How to work with time, not against it
Too often we battle with time and think it flies too fast, yet we also complain how time gets extra slow when we’re at work and we have to deal with crappy tasks or we spend the entire afternoon watching the clock until it hits 5 PM so we can zoom out of work.
What is that? That’s now how we’re supposed to be dealing with time.
Time is our friend. Time lets us prepare the small things for the big thing to come. Time allows us to enjoy it, make the most of it, and cherish it because with time, there is no second chances, there is only the now. Let me be cliché for a moment and add that for hurt people, time heals wounds. Maybe not all of them, but most. In the right time, everything that should fall into place rightfully does.
I know I’m not the only one panic-stricken when another Monday comes around and it reminds me that I have to be adult again and deal with the world, and so I worry so much that I might not make the most of my time or I’d procrastinate yet again. Who doesn’t, right?
So that said, I came up with 8 simple steps how you can work with time and not against it. I may not be a time expert, but I’ve had my fair share of time frustrations and worries so rest assured that all 8 steps came from my own personal #hugots, which are all doable.
I know. “Ugh, do I really have to????”
No, not really. But if you want to have a more productive day, it wouldn’t hurt to ditch that 1-hour stalking on Instagram or Twitter late at night and sleep a little bit earlier. It’s for your own good anyway, right?
I understand not all of us are early birds and we are simply not morning persons. But did you know that waking up earlier than you normally do helps you plan out your day and schedule your tasks more accordingly? It also avoids you from having a frazzled state of mind when you wake up late (again) and rush ahead with your day, which most likely leaves you unfocused with work, cranky towards others, and reckless or clumsy with your ways. It also doesn’t help when you have big meetings ahead or a specific task requires keen eye to details but you just can’t concentrate simply because you felt hurried right when you woke up – and you still do at the moment.
More so, waking up extra early lets you have your time before you deal with the hustle and bustle of the city life. For example, you will finally have time to meditate, exercise or read a chapter of a book (or something else that you keep putting off because sleep always lures you back), have a healthy breakfast, and enjoy a relaxing shower. Doesn’t that sound more wonderful than rushing into everything all at once? (Hello breakfast + work combo)
Here’s my personal take on this:
I wake up early so I can do a couple of household chores before I work. Since I work from home, there’s no need for me to step out and wrestle with other commuters on the way to work. But it doesn’t mean I have the time of my life, and that’s what my handy dandy notebook is for. I jot down the things I have to do or make a mental schedule. If you prefer to go visual, you can use also use Momentum to jot down quick notes and have something nice greet you every time you open a new tab.
More often than not, we think of work as a chore, not something we look forward to every day and enjoy. If you were compromised because of financial needs, then you might as well find something good about your work – look at it as an avenue to learn.
You’d be surprised that once you start taking your work as a challenge more than a problem or a forced responsibility, it can teach you a lot, not just with the technical part of your work per sé, but with your personal development as well. When you start to appreciate your work, you put more effort into it and dedicate your time to it, not against it. When you start to appreciate your work, you will find less reasons to procrastinate and focus on your work right then and there.
Here’s my personal take on this:
Work doesn’t have to be so hard and it can show you a lot of different perspectives once you truly appreciate it for what it is. It can also leave you with nice life lessons. Not good at dealing with nitty gritty details? Maybe you can practice more patience. Have to read a tone of articles for a write-up? It’ll teach you to be a more flexible writer and open with different opinions. Have a cranky boss? Try to be a little kinder, maybe you can even rub some of it on him when you do it enough.
Whatever work you do, try to seek adventures in the little things. Take your work as a challenge more than as a burden. If all else fails, it won’t hurt to trick yourself into thinking that you actually love your job. A little optimism goes a long way.
What’s an easier way to manage your time effectively but look for a method that works for you, right?!
Here’s my personal take on this:
I tried The Pomodoro Technique and wrote about my thoughts on it. In a nutshell, it worked for me. But no matter how great a time management method is, if you don’t utilize it, it won’t work for you. At the end of the day, you call the shots. After a few days, I started going back to my original state – I would work on and off and not have 100% of my focus on work, but I have to remind myself that I’m only human and my mind wanders, too.
I try to be consistent with The Pomodoro Technique because I realized that it worked for me and I just have to instill discipline in myself and in my work so I can utilize the time management method. When I’m pressured with time, I tend to work with haste, therefore I am able to do more. On my first attempt with the Pomodoro, I was able to finish 5 articles in one day when my average is usually 3.
It might take you some time to try and see if a method works for you or not, but whichever the case may be, it won’t hurt to try and ask for some help from some time and/or psychological experts or smartphone apps to help you make your days more smooth-sailing and less stressful.
To be honest, there’s no greater advice than this.
Living in the present is the best way to spend your time wisely. When you live in the present, you don’t get anxious over your past or worry about your future. You live as is and spend your time in the best way you can.
Living in the present means forgetting the rest of the world and not minding looking silly with what you do because you love it. It gives you a reassurance that no second is being wasted, letting you reflect back on that scene and knowing that you were in that moment.
Living in the present is about ditching the “perfectly curated life” for something more real, more genuine.
When you live in the moment, you are also allowing yourself to focus on that alone and nothing else. Life can be colorful and busy, but sometimes we need to take pauses and concentrate on just one thing alone. One day you will find yourself remembering old glimpses of your life and say, “Thank God I lived presently at that moment.”
As with work, stop thinking of things you should have done earlier or could do better later. You have the time right now so use it, spend it well. Engaging in your task at hand with 100% of your attention will make you feel more productive, if not actually productive!
Some people boast of their multitasking skill, thinking that it’s actually a skill that everyone should admire, but in reality, it’s only counterproductive. While some people do have a lot to juggle on their plates on a daily basis, doing things at a certain pattern, more likely organized, is different from multitasking.
Read: It’s one thing to say that you have to do a lot of things and crossing them out of your checklist by doing them one task at a time, it’s another to do everything all at once.
Trust me, if anyone deserves having the “Queen of Multitasking” title, that should be me, but it’s precisely the reason why I’m telling you not to practice this habit. I know it well enough by now to not recommend it.
From what I experienced, multitasking allows me to do a lot of things at the same time, but not accomplish anything.
Why? Because everything I do is half-baked and doesn’t get the full attention they need.
Unlike focusing on one task at a time, I end up asking myself, “Why am I not getting anything done?” If you’re also one to ask that question often, maybe it’s time to ponder on some things and realize that maybe, just maybe, you are not using your time as smartly as you think you are.
Even better? Prepare them the day before.
Here’s my personal take on this:
My workspace is our dinner table and I don’t want to see clutter anywhere on it before I work (psst, clutter can be a major cause to distraction without us knowing; distraction = lesser productivity or unnecessary breaks), so the night before, I make sure everything is put back in their proper places, although there are still days when I see plates and mugs on the table, but that’s unavoidable since I’m not the first person who wakes up in our household.
Before I go to sleep, I make a mental list of things I have to do the next day, and prepare myself mentally, too. It usually doesn’t prove hard for me to wake up early the next day when I know I have something important to do, so I can do without an alarm even if I sleep late, let’s say, at midnight.
Practically speaking, that’s also the usefulness of planners (hello, Starbucks lovers). Even weeks beforehand, you can plan out your days, your weeks, your months. If you’re one of them who makes it a point to have that to-die-for planner, but end up not using it and turning it into a bookshelf decor, maybe it’s time that you analyze your intentions and determine what your priorities really are. If not a paper and pen, then use your phone. There are a lot of apps you can use to jot down notes where you can also put notifications on them to remind you.
If else, rely on the power of your memory. 😉
If you’re that antsy towards time, just think – it just flies by. Your 10 AM can become a 4 PM easily. Sometimes we worry so much about time that we don’t realize we missed our chance and didn’t even see our day unfold, well.. because we subconsciously chose not to see it.
If you just keep yourself busy with what you’re doing, it’s so much easier for your day to happen and come to an end.
From my personal perspective, it’s dumb to keep watching the time for nothing. I mean, fine, all you want it to be is 5PM, and then what? You will always have a 5PM in your days, so you might as well spend your time on things that make you feel productive before the clock hits your anticipated time.
Remember: The years are short. When you don’t pay attention to your time, your days will turn into weeks, weeks into months, months into a year, all right under your nose. You can’t really say that time crawls because in reality, it zooms past.
Time is only slow for people who have no responsibility because they have nothing to worry about, to think of, to prioritize, to take care of. I know you’re not one of them. Otherwise, why would you be reading this blog post and reaching up to this point?
When you have goals throughout the day, you will feel a greater sense of purpose, therefore time isn’t an issue. And it shouldn’t be, in the first place. It might have taken you hours to fix your car, but at least you were able to do it and you spent your time providing a solution and did not simply worry about a problem or stared at your car, hoping fairy godmother would pop up with a handful of tools. I sure hope you didn’t expect her to get on her knees and overhaul your car for you.
It might have taken you a week to finish an entire article when you could write a 1,000-word blog post in an hour easy, but at least you know that you polished that article with the best that you can and made a comprehensive research to provide nothing but the most accurate and relevant facts and sources. Some things take time and you have to remind yourself that instead of battling with time, befriend it to make your days productive and intentional.
Big things need breaks, too. At the end of the day, it’s not about how fast you finished something or how little time you took compared to someone else; it all boils down to your intentions and if you were able to deliver to them.
Now that was one lengthy post! I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it. I’ll be frank, this is the only thing I accomplished this Sunday, something that should have been random, spontaneous, and a short read (well, it should be quicker to read than to write) but I had my purpose as to why I wrote this, I put my effort into it, and I tried to leave personal examples so you could relate. On top of that, I was in the now in the process of writing.
Some of my methods might work for you, some may not. As I said, it takes time to manage your.. time. Don’t lose hope. I know eventually you’ll find the right method for you! Otherwise, you can create your own. 😉
To cap this off, what did you think of this blog post? Do share them on the comments section below!
Make your coffee be strong and your week productive,