When I was little my father used to tell me, “timing is everything.” Each year this phrase has made increasingly more sense, and I’ve come to realize that when we do things can matter as much as what we do. Reflecting on this truth, I’ve identified three time-related principles that can increase your productivity and success.
OPERATE IN SYNCH WITH YOUR BODY
Each person has a unique internal rhythm which impacts factors such as:
- what time of day we feel most productive (morning person vs. night owl)
- how much sleep we need (5 hours vs. 9 hours)
- what environment we work most effectively in (e.g. inside vs. outside)
- how we learn/produce (e.g. sitting down vs. standing up/moving)
If we want to maximize efficiency, it makes sense to be self aware and schedule our tasks accordingly. Some musicians I know are at their most creative in the wee hours of the morning. Many athletes I know enjoy the pre-dawn hours for a workout. There is no wrong time, as long as it feels right to you. Admittedly, many of us must work within an employer’s/family’s constraints, but to the extent that we can choose when/where to work, it makes sense to go with- rather than against- what our bodies want.
MAKE TIME WORK FOR YOU
We all have a series of tasks to complete in any given day. Many times we perform these tasks at the time we feel we “should,” instead of when we would be most convenient. A simple example is dinner preparation. We wait all day and start making dinner at 5 or 6 (or 7…) because this is what we’ve always done. In reality, however, the 5 o’clock hour is often the most chaotic time of day, when we may be driving kids around, bouncing a colicky baby, or dragging in from a long day at work. Instead of waiting, consider tackling the chopping/measuring/table setting/prepping at a calmer time of day. Ever watch a chef prepare a meal on a TV show in about 5 minutes? It’s because most of the work is already done. Maybe chop veggies as you are eating breakfast, or consider pre-measuring all ingredients during naptime. With a bit of planning, you can even do a fair amount of prep work over the weekend to carry you through the week
This concept can be applied to many of our daily responsibilities. Take a look at the tasks you regularly perform, especially those that seem stressful, and ask yourself “Can I do any part of this at a time which would work better for me?”
USE OTHERS’ TIME WISELY
Many items on the “to do” list require participation from another person. This is a tough one, because we can’t control when & how others behave. However, we can increase our odds of success by being intentional and thoughtful. Always ask yourself, “When is the best time to ask this person for help with this request?”
- It’s probably not the moment he first walks in the door,
…but it may be when he’s stuck in the airport, waiting for a flight, and has time to kill.
- It’s probably not the night before the complex deliverable is due,
…but it may be 2 weeks in advance, when he can meet your need without throwing his own schedule off.
- It’s probably not when your teen is trying to get to practice, study for 2 tests and tackle an unexpected project,
…but it may be on the weekend or the Friday night when she’s got no plans.
The key here is that by respecting other people’s time, you actually increase your own productivity.
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There may never be enough time to leisurely accomplish all you need to do, but a bit of intentionality can help you make the most of every minute you’ve got.
What tricks have helped you make the most of your time?