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How to Better Manage Your Time and be More Productive

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I came across this awesome article highlighting a few principles and tips in Josh Kaufman’s “The Personal MBA”

These principles and tips are taken from a chapter of the book titled “Working with Yourself.”

  • Monoidealism. The word might sound complex, even spiritual, but monoidealism is neither. Josh Kaufman, the author, defines it as “the state of focusing your energy and attention on only one thing, without conflicts.” You know when you are “in the zone” and totally focused on something you are doing and not distracted or interrupted? That is monoidealism. And that is our goal.
  • Cognitive Switching Penalty. You think you are multitasking, but you are really not. When you are doing Task A and Task B “at the same time,” you are really just switching between the two. While you focus on A, you ignore the B (even if it is just for a moment), until you switch back to B and ignore A. As a result, we get a “cognitive switching penalty” when we force our brains to constantly switch between tasks. And all we get at the end is a lot of energy wasted and very little accomplished. Multitasking is the antithesis of monoidealism.
  • Parkinson’s Law. Cyril Parkinson said that “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” You have probably seen this principle work in your own life – and not necessarily in a beneficial way. Now, things like work and projects do take time, but how much time is really necessary is the question in hand. Set a deadline and give yourself the appropriate amount of time needed to finish a task. Do not give yourself a week to do something that takes one day, or else…”work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
  • Pomodoro Technique. This “technique” is really simple. Set a kitchen timer, or any sort of timer, for twenty-five minutes. During this twenty-five minutes, you are only going to focus on the task at hand and nothing else. After the twenty-five minutes is over, take a five minute break. I have put this technique to the test in my studying and it has certainly made me more productive. It is not hard to focus for twenty-five minutes when you trick your mind into thinking “it’s just twenty-five minutes.” Try it out.
  • Most Important Tasks (MITs). Some tasks are more important than others. Create a list and identify the tasks that are most important and will make the biggest impact and do those first.
  • Four Methods of Completion. There are four ways we can approach a task. We can complete the task. This is usually for important things we do well. We can also delete an unimportant or unnecessary task and simply not do it. Thirdly, we can delegate a task and have someone else do it for us. And finally, we can defer tasks that do not need to be completed right away (not the same as procrastination).

Let’s end with a final tip and a quote from Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of IKEA: “If you split your day into ten-minute increments, and you try to waste as few of those ten-minute increments as possible, you’ll be amazed at what you can get done.”


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