How to keep “time” from pressuring you: Accomplish a lot while working rather than letting the work dictate your accomplishments.
Sometimes in an urgent situation it is necessary to muster all one's personal resources and put one's ego in the background to achieve a goal. For example, a production problem occurs, yet one must manage delivery on time. In such crises, one must go into high gear.
The same applies to all emergencies.
Then one relaxes and continues working—at least that is the way it ought to be. But some people continue working as if a disaster had struck. They are always in a frenzy—accumulating overtime and feeling as though they have accomplished little at the end of the workday. Constant stress is counter-productive, making people impatient, easily roused to anger, prone to making careless errors, and unable to focus. There are smarter solutions.
Nothing beats the prudent resolve to accord with the natural rhythms of life. Stress and relaxation must be in balance, as automatic as breathing in and breathing out.
Each of these time periods has its own unique quality which we can utilize. For eons now, ebb and flow have taken their turns, and their energy has neither waned nor diminished.
Our rhythm is in proper balance if we can continue working as if it were a never-ending process. We can accomplish much by doing so, and still not feel exhausted at the end of the day.
People can discover their own rhythm if they are permitted to have experiment, make mistakes and begin anew. The following are some important considerations.
Schedule more frequent, short breaks—times when you can consciously relax. A few minutes are sufficient to re-energize! Bodo Schäfer, best-selling author of the text "The Way to financial Freedom," tells of his strategy to have a 20-minute break every two hours. This makes for effective work during those two hours, and in the evening he still feels refreshed. Granted, not everyone has the freedom to take a 20-minute break during the workday, but perhaps a 5-minute break is possible.
All at Once
Many unimportant details can fragment one's day: e-mails that arrive all day long; conversations with colleagues, customers, and delivery people; taking care of the mail; and other routine tasks. And then there are the papers that constantly need to be filed. A salesman may find himself busy all day without doing what he is paid for—visiting potential customers.
Whatever those small tasks are, delegate as much as you can! [Translator: If one delegates by results instead of by method, the outcome is fabulous!) Routine tasks can be done in batches. For instance, designate a specific time to deal with e-mails, such as once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Make a list of calls to be made on a particular day, and set aside a time to work down the list. The same approach can be applied to answering mail, doing filing and other routine tasks.
Discover Your Personal Biorhythm
Adjust your work rhythm to your personal biorhythm. Observe yourself for a few days: When do you feel fresh and are able to work with high concentration? Set these times aside for the most important tasks and do nothing else during that time. If possible, let others know not to disturb you during this time span. Make it clear that you are concentrating on a specific task and defer making contact until the time you have set aside for returning telephone calls, for instance, or when other communication events are on the agenda.
Once this particular task is completed and your performance curve is lower, then do the routine things. When your performance curve is again on the upswing, deal with the project that requires all your energy and concentration.
Ten Minutes for the Next Day
At the end of the day, do a mental review regarding how the day has progressed. Where did things go smoothly, and where could things improve? Set time goals for the following day according to your biorhythm—not t because you want to become a slave to a schedule, but to have a helpful guideline that will aid you in maintaining your focus! Don't plan too much, allowing sufficient breathing space between appointments, schedules, tasks, etc., to deal with the unexpected.
And, in addition to the above, plan for one pleasant interlude each day—something you will look forward to, even if it is merely some time for yourself.
In Part III, the author discusses various “time thieves” that consistently rob from us, and proposes practical solutions for regaining control.