Lurking all around you at school, and everywhere in between, there are tasks, situations, technology, humans (and other mammals) who can potentially steal your time. Be on the lookout for the time thieves that are ready to rob you if you let your guard down.
1. Email - Ouch! There is a reason this one is first. You know it has happened to you. You start to check your email (with the idea that it will take a few minutes) and the next thing you know, an hour or more has passed. Working with school policies, determine the best time(s) of day to check for important message. Time thief!
2. Telephone - This happens whether you are the one making the phone call or answering the phone. It's as if you go into a time warp when you are on the phone. When you finally hang up and glance at the clock, 30 minutes (or more) have elapsed. You think, 'What happened here?'
3. Drop-in visitors - Generally, these time thieves are not wearing masks (although maybe if they did, you would be more alarmed when you saw them). There you are in your office, classroom, or home, working away on a key project that needs your attention. Oh no! It's a drop-in visitor. If the person sits down (uninvited or invited), you know you are in trouble. Next, 10, 15, 45 minutes or more can go by and you have now completely lost track of the momentum you had built up on your project.
4. Procrastination - You have seen it and experienced it if you're a normal human being. You shuffle papers around on your desk rather than actually doing the tasks associated with any of them, you defrost the freezer when you need to finish your dissertation (and it is the third defrosting of the week), or you clean your garage when you actually need to get your taxes done. Procrastination robs you of time (and self respect).
5. Self-distraction - Admit it. You look up every time anyone walks past your door. You have the sound turned up on your email notification. You open a drawer to get out a pencil and decide that you should re-organize the drawer so that it is neat and tidy. You jump up to get a cup of coffee just when it's time to dive into a key task or project (and then visit with a few people along the way).
6. Filing systems (that aren't) - You have heard it before. Piling is not filing. So if you have a filing arrangement that doesn't work, it's stealing your time. If you have to hunt through a stack to find something or if you have to spend time rooting around in your file cabinet for something that might or might not be filed....or if you have to get others involved in the quest to discover a misfiled item, then you've let your time and productivity be stolen.
7. Slow or inefficient reading - The average American adult reads between 200 - 250 words per minute. This is very s l o w reading. At this pace, it is a struggle to complete a few pages, let alone entire books. Unless you learn to increase your reading rate (as well as improve your comprehension and retention) you are being robbed not only of time, but of the knowledge, entertainment, and value that you can gain through effective and efficient reading. A book worth reading to improve your reading efficiency is titled 10 Days to Faster Reading by Abby Marks-Beale.
8. Junk mail - Junk mail, of course, arrives digitally and physically. Either way, it can rob you of your time. You know the difference between mail that is personal and valuable--and that which is junk. Sort quickly (and preferably, sort your physical mail right next to a recycling bin before you ever take the mail to your office). You can regain valuable minutes everyday this way.
Time is your most precious resource, so it's imperative to guard against the time thieves listed above (as well as others you might notice). Become aware of what might be stealing your time.
Time thieves are part of modern life (sad but true ). You have the power to prevent this pilfering of your productivity. Join others around the world who increase their peaceful, predictable productivity by receiving Meggin's weekly emails:
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(c) 2008 by Meggin McIntosh, Ph.D., "The Ph.D. of Productivity"(tm). Through her company, Emphasis on Excellence, Inc., Meggin McIntosh changes what people know, feel, dream, and do. via seminars, workshops, writing, coaching, and consulting.