Time Management Idea #1: Use Breaks To Do The Next Thing On To Do List

I was working on something and I felt like a break was in order. So to distract myself a bit, I turned on the tablet, and played a few rounds of “Bejeweled 2.” When I looked up at the clock, what was meant to be a short break had turned to be a 45-minute time waste.

Then it dawned on me, that I actually had other things to do that were high on my priority list, and just as much fun as a few rounds of unproductive games. One of them was actually writing on this blog.
Even more important was to evaluate my day, and to make plans for the next day. Even higher in urgency was collecting the stuff I need to pack for my business trip on Thursday.

Why on earth were those things didn’t cross my mind, and instead I was more ready to do something that didn’t help me to be productive?

For one, these things take time to practice into a habit. And it’s not just to start a new habit, but also to stop the old habit.

My old habit is to take a break from my work by doing something that I consider to be fun or entertaining. Nothing wrong with that. Everybody likes to distract one’s mind with something amusing. Hence the invention of amusement park and amusement center. These days, entertainment is just a TV remote click away. Or if you happen to be a technologically savvy person, it is just a tap on your tablet away.

A break or distraction from work doesn’t have to be something that is completely detached from your work. The most important thing is to rest your hard-worked faculty for a few minutes, by putting another one at work. Analysis work usually utilizes your left-brain intensively.

To get a break, simply switch gear to something that doesn’t take a lot of left hemisphere thinking. It may be having a cup of coffee, take a walk, having a social conversation, etc. Or if you are inclined to be the productive type, you can take the time to clean your desk a little bit, or quickly jot a few lines to capture ideas that you came across just this morning, or feed the goldfish.

One cardinal rule to always be kept in breaks to keep you from spending too much time on it is to be sure that you do something with a clear objective. Tidying up your desk in under 15 minutes gives you a clear goal to achieve. Working a Sudoku puzzle does not, because there is a possibility that a puzzle would take longer time to complete than what we originally planned.

Have a great and productive breaks today!

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