I recently watched this television show where an Amish person was introduced to smartphones and twitter. He said that he could see people spending a lot of time on these things. But at the same time he thought it was strange, as people from what he understood generally regarded time as a valuable resource these days.
So it got me thinking about how I spend my own time…
It has been a little while since I revealed my story to you on how my journey towards sustainable internet income has lasted me over four years now, and I am still working on the “sustainable” part.
Time flies, and it it has been exactly one month since I wrote that post here on this blog. So what have I been up to all that time?
Well, I have been busy with daily and weekly routines like my full time job, being a father and husband-to-be, and other responsibilities and projects – and at the same time been working on this blog and creation of information products (and everything related to that).
In one way it feels like I have done very little…
But in another way I think I have taken a lot of action. I have written 7 blog posts, created and written a brand new blog creation report and creating squeeze pages for it (split testing two versions), done some traffic generation, and expanded on my scheme for world domination (that last one you don’t have to take too seriously…).
Anyways, enough bragging…
No matter whether or not that is enough work to be labeled consistent focused “right action” or not, I have learned some tricks along the way (and expanded on some old knowledge I had) when it comes to managing my time and using it effectively.
And this is what I want to share with you in this post.
You see, I am a firm believer in the 80/20 rule.
The 80/20 rule is a guiding principal which basically dictates that almost anything can be cut down in to a division where 20% produces 80% of the total. For example 20% of an employer’s staff take 80% of his time (HR and management wise), 20% of the work you put in to a project produces 80% of the result, etc.
So, the last example is what I want to impress on you.
It is a principle which we can either ignore and suffer by, or acknowledge and manipulate to our advantage.
How would you like to sit down and work efficiently in a very short time (down to as little as 20 minutes.. more on that later), and get done more than a lot of people normally get done in a full work day?
Stay with me, because now I’ll get right to the two time management techniques I’ve discovered. One I have used over the last year or two, the other I am just starting to use – and I LOVE the results.
Planning – Know Where You Are Going
Please DO NOT be put off by the simplicity of this principle and the following techniques.
I touched on planning in my previous flying bread dough post where I stated the importance of planning before taking action.
How can you know that your actions are taking you anywhere you want to be, unless you first state where you want to go (my own take on a Yogi Berra’s quote)?
Make a to-do list
When it comes to planning you gotta start with an overall goal, then break it down from there.
For example “main goal – becoming a flower decorator” and breaking it down into milestones/goals like “milestones – attending flower decoration classes, practice at home, get a job”. You should then take each of those milestones/goals and split them into actionable mini-steps like “home practice – one hour every Wednesday and Friday practice last day’s lessons at home, buy any materials needed, invest in needed equipment, etc”.
In this way you can backwards-engineer your way to a bigger goal. And end up with actionable actions on your to-do list.
I simply use the iPhone Reminders App to keep track of my to-do list. There are a lot of good to-do list software out there – just google it if you need one.
You gotta prioritize!
Your to-do list can also work as a good way to keep on track. If you find yourself using a lot of time on a specific task, check if you have it on your to-do list. If not, stop it!
If it is on your to-do list, ask yourself whether or not this task is getting you closer to reaching your goal. If it isn’t, scratch it off your list and continue on your to-do list.
And finally, if it is getting you closer to your goal, but taking a lot of time… Simply outsource or delegate it, or investigate if there is a way you can get better and more effective with that type of task.
Couple that with actually setting aside time for each coming week ahead of time (for example between 8pm and 10pm on Wednesday, 10pm to 11pm on Thursday and 7pm and 11pm on Sunday), and you have my secret to accomplishing things effectively with the time I have available.
Focus, focus, focus!
The other secret technique I have grown to discover is the importance of focus. Being able to shut out all distractions and focus ONLY on one given task at the time.
It’s not easy (believe me, I know), and it demands practice like everything else. You can do a lot to help yourself get better at it though.
Apart from shutting out actual distractions (like turning off the television, close the browser, reduce any noise, etc.), you can make use of a great technique I just discovered which can help you get amazing things done in as little as 20 minutes.
The Multiple Put Down Technique
This technique, the multiple put down, was popularized by Dave Logan. It basically consists of directing your full attention to the task at hand for 20 minutes at the time.
Here is how to do it:
- Prepare your brain for the fact that ”a task is coming that will require its recall, creativity, and brilliance” (source: multiple put down), and wait a little while before starting the task (up to a day, or more)
- When you’re ready to start, have a stopwatch or timer with you. Set it to 20 minutes and hit start
- Once the timer starts, put full attention to the task at hand, not giving in to any distraction. You might hit a wall, but don’t give up
- After 20 minutes you can either chose to take a break, or continue for another 20 minutes the same way
- Repeat over and over as many times as you want
Simple, but effective. I have used it for a couple of sessions now, including for the writing of this post – and it ROCKS!
Gotta have some stick-to-it-iveness
A last piece of advice is to develop some “stick-to-it-iveness” (I heard about this phrase from Dan Kennedy) when it comes to reaching your goals.
It is very easy to start multiple projects at the same time and dream up big goals for the future. But unless you actually break down the goals in to manageable tasks and complete them one by one, you’ll never reach your goals.
So… Armed with this knowledge, do you think you are better equipped to reach your goals, and in less time? I know I am!