Time Management

Clockwork egg timer.

Image via Wikipedia

My wife told me that I don’t do enough around the house.

She is, of course, correct.

I could make a list of excuses, but none of them matter.   There’s really only one reason: I have problems with time management.   I’m easily distracted.

For example, in the time it’s taken me to write the above three lines, I stopped to check a website, updated my Evernote installation, and added a new contact to my address book.

That’s not multi-tasking, that’s inefficiency.   People don’t actually multi-task.  Instead, they break concentration and completely switch gears.  Repeatedly.   They pretend they are doing a lot of things at once, when in fact they are doing a large series of individual tasks.  That’s serial single-tasking, poorly.

On top of that, I focus to the point of obsession.   The entire world goes away when I am working.

No, that’s not a contradiction.    I’m good at procrastinating and I am interested in everything.   If a random thought floats to the surface while I’m working, I follow it to Google and, if it’s interesting enough, I get lost.   It generally only happens during research or while doing a job I hate.

For those of you following along at home, I can be easily distracted from some tasks, then lock on to some tangent and have an evening disappear.

For some reason, my wife hates that, especially when there are dishes to be done and laundry to be folded.

This has blown up on me a few time.

We’ve come upon a solution, in three parts.

1.  Timer.  When I get on the computer, I set an egg timer for 1 hour.  When the time’s up, I’m done.   The time limit helps me focus on finishing the task at hand.    If I know I need to get a post written in an hour, I’m less likely to catch up on the comics in my news reader.

2.  Communication.   If I’m working on something that I know will take more than an hour, I tell her.   I’ve had to do that for each installment of the Make Extra Money series.

3.  Nagging.   If #1 has failed and #2 doesn’t apply, I’ve given my wife explicit permission to remind me, as often as necessary.  Sometimes, I don’t register everything people say when I am “lost”, so now she knows to keep trying if I don’t respond, or respond with a spaced-out “Uh-huh, yes, dear.”  Before, she was worried about upsetting me by nagging, but I wouldn’t have noticed the first few times.  Thankfully, with #1 and #2, #3 has only been an issue one.

Time limits, communication, and persistent reminders.  That’s my plan to manage my time.   Getting off of the computer has helped me be more useful with household chores and it’s given me a chance to be closer to the woman I love most.   The time-limited focus has even helped me get a couple of projects rolling.

We all have the same 24 hours.  Are you using yours efficiently?

(P.S.  Happy anniversary, honey.   These have been the best years I could ask for.)

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  • 17 comments

    Comments

    1. Good post! I tend to get distracted, myself. I am not really a big fan of watching TV, but I find I can get sucked into a TV show very easily if it is on. Such a contradiction since I don’t even like watching TV! :) I think it is just a good excuse to stall what I am doing. I am going to try some of the tips in your article.

    2. There are enough hours in the day. That’s the real problem. I’m feeling overwhelmed all the time now. Work, get home, feed baby, cook, blog, put baby to bed, brush teeth, floss, etc… whoa it’s 11pm already. nuts.

    3. I think this is something I need to work on as well, but it’s hard to remember you can’t do everything either!

      • Yes. My wife and I are discussing hiring help to keep things cleaned up. I’m launching a new business venture, plus blogging, plus working full time, and it’s not fair to leave everything else to her.

    4. I’m not sure if I’m ballsy enough for my anniversary post to use the word “nagging” but I get the gist of the plan. :-) I also catch myself going off on rabbit trails, especially when I am working on a task I don’t really like, so I think I will have to try that timer idea! I hope your plan works out long-term!

    5. I like the egg timer idea. Might try it out soon.

    6. I do pretty much the same thing. I have to give my self time based goals otherwise I will completely waste time. For example, I spent a few hours redesigning my website only to realize at the end that I never wanted it changed. I just got the idea from surfing another site and one suggestion made me want to change everything!

    7. Boy that sounds a lot like me. When I have a deadline, I’m really good at focusing in and getting things done but even then I waste at least twice as much time as I actually work. There are just too many distractions on the web! My wife is a lot like yours too and will ask me once but not realize I didn’t even hear her, then get upset when things she asked me to do don’t get done.

      I’m trying this egg timer thing this weekend! This is a great idea.

    8. Another Yakezie blogger is in my head. I needed this to get me back to what use to make me so efficient and effective. Somehow I have gotten away from these habits.

      Like you, I am quickly distracted. Often I find myself going back and forth between something that needs to get done, gmail, woopra, and facebook. It is crazy how much time i waste.

      Something I use to do is be accountable in 15 minute blocks. I would keep a notebook next to my desk and every 15 minutes I would mark down what I was doing for the previous 15 minutes.

      It was a way to keep a log of what I have been doing. Sounds distracting it really wasn’t. In fact, it help make me a monster once upon a time.

      I am getting back to that!

    9. I feel like RB40 most days. I find there is never enough hours in the day. I always seem to run out. Lately I have been trying harder to prioritize so we don’t get so burnt out and it seems to be working.

    10. Sounds like a common problem, doing little bits of multiple tasks, and not finishing many of them. In our house, the kitchen timer on the stove is a useful reminder used by all. When it goes off, the nearest person yells out “What’s the timer going off for?”

    11. The timer sounds like a good idea. I often see a link in one post which leads me to another post which leads me to a subject I want to research which leads me to a whole afternoon wasted. I do need to start focusing on one thing at a time and stop getting sidetracked.

    12. I am freaking TERRIBLE! I bet I could run my sites in half the time if I could just concentrate lol

      I like the egg timer idea

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