Tips on Time
Wondering why you feel like you get never get it all done? The short answer is that the important items get pushed aside for the urgent items because we are wired that way.
Our brains and bodies are deeply satisfied by immediate rewards. Reacting to something urgently usually comes with an automatic reward. Even if the reward is negative, our brains will take that over a non-response any day. When urgent is compared with important, we often find that the reward buzz is missing from the important. Sure the important will feel good one day in the future, but the reward cue is not immediate. Back in the early stages of human development, our reward cue’s helped us to hunt and gather effectively. Nowadays, those helpful instincts can actually push us around a bit more than we’d like.
Here are a couple of quick helpful tips:
- Use Pareto’s 80/20 principle to shorten your to do list. Chances are that you have stuff on the list you’d like to get done but ultimately will not add significant value to your work or home. Buddy up with a boss or a loved one and narrow down your list.
- Leverage your natural schedule. If you are a morning person work on important, non urgent, items right out of bed. Get started before you even leave the house. If you prefer evenings, then wait until after dinner to go after an important item.
We are dependent on reward cues to tell us what we need and want. There are far more rewards that come with reacting to urgent issues, than planning for the important.
- Create new cues for important, non-urgent work. Look for the rewards you get through reacting to urgent situations and use them to craft a new list you can use for accomplishing non-urgent goals. If you have coffee everytime a coworker brings you a problem. Change the cue to get your coffee every time something important gets checked off.
There are some great information pieces available through Daniel Amen (Brain Health), FranklinCovey (Productivity Experts) and Charles Duhigg (Habits and Reward Cues) that you can use to give additional insight and guidance.