3 Ways Short Deadlines Help You Do More

Italiano: Autore: Francesco Cirillo rilasciata...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The problem with time management is that humans are, in genera, fairly bad at judging time and how long things take. For example, five minutes seems like a short amount of time, but try holding a heavy box for five minutes and it’ll seem like an eternity.

So when we say we’re going to work on a project for an hour, we’re often setting ourselves up to fail. That’s why I believe splitting up your task into manageable chunks is actually the fastest way to get it done.

As a TV producer I’ve had years of practice so I know what 45 seconds vs. two minutes and 45 seconds feels like.  It takes a while to get the feel just right.  But when you do — it can be an amazing productivity tool.

Here’s some easy ways to break tasks into bite-sized pieces:

1.  Splitting Up Your Time – I like to suggest the app Pomodoro, a time-management technique turned app to force you to work for short sprints. The idea behind Pomodoro (which means tomato in Italian) is that you have 25 minutes to work on a certain task.  Focused only on that task.  You are supposed to stop the clock if you drift.

It’s a good way to train yourself to learn what 25 minutes of working feels like.  Then you can take a short break (5 minutes) or a long break (15 minutes.) This keeps you on task, but allows you to refresh your mind.

2.  Challenge Yourself –– Sometimes I’ll pick shorter amounts of time to get stuff done just to see if I can do it.  For instance — when I’ve got tons of emails to write back to.  I look at the clock and tell myself I’ve got 12 minutes to write back to as many people as possible in that time.  Ready….go!  It’s amazing how much you can actually get done if you just push yourself. The truth is – none of those emails really take that long to respond to — I was just procrastinating. Give yourself a little nudge and see if it works.

3.  Give Yourself a Reward – If the task your working on is particularly long or arduous it’s important to give yourself something to work towards. Use your breaks to do something fun like listening to your favorite song – or maybe just relax and make a cup of tea. (You know how I love my tea!) Making the most of your breaks is the best way to stay motivated.

I talk about this concept in more detail with my friend Terri Trespicio on her web show Soloprenur. You can watch it here.

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