Every once in a while, I get a bright idea about some sort of knowledge I can impart to help another human. Recently, I realized that my executive functioning skills are pretty righteous and the abilities that I previously thought of as a good capacity to compartmentalize my life are actually decent life management skills.
Executive functioning, you ask? To the WebMD! Basically, your frontal lobe is in charge of your productivity. Executive function is important to details, planning, time management, and switching focus from one project or idea to another.
Granted, there was a time in my life when I would have still considered myself focused, but space surfing was the type of plans in which I was interested.
And though riding a giant cat is a fun distraction, I have actually gained some life management tricks along the way. Take what you want or tell me I'm full of beans, here's a list-o-sorts for you.
For starters, morning is your friend, dude. It's peaceful and the world hasn't started happening yet. Don't get right on the electronics or turn on the TV. Take a couple of breaths. Once you're up, it's a great time to exercise or meditate. I'm worthless if I don't exercise. Completely worthless. I used to dread getting up and hit snooze constantly, now I like getting up for a run or the gym--my best ideas and my clarity comes when my body is moving. Also, morning is the best for getting big projects out of the way. There's nothing worse than waiting and waiting on a deadline, then being forced to do sub-par work at 11:30 pm. Too stressful.
Set appropriate goals. I know, the word "appropriate" makes you think of a third grader who isn't acting appropriately, but seriously, I'd like to be a doctor or win a million dollars. Those are goals, but not appropriate. I'm a pragmatic optimist; it's completely realistic for me to consider law school or an MBA based on my experience and academic background. It's realistic for me to set a savings goal based on a percentage of my income. It's much harder than winning a million dollars, but it's (slightly) more realistic. Make sure your goals have good targets and you know why you want to reach the goal.
And along with goals, prioritize. In the end, some of us like to be busy and some of us like to get sh*t done. Choose wisely.
Anyone ever done the exercise where you write down every cent you spend for a month? You really start to understand where money is wasted and how to be more efficient with your dollars. The same is true of time. In my first executive director job, I felt overwhelmed. A lot. I kept a time diary so I could see where I was wasting time and figure out how to work smarter instead of harder.
It's also important to find the systems that work best for you. I use my phone for my calendar so I get push reminders. I'd rather lose my car than my phone. Seriously. I have favorite apps like Nike Run Club, but limit the social apps to the ones I need for work. I also don't believe in sending all my email to my phone. Better keep a couple blocks of time to check email throughout the day. (COMPARTMENTALIZE LIKE A MO-FO!)
When you're in the thick of it at work, stand up and move every hour or so. A reasonably intelligent human being once told me, "Movement is medicine." It's true on many levels. In the case of time management, 10 minutes of movement will make the other 50 minutes of the hour more productive.
Lists are a personal favorite of mine. I LOVE crossing things off the list. The list may look a little scattered or not make sense to anyone else. I made of list of ideas for this blog and have been happily checking them off as I type.
And my favorite time management tool? Find your Yoda. Find the person to run your ideas past and help talk through your problems. Sometimes, you're too close to an issue to see things clearly, or maybe it's something you've never tackled and need a mentor's advice. Asking for help saves so much time in the long run.