calls.
The benefits of using a timer are many. You can use it on any kind of task, complex, mundane or unpleasant. There is an immediate boost in energy much like the caffeine kick from drinking a strong cup of coffee. Without any side effects. I use my timer even when I am not feeling well and still need to get things done. There is an immediate sense of satisfaction when you strike off item by item on your to do list.
My six year old daughter and I play a game. When we have to get the house back in order and put things away before bedtime and neither of us feels like it, we set the timer. I set it for less time than I think it would take. We then race against the clock to win. When the work is done we both sit back and have a good laugh and wait for the timer to ring. It is loads of fun!
If you have never used a timer to supercharge your to do list, do give it a try. It will cut through the lethargy and rev up your engine.
Don’t forget to let me know how it goes.