Blog - the bodhi
3 Time Management Techniques for Increased Efficiency

  • 1. Defrag your Schedule – Given the same amounts of work time and free time, you can maximise both your productivity in your on-time and your recreational fulfillment in your off-time by preventing the fragmentation and compartmentalization of your time. In simple words, it means that if your free time intersperses segments of work, you would not be able to enjoy your free time nor get much work done in each of those small segments. It does not necessarily mean that one should finish work in as few seating’s as possible or not take breaks at all. But it assumes (founded on practical observation) that there’s a certain inertia and threshold to overcome, each time we start work, and work cannot simply effectively be divided into equally convenient units. Since it takes fresh emotional (enthusiastic), energetic, and time investment to begin each new seating of work (overcoming distractions and procrastination tendencies) and since a work often needs to be begun afresh if not enough of it (as say, one whole sub-task) has been completed, it is better to take bigger breaks and bigger work shifts than smaller alternating sessions, such as the size of these spells exceed most thresholds. This would optimise relaxation and accomplishment and reduce exhaustion. One would be able to get most of their recreation time as well as get things done.

    The same applies to refreshment, enjoyment and emotional fulfillment. Having a brief break, where you know you’re on a short time-fuse takes away your peace of mind and being occupied with the thought of impending work, one is unable to relish anything or partake in any meaningful recreational activity. The lack of immersiveness, order, and systematisation takes away the indulgence. Hence, instead of peppering work sessions with haphazard, disruptive, tiny breaks that break up your schedule into useless tatters, it is better to take a significantly long break for a sustainable, fuller refreshment experience.

    2. Fragment your task – We have all found ourselves falling prey to this tendency despite being aware and cognizant of it, even when we are actively trying to resist it: We tend to finish the smallest, easiest, most trivial tasks first and save the largest and/or most difficult tasks for the later, usually coinciding with a reverse priority order. Our brain is daunted by deadlines enough to become anxious and lower its productivity looking for escapisms and temporary emotional reprieves and respites to overcome its incapacitating incarceration but not enough for a fight response to kick in. The flee response dominates followed by the freeze response (or at times, vice-versa), in turn followed by the fight response but only when it’s too late. Somehow, the sense of urgency prompts us to seek emotional relief by partaking in recreation or creating a false sense of achievement and activating reward centres by performing the smaller, easier, less-pressing tasks that don’t have the dread and self-stigma associated with them given their lack of urgency, significance, and consequentiality, but not to get ourselves in the adrenaline-fuelled hustle mode. The best way to overcome this fatal combination of a lack of instant gratification and presence of an imposing, impending, looming monolith of work is to break down the climb into small hikes and trips, installing basecamps throughout the course route. By breaking the circuit into checkpoints, we provide the brain with a much-needed sense of accomplishment. The overall task is split-up into a number of well-defined, semi-autonomous and largely self-contained smaller sub-tasks. These must be significantly independent (stand alone) and distinct from each other. Thus, each step in the climb serves as an achievement providing the requisite emotional stimulus that triggers the reward centres, making us feel fuzzy and motivated to carry the momentum forth. This sends us aboard a sustained train of small achievements, each serving as its own investment, feeding back into the next one, and eventually hauling the entire dragon of the task through.

    An example would be to break down the revision of your textbook into a series of completions of subtopics, topics, and chapters. Such high to low level organisation takes away from the sense of dauntingness of how much of the mountain is left to scale and focus on how much is already covered. It takes energy to evaluate once choices, so fragmentation turns the demotivation and drain of looking at the bigger picture into the motivation of keeping going by looking at the small ascents you have made between distinct regions of the mountain, to use an adventure analogy. Contrary to scaling the foothold-less monolithic edifice of a single whole, with this discretisation, one only needs to hold their attention for the small time (usually a few to a few ten minutes) required to complete the first subtask, and once this has been done, its reward mechanism encourage us to seek more such rewards, impelling us to get through the next subtask. Each subsequent distinctly-recognisable unit of achievement imbues us with positive energy upon completion, and the chain reaction, an engine driven by a series of combustions. keeps propelling us forward towards our destination of ultimate completion.

    3. Doing one thing at a time – As discussed earlier, it takes a significant amount of energy to immerse oneself in work with each session, providing the motivation for minimising the number of sessions wheresoever possible (and permitted by other factors). A similar expenditure is incurred when transitioning from one task to another. Multitasking always seems like a tempting option as it helps get rid of boredom and monotony of work without having to take a break. Nonetheless, unless the tasks are conveniently suited to be multitasked, multitasking near invariably serves as an attention divider and focus disruptor. Having to disengage each time from one task to do the other may seem fun but it tears your processing off, and instead of boosting one’s work efficiency, it ends up weighing it down. Multitasking confines one in the easier 80%, giving one an illusion that most is accomplished and lulling them into a false sense of surety, whereas the last 20% which demands commitment and perfection and typically takes just as much time as the lower 80% remains elusively out of reach. Seeing one task to completion before moving on to the other is the key to achievement. Not doing so can potentially leave one stranded with 0% actual accomplishment after 80% of the time because one couldn’t clear even the completion threshold of even one of the five or so tasks they began whereas a rival spent just enough time and effort in a directed, channelised manner, having tangible results of having complete one whole task to show (both to the supervisor as well as to motivate ownself), at the end of the day. Let’s face it, we are not computers, machines with parallel processing capabilities and distinct flexible adaptable and dedicatable cores, able to disengage, rengage, and switch between tasks effortlessly in the blink of an eye. Even computers are overheated and drained by excessive multitasking, despite being indefatigable, naturally-infallible machines. Our cognitive functioning is integral and dividing our attention seldom helps. This doesn’t mean that one has to commit themselves to monotony and that work is predisposed to be boring. One can and often should alternate projects and tasks, just not mix them at the granular or even subtask level. For example, one can finish an assignment, then cook a meal, then watch an episode of their favourite TV Series, before moving on to work on and complete their next assignment. However, trying to finish the assignment while overseeing a boiling pot and a TV blazing in the background is doomed to failure, bound to end in absolute nonfulfilment and frustration. Micro-multitasking is akin to competing in a decathlon and switching between the tracks of various component events simultaneously, lap after lap, ending up losing all of them. Focussing one’s faculties and collimating one’s endeavours on a single task at a time leads to perfection and fulfillment.
  • July 10, 2021  by biofie content team
  • Written by biofie content team
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