Every one of us experiences dread and work-aversion from time to time. Any sensible time management strategy will not ignore this fact. So why not work with it instead?
Putting off work is more common than you think, so don’t feel like it’s only you.
We are quick to label such activity as procrastination, but this is not always true. The thing we call procrastination is often part of the process – it helps us prepare.
In most cases, when we procrastinate, we are thinking about the work we should be doing. This is not always a bad thing. If we pause for a moment and think about the task at hand, we’re more likely to improve the task somehow.
The real obstacle with doing our dreaded work is actually getting started. So if you want to manage your time optimally, then the focus should be placed on getting started with your work.
What does it take to get the ball rolling?
I have found that the best time management tips out there are those to get you jump-started on the task at hand. So if you are really interested in how to master the management of your time, why not employ ways to warm up your mind first?
Five ways to jump-start your tasks
Each of us has our own personal method for postponing the beginning of our work. This means that whatever warm-up technique works for me may not be the answer for getting you started in the morning – and vice versa.
Remember that when you can shorten that time gap between putting off your work and getting started, you employ a powerful time management technique that will make a huge difference. Let us look at eight ways to get you started.
The most powerful mental tool you have at your disposal is your subconscious mind.
Unfortunately, many people sneer at this concept and dismiss it as hokum. Yet how can dreams be explained, and how we drive 45 minutes to work sometimes and not remember doing it?
I believe the cynicism about the subconscious stems from many of us not knowing how to put it to work. The key is to use your subconscious mind in a calm, relaxed setting. And when it comes to jump-starting your mind for work, the very best time is the night before.
On the night before your workday, review and determine mentally precisely what you would like to accomplish the next day. Do not issue any commands – you’re simply stating to your subconscious how you intend to do this. This is important in the conscious planning stage.
By planting this idea, you put that larger mind that resides outside of your conscious thought to work. You are giving it time to process and mull over the concept, sift through images, and gather energy.
I think we’ve all had the experience of watching those subconscious disaster tapes play in our heads about things in our lives. However, when you present an exact plan to your subconscious, you’ve shifted its focus to something concrete.
After you’ve planted the idea seed, there’s one more important step – then forget about it. Your inner mind doesn’t need your conscious thoughts muddying up the process, so let it work for you.
The best ideas we ever have are when we’re doing things like driving home, taking a shower, or at the movies – when our subconscious delivers an answer.
Another method that will enhance your overall time management plan and get you jump started is to prepare for your day physically. This means you’ll need to do a quick review of the things that will be needed to start on your tasks.
This could be software or tools, prerequisite tasks, or even the services of other people. A simple review of these in your mind the night before will be a long way in getting you prepared.
Waiting until the last moment adds more stress than you need, and is an invitation to make mistakes or forget something vital. +
The key here is to review the broad steps of the task at hand and let your inner mind flesh everything out. Be careful not to dive into too much detail and obsess over little things, as this would defeat the purpose of preparation. If you find an oversight, then calmly plan on how you intend to deal with it.
Start wherever you prefer
Sometimes, the beginning is not the ideal place to start.
This is especially true for larger projects that have many components and milestones. Humans are wired to think sequentially, so it can be challenging to wrap your mind around starting somewhere else – other than the beginning.
There are countless reasons for not starting at the beginning. For instance, the beginning may require the completion of other tasks first, you don’t have the tools or information to start at the beginning, or perhaps the allotted time slot for that day is better suited for downstream tasks.
Whenever you remove the sequential thinking regarding your work, it will open your mind to many other possibilities. Such an approach is a powerful time management method for professional project managers.
Sometimes the solution for jump-starting our work is a simple one – like just get started.
While we sit and think about the reasons not to start our work, we force ourselves to start – the rest takes care of itself.
This is especially true of people with lots of experience. If they just start, then all that knowledge and experience takes over the process. And it comes out naturally.
You will hear writers say this. They suffer from “writer’s block” and feel that they have no idea or inspiration on what to write about. Yet when they start typing, their minds magically begin fleshing one out for them.
This innate power is not reserved for writers – any of us can use this tool.
Ignore the critics
There is one simple fact we have to accept – we are human beings, and we will make mistakes. Unfortunately, mistakes are not always equal. Some of us are allowed to make them in private, while the errors of others become more public and more painful.
Either way, we have to acknowledge them, regroup, try not to repeat it, and then get back to work. As if mistakes themselves aren’t bad enough, they often come with critics as well.
Criticism can be crippling, and how we handle it will determine our success in the long run. If we focus on the fear of criticism (which is really the fear of failure), then we’ll have all kinds of problems getting started. In fact, criticism could be considered the kryptonite of effective time management.
Frequently, when we take a closer look at some of our loudest critics, we discover that they’re afraid to risk anything in their lives. They’ve spent their entire lives walking on the safest path – scared to death of taking any chances.
Here’s how to disarm the criticism. Review the last big mistake you made that drew a lot of criticism. Rather than focus on the despair and disappointment you felt, focus instead on how you survived the ordeal – and how you learned from that experience. Think about the things you did admirably when you made the mistake – such as taking responsibility for it and helping to correct it.
Now think about how you could handle the mistake better next time – not how to correct it, but how you would deal with it. For instance, should you have been less emotional or informed more people?
The fact is you’re going to make mistakes again – all of us are. But you survived past mistakes, and you did some things admirably. You have also prepared yourself to handle future mistakes with even more grace and dignity.
Acknowledging your mistakes in this manner allows you to remove the sting of criticism. And when that is gone, you’ll boldly step forward and do your work successfully. Such a step will do wonders for your time management strategies.