November 17th, 2010
Total Distance for today: 0 miles
Total Distance for Tour: approx. 377 miles
LOCATION: Richmond, VA
STATUS: Preparing for some talks at high schools in Richmond and calling ahead to Raleigh, NC
I’m still working on planning gigs ahead. This takes persistence, because I rarely land a gig on the first call. Usually, it’s after multiple contacts with someone at each particular school that something pans out. Yesterday was productive, as I was able to schedule a school near Raleigh for December.
Losing your Time in the Transition
I’ve made a number of posts about how we can work more efficiently and make better use of our time. This is not just so we can get more done; I actually focus a lot on being sure to know and get what you want out of life. You can find those posts in the “Working Smart” category.
Today, I’m interested in a topic which I don’t think gets enough attention in regard to time-management: Transition Time. I’ve discovered that, even if I have my day perfectly scheduled, I tend to get off that schedule pretty easily, and it usually happens during the transition from one activity to another. I don’t know if it’s a passive-aggressive rebellion against my own choice to schedule my life a little or just plain indecisiveness, but I spend way too long in transition. Example: Today, I wanted to go right from calling schools to mailing an important document. For whatever reason, the transition time between the two was obnoxiously long, and I found myself way off track.
In the interest of saving your time and mine (;-)), I have provided a list of reasons for the “lost in transition” problem with solutions.
6 Reasons why We Waste Time in Transition and how to Stop
1. General lack of planning: We haven’t planned well enough to know what to do next.
Solution: Take 5-15 minutes at the start of your day to actually plan your day. I know, it’s painful, but it will make everything else so much easier.
2. Basking: We just accomplished something cool that we keep wanting to go back to, rather than moving on to the next thing in our list (like writing a great blogpost!)
Solution: Stop being so egotistical! Learn to appreciate your work, but don’t get hung-up on it.
3. Over Communication: We check email too often, text too much, and generally turn communication into a distraction.
Solution: Simple: Only check email at a predetermined couple times each day, and turn off your phone when you actually want to do real work. The world will not end while it’s off, or at least it hasn’t for me!
4. Fragmenting the Day: We create schedules that break our days up into too many quick tasks.
Solution: Learn the power of “batching,” and group tasks that are similar or nearly the same together, so you can avoid the transition all together. Plus: You can avoid repeated setup and preparation time for the same tasks by doing this.
5. Not Prioritizing: We fail to distinguish between important tasks and dribble.
Solution: Recognize that you CAN’T do everything you’re “supposed” to do. Remember when I talked about the 80/20 rule? 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts, and 80% of your problems come from 20% of the commitments in your life. Of course the real challenge is in discovering and turning up the the good 20% and turning off the bad 20%. But, as long as you vigilantly keep this in mind, you’ll do a lot better than most. Just don’t try to be too efficient!
6. Imbalance: We don’t balance the work, social, physical, and psychological aspects of our lives. Without balance, we find it difficult to stay motivated, especially during transition times!
Solution: Don’t make your life all work or all play, force yourself to be social, create healthy variety in your life, and don’t neglect your own physical health.
Honestly, most of this is practical advice that we should and perhaps do know, but that doesn’t mean we actually follow it. It’s just so hard to make our lives easier by following the free advice all around us! It feels easier to mindlessly work harder. I know – I’m guilty of it all the time.
[…] achieve in a full 8 hour day. We spend so much time in transition and distraction (read about that here), that we never actually get to most of the simple things we needed to […]