Clear mental clutter with a time management system
There is only so much that you can physically do at any one time. You only have so much energy. Most people find that easy to accept. Unfortunately, most people don’t realise that the same is true of mental activity i.e. your brain can only work on one thing at a time. How many small or less important tasks are you committed to doing? Are you trying to remember these in your head? How many appointments, birthdays and the likes are you mentally keeping track of in your head right now? That’s a lot of clutter in your brain and not something you need to keep mental tabs on. They are taking up energy which could be used better. If this is how you work, you need a time management system.
When you don’t have a time management system
Believe it or not, having to remember too many different things will slow down your productivity. You’re happily working away on a report when you suddenly remember that there is something else you need to get done. It could be another task for work or home. It couldn’t be anything from filing your taxes to picking up some milk. It doesn’t matter what it is; it is taking your concentration, focus and energy away from what you should be doing right now.
A simple time management system
Thankfully there’s an easy fix. Grab your smart phone or log into your calendar e.g. Google Calendar and use it to keep track of all birthdays, anniversaries, appointments, and meetings for you. You can even set the calendar to remind you about important dates and times. No need to keep a mental note. Now, the energy which your mind was wasting trying to keep track of all of this can be used for more important tasks.
Are there specific tasks which have to be remembered at specific times? It’s best not to clog up your calendar as the calendar can then lose its usefulness. Instead, set up reminders on your phone and email system which will alert you when you need to take action. For example, if you have to pick up milk on the way home from work and you know you finish at 5; you may choose to set a reminder for that time. You will then get a message to remind you of what you need to do, at a time when you can actually do it. Again, this eliminates some mental clutter and frees up precious mental energy to work on the more important tasks.
If the item is not time specific, then it is best for you to add it to one of your time management lists so that you can take action when you get the opportunity.
If you would like to learn more great time management tips, check out Quick Fixes for Your Productivity.
Using reminders, calendars and lists is part of an effective time management system. It is important that you use each for the right purpose and to ensure that you set up your time management system in a manner which allows them to work seamlessly together. No item should appear in 2 or more places but every item must appear somewhere. When you set this up, you will find that you remove a large amount of mental clutter and you get to spend more energy boosting your performance.