Features | February 04, 2020
The best place to start controlling your day is by using your minutes. We’ve all been guilty of not starting a task or project because we think there is not enough time to finish, or even make a dent, in said task. Yet the sands of the hourglass show us every minute spent toward a task is one minute closer to getting it done.
The first powerful tool in your possession is the 10-minute timer. You’ve hit that 3:30 brain fog — every task looks too long and, honestly, you just dread everything. Set the timer. Ten minutes is the perfect amount of time to: flip through the latest trade magazine, go through “clutter” emails to decide what’s junk and what needs to be addressed, check in on your business Facebook page, and engage with your social networks on Twitter or LinkedIn. The timer is your friend. These are important things to do that can easily become a time suck. When the timer goes off, move on.
You can also use 10 minutes to knock out as many of those easy tasks on your to-do list in a row. This can include important but not urgent correspondence, filing paperwork or a follow-up on those “watch” jobs. The 10-minute timer is often a reboot for my day and gets me rolling again to tackle the next round.
Don’t discount the power of starting. If you’ve got a complex order you’ve put off tackling, take 10 minutes to get it started. You may be surprised (and relieved) at how much you get out of the way, and the next steps become much less daunting.
The Next Level: The 30-Minute Power Tool
OK — now you’re getting serious. This isn’t about a restart but getting some real work done. Tackling the easy list is also a smart move in your 30-minute block. Anytime I can blow through several of those easy tasks in a row, I get the endorphin rush needed to keep on track.
More often, however, when the pile of to-dos bears down, the best use of those 30 minutes is to tackle the thing I most wish was already done. I’ll be honest, the thing I most wish was already done is frequently the thing I least want to do. (In my home life, it is likely some housekeeping chore.) With my 30-minute timer, I know I’m only going to give this task 30 minutes. Anybody can handle 30 minutes, right? Even after years of 30-minute blocks, I admit I am nearly always amazed at how much I can accomplish in that time.
Tackling the Big Stuff 30 Minutes at a Time
I also use 30-minute chunks of time to work on big projects and ongoing important processes and improvements. You know what I mean: writing SOPs, going through the new computer system/safety program/employee handbook. It looks like a mountain, so getting it done seems impossible because you don’t have (and will never have) enough time. But you do.
“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” —Will Rogers
Every great journey is taken one step at a time. Don’t be afraid to tackle the big stuff with small chunks of effort.
The 60-Minute Lie
Don’t be lured by the hour block trap that your planner or electronic calendar suggests. For example, try setting meetings to start on the quarter hour, and watch how those one-hour meetings reform to 45-minute meetings. Other people may have an hour, but we’re in printing — we’ve got work to do!
What are you doing with the most important ingredient of a 24-hour day, your 1,440 minutes?
Mardra Sikora is the CEO of Pocket Folders Fast and is obsessed with time. Record time. On time. Making time. And on it goes. You can reach her via PocketFoldersFast.com or via Twitter @MardraInPrint.