You wouldn't go shopping without a budget in mind or a list, so why are you not doing the same thing with your time?
Life is a series of transactions, and when it comes to daily communication demands through emails and WhatsApps, at the very least, we’re paying for those interactions with the currency of our energy and our time. We overlook the fact that everything is a transaction, and every distraction costs you.
We need to be more selective about where we're investing our time and energy to ensure that we’re getting the returns we want.
Every task or job or interaction has a set of objectives. To achieve those goals, certain deliverables are expected of us, and we achieve those through projects, aims and deadlines. But when objectives are unclear or we misunderstand what is expected of us, we start allocating our time and energy very poorly.
Staying ahead in the rat race requires focusing on productivity and output, but how do we successfully do this, given those communication demands?
When you sit down in front of your computer and open your inbox, you need mental clarity. You need to know, at a glance, what you're buying for your time.
Opening up your inbox in calendar view focuses your attention and thinking on your goals. The first thing you see is your existing commitments. What you have already committed to achieving is spread out in front of you in calendar view, and budgeting your time for the day ahead is easier, because now you can clearly see how much time you have to do them.
Last week, we talked about the Stop, Drop and Roll productivity technique. Penning your objectives and commitments to paper serves three purposes:
What you committed to paper this morning includes current projects, goals, new ideas or angles on a particular task, new customers or leads, new commitments to achieve. By opening your inbox in calendar view, you allow yourself the time and head space to clarify those written goals for the day.
Expired demands can be expunged or marked completed, and you may even find free time now that some processes are complete, perhaps even fill in a day that was blank before. Update your calendar first, much as you would your shopping list, before spending any of your hard-earned time and energy budget.
Here's how you do that:
You will have a clearer view on what is expected of you, and open yourself up to the day’s communication demands by then switching to inbox view.
Most of us over-estimate what we can do in a day, and under-estimate what we are capable of in a year. How do we achieve those expectations? Well, day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment, of course.
If you open up your inbox and don't know what you’ve committed to doing or what you want to achieve, it’s like going shopping without a list or a budget in mind. You end up over-committing and spending much more than you would have on much less than you actually need (not want).
Much like those impulse-buying pangs of guilt after the fact, you end up going to bed at the end of the day with an unfulfilled list of what you needed to achieve. They call this time management, but you can’t manage time; you can only manage your own reactions to how much time you are given to be productive in a day.