Tuesday Tip: Smart Time Management Sets Us Up for Success

Tuesday Tip: Smart Time Management Sets Us Up for Success

By Yehudit Garmaise

Ambitious people can accomplish more and reduce stress by adopting 10 time-management techniques.

First, people who want to make the most of each day should think about when they are most productive. Honestly consider, “When can I best concentrate?” 

What kind of a bird are you? Once you determine whether you are “a morning bird,” “an afternoon lark,” or “a night owl,” try to schedule the hardest intellectual tasks at the times at which you know your brain is firing on all cylinders.

Then, leave the more mindless tasks, such as emptying the dishwasher and folding laundry when you usually feel “brain-dead.”

Make a daily schedule, and stick to it: For most people, whatever they do not schedule, does not get done. Use a notebook, your phone, or a schedule on your computer. Update your schedule to add in appointments, deadlines, and special projects.

Break down your tasks into smaller chunks: Schedule your day in chunks of time that are either hourly or every 30 minutes: depending on your attention span. Working indefinitely until one thing is done can be exhausting and demoralizing, so set time limits on how long you will work on each task.

Take breaks whenever you need them: Taking short breaks can make everyone more productive and improve their attention, according to the research of William S. Helton, a professor of human factors and applied cognition at George Mason University, who added during breaks, people should try to put away their screens for awhile.

To really give your brain a rest: Take a walk outside, draw, or paint, do a craft like needlepoint, listen to music, work out, or just sit somewhere comfortable and think. Give yourself space and time to see new perspectives.

Remember to schedule everything: Did you allow yourself time to eat regular meals, daven, learn Torah, clean up the kitchen, organize your papers, run out to do a few errands, walk outside in the fresh air, and regularly pursue fun activities and interests? Any time for tasks of basic self-care can easily get eaten up by other obligations if they are not scheduled.

Work as a team: When tasks get overwhelming, consider whom you can ask for insight. Tasks with which you struggle can sometimes be delegated or handed off to others who might have more time or expertise.

Before you leave work for the day: Take a few minutes to jot down what you know you need to start on right away the next day, so you don’t forget. Clear your workspace, so clutter doesn’t distract you in the morning.

Continue to schedule your time: even after you leave work. Menachem, who lives in Boro Park, sets aside an hour or two every weeknight after dinner to pursue his own creative projects. During this time, his phone from his day job is completely turned off and left behind.

“Don’t mix everything you do into one big cholent,” Menachem advises people who have many interests and passions. “When I am working at my day job, I focus on that, and at night, when I am with family, at shul, or working on other things, I don’t check my work e-mails and texts. 

“I use a different phone when I am not at work, so I can concentrate on other things and so loved ones can reach me.”

Take advantage of any short bursts of time that unexpectedly open up. Instead of simply scrolling through your phone or spacing out, ask yourself, “How can I be productive right now?” 

For instance, when the students of Rabbi Israel of Salant asked him his secret of attaining such vast knowledge and clarity in Torah, he replied, “I did it in five minutes!” The students laughed, but Rav Salanter explained that by best filling even short stretches of time with meaningful activities, everyone can achieve greatness.

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