Managing Time by the Inner Clock
There will always be those traditional "time-savers" or positive practices that help us accomplish more in less time. However, there comes a point as we are dashing madly from one activity to the next, that we must ask ourselves:
by David B. Bohl
Is this really saving me time?
Have I applied the time-saving methods I've learned, in a way that makes the most sense for me?
At REFLECTIONS Coaching LLC, we put a lot of consideration into refining what "time well spent" means to our clients. What does a balanced day, week, month, and so forth, look like to you?
Some refer to the body's natural bio-rhythms as the "inner clock." This is also called "circadian rhythms" - the energy fluctuations that humans experience throughout the course of their waking hours. Is it possible that the balanced lifestyle we seek can actually be found at the heart of our internal mechanism - our own body clock? If you are among the millions who enjoy a somewhat flexible schedule, try this time management experiment and see where it leads. Schedule your days by this "inner clock" and take notice of the effects the change has on your performance, your concentration, your moods, your relationships.
Below you'll find six tips to help you sync up your outer and inner clocks for the greatest mind-body-world alignment:
1. Save the most challenging tasks for your most "alert" time of day.
If you find that your mind is at its sharpest in the early morning hours, then plan for activities which require the greatest concentration during that time. Begin work that requires analytical or complex thinking just after the morning meal. Dive right into tackling your most intimidating task, and get it out of the way now so you won't have to suffer through it later, when you're past your "peak" for the day.
2. Save your second-best hours for socializing.
Often, when we feel like we're at our best, we have a tendency to want to be social. However, there is also the danger of "wasting" our most productive hours by engaging in menial conversations, sometimes even to excess. For this reason, it may be better to start on the "heavy artillery" tasks while we're on highest alert, as in Point One. Then, as we feel our energy levels drop slightly, take a break and make some time to interact with others. In many cases, the stimulation offered by other people can actually give us a lift, a fresh perspective, and maybe even offer solutions for work and life that we hadn't considered.
3. Plan meals and/or exercise around the times when your energy levels take a nose dive.
Many people feel their energy take a plunge at around 3 p.m. (although the exact time can vary and depends on your individual schedule). If you know that each day at a certain time your productivity suffers due to sluggishness or inertia, what can you do to restore energy to the body? Eat a healthy snack or small meal. Stretch, step outside for some air. Or, use this time to get your blood flowing with a little exercise and maybe even burn off lunch.
4. Put your new schedule to the test, make changes as necessary.
If you plan your daily jog in the park at 5 p.m. but find that time could be better used for some other activity, then change things around. Of course, every person has their own set of obligations, things they *must* attend to such as dropping off or picking up children at their various appointments, pre-scheduled meetings, after-work activities and regular meals with the family. It's still possible to fit these items in and use the other slots of time to carve out a plan that makes sense for you alone.
5. Take personal preferences into account.
If you put your mind to a certain task at a certain time but find yourself loathing the practice - then switch things up. Maybe the idea of crushing deadlines is what really gets your productivity motor humming at work. If that's the case, save some Urgent Tasks for the last leg of your day and rev yourself up for a recharge.
Of course, every person has their own responsibilities and obligations to meet. This means that maybe we don't have the luxury of total freedom as we manage our time. However, it is certainly possible to respond to our body's inner rhythms and plan our day's activities accordingly.
You may find that once you become "in sync" with what your body and brain want, you're a lot less resistant to doing the things you need to get done, a lot more productive - and one step closer to that balanced life you've been searching for.
Copyright 2007 David B. Bohl, REFLECTIONS Coaching LLC. All rights reserved.
Life coach and consultant David B. Bohl inspires corporate professionals, entrepreneurs and other individuals to define and create well-balanced, fulfilled lives. For insights into the work-life balance, sign up for Lifestyle and Workstyle Reflections, the monthly newsletter from REFLECTIONS Coaching, LLC or visit http://ReflectionsCoachingLLC.com to learn more.
David B. Bohl may be contacted at http://www.reflectionscoachingllc.com or firstname.lastname@example.org