Saturday, November 16, 2019

Listen up Mr. Rabbit!

Time Management

“Slow it down, make it stop or else my heart is going to pop..cause it’s too much, yeah it’s a lot to be something that I am not” – the very famous song by Australian Singer Lenka.

Whenever I think of time, I think of the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, wearing a waistcoat, holding a pocket watch, and muttering "Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!" Alice then follows him down the rabbit hole into the Wonderland.

Metaphorically we are all that white rabbit running against time to be something that we are not.  Alice on the other hand felt she had a lot of time. She was curious and followed her heart.
A few days back I got a call from a friend; one of my closest buddies since childhood. She was in town only for a day and so wanted to see me the same day. It had been years since we last met.

I checked my schedule,  made all the arrangements back home for who’s going to watch over the kids, what we’ll be having for dinner, I ironed the uniform, prepared for the lecture huffing and panting. And was able to make time to see her but I promised myself that I won’t take more than two hours.

On the way, I recalled all the mischief that we did together as kids, the fun school days, being the back benchers, being called into the principal’s office together several times for not performing well in academics and I realized what is the point of seeing an old friend in such a hurry? Why can’t I just forget about the time while I am with her.?

So I decided I won’t look at the watch and would only laugh my heart out while I am with my friend. I did that. And it was swell!  It was one of those rare moments of delight and sheer laughter that you have when you meet an old school chum.

 When I walked out of CCD, I thought I must be super late but when I saw the time i was surprised to know that we were together for only one and a half hours!! 

Shefali Tsabary, the popular psychologist says that when we are always very conscious about time, we often forget to live in the moment and then in the later part of our lives are caught up with diseases like hypertension, high blood pressure and even heart attack!

 Running after TIME could be one of the reasons for it. The right interpretation of ‘time is money’ is to value it, avoiding its wastage on the things that do not matter to us and not to make ourselves appear super-busy all the time.

But the question remains –How to better manage the time that we have in hand?

I remember reading a story in which a professor fills a jar of glass with golf balls and asks his students if the jar was full. He then puts some pebbles into it and those pebbles occupy the empty spaces between the golf balls. He asks again – Is the jar full? And the students say yes sir! And he picks up some sand and inserts in the same jar. The sand fills up the void between pebbles and the balls.

The professor goes on to say – Just like the golf balls made the jar appear full, there are things and people in our lives who matter the most and seem to make our lives fulfilling. Had I put pebbles or the sand first into the jar, there would have been no space for the golf balls!

So while prioritizing the time, we need to remember the golf balls first and make more room for them. In life they are our family, friends, people we truly love, our mentors and our passion. The pebbles are the other important things like our job, house, car, secondary to the golf balls. Everything else is the sand.

So how to plan our day so we can carve out more time for our golf balls?

Here are certain ways as suggested by Rory Vaden – The Management Expert

He says give emotional permission to yourself to do the things that will give you more time tomorrow.

For this he suggests a focus funnel –

First Ask yourself –
Can I eliminate this task? The more things that we say no to today the more time we create for tomorrow.
Most of the time we spend with our ‘to do’ list, we need to ask what we should not be doing. Perfection is not when nothing more can be added but when nothing more can be taken away from our ‘to do’ list.

Rory calls it significance calculation – how significant is this task on my ‘to do’ list?
The next question is if I cannot eliminate this task, can I automate it?
In his own words -
“Automation to your tasks is what compounding interest is to your money. For example there’s something called online bill pay that can pay your bills automatically but for that you have to set it up.
Compound interest takes money and makes it into more money, automation takes time and makes it into more time.”

The third part of focus funnel - If I cannot automate it, can I delegate it? Can I teach someone how to do that particular task for me?

If none of these works, then you ask yourself – if it has to be done by me, does it need to be done now? But if can be done later and it’s not majorly contributing to your LT goal, then ‘procrastinate it on purpose’.

Procrastinating is not a good habit. But a thoughtful procrastination can work wonders.

So give more time to your golf balls, live in the moment and use the concept of focus funnel that is – either  eliminate, automate, delegate or procrastinate but on purpose.

Also, there are hundreds of ‘to do’ list management mobile applications to help you cope up with the management of time but I would prefer going by the traditional methods, as I think we are already too obsessed with those screens to be spending  some extra time over them.

   It would be a better idea to go a bit vintage with your humble diary, white boards or bullet journals - marking out the dates and adding the tasks into it with your own hands. It would also give some respite to your precious eyes and neck!

But of course if you are someone who has to deal with insane lists of tit-bits, important appointments and meets then there are certain apps that are doing well in the market that I personally liked –

Remember the milk app -
This simple virtual assistant allows you to:
  • add tasks
  • associate tasks with sub-tasks
  • define due dates for everything you need to do today, tomorrow, this week, or any other time
There is also an option of smart lists that is created on the basis of your previous criteria.

If all that you need to get started is FOCUS – then probably these two apps are meant for you –

Rescue Time which is an automatic productivity tracker and also the Forest – focus app.

Thomas Frank suggests – Todoist app, the best feature he says is its natural language processing.

Kidsstoppress is another great app for kids, their food planning and for getting great tips like how to handle a fussy eater or what to pack for a holiday.

Evernote is another, for storing important documents and accessing them on the go!