Is it possible to get more done by doing less? I wouldn’t have said so until I was introduced to Time Theming. You might have read our article on how Google employees create a structure for their week by creating a theme for every day. For example, Monday is a low energy day so you do less energetic tasks. Time theming works similarly. You create a theme for your time and wrap up every day with three to-dos for the next working day.
It helps you cut down the fluff, and when your head hits the pillow you won’t have any thoughts racing around in your head. So, if you’re ready to start getting more done while doing less, here’s how to get started with time theming.
1. Block out your time
The only thing that stops you from getting things done is poor time management. And that comes from a desire to do too much. And a belief that all tasks carry the same weight. But it’s simply not true! In order to do less every day but get more done, you can be chipping away at tasks over and over or you can be blocking out your time for the important things.
For example, taking the time before lunch to do one thing, and the time after lunch to focus on another, without letting those tasks overlap at all. This could be the difference between working smart and working hard.
2. Cut the crap
Some tasks make no sense, or they’re just wasting your precious time. You might not have the luxury of cutting things out altogether, but you can definitely prioritize. Figure out what you actually need to accomplish by a certain time. Figure out what is most important to you and learn to say no (or at least “not right now”) to make sure you’ve got enough time for all those priority tasks.
You might need to analyze your tasks a little bit. Sit down for a conversation with your co-workers or manager to find out what they deem to be your most important tasks. Understanding which tasks have the most weight will help you decide what to work on first.
3. Create a no chatting zone
The biggest time waster is chatting. Of course, a silent workspace would be a bit demotivating. But a busy workspace is often an unproductive one, especially when the only thing people are busy doing is talking. Combat this by creating a ‘no chatting zone’ for yourself. If you find that the last few hours of the day are spent talking, plug in your headphones and block out the world around you. It’s the best way to make sure you’re focusing. Get all your socializing done at lunch, and plan after-work drinks on a Friday so you can fully catch up about everything.
Combat this by creating a ‘no chatting zone’ for yourself. If you find that the last few hours of the day are spent talking, plug in your headphones and block out the world around you. It’s the best way to make sure you’re focusing. Get all your socializing done at lunch, and plan after-work drinks on a Friday so you can fully catch up about everything.
4. Simplify your personal life
If you balance both halves of your life, your work life, and your home life, everything you do will go smoothly. Simplify it all by keeping track of everything that you’re doing. How much water you drink in a day, how much exercise you’re doing, the appointments and notes you have to do for yourself. If you’ve gathered it all together in one place with your work tasks, you’ll feel like you’re already three steps ahead.
I personally love to plan my day with the Getting Things Done planner because it allows me to create the perfect work/life balance and track all the stuff I’ve got to remember once I leave the office.
5. Theme the day
Time theming is all about getting the right things done in the right way. If you draw boxes for each hour of the day, how would you fill them up? Would those ‘hour’ boxes be filled with one particular task? Would you see lots of small things taking up a lot of time? It’s a good idea to visualize your day as something tangible. Blocks of time that need to be filled. And give yourself a theme. Know which tasks you’ll be accomplishing and when.
Before you leave work, give yourself three goals to accomplish tomorrow. That way, you know already what you need to be working on. And won’t waste any of your precious time blocks worrying about tomorrow’s tasks.
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