Nobody works well under pressure

Working under pressure is last minute time management

We have all met someone who proudly declared they work well under pressure. The sort of people who boldly put it on their CV and expect to be rewarded for it. They are most likely the sort of people who annoy colleagues to no end by submitting work five minutes to the deadline and expect to be given a round of applause for it. You may have convinced yourself being able to work under pressure is a skill. Perhaps you also believe you possess that skill. Let me burst your bubble. It is not.

A man in a suit struggling to meet a deadline
You under pressure keeping people waiting

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What do you do with your downtime?

A clockface

Do you have some downtime this week? I’m sure if you thought more careful about how you spend your days, you could probably find 30 minutes on most days when you are not really doing anything. Do you have any unfinished tasks on your to-do list from last week? It could be an annoying task you have been putting off for a few days such as dropping off your laundry or rearranging the books on your shelf. What if you chipped away at those catch up tasks for 30 minutes each day during your downtime?

A person sleepy in front of a laptop
A lot of downtime is spent on idle browsing

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Don’t fall for the inspiration fallacy

A lightbulb in the rain

We have all heard about it. Something like the strike of thunder or a bird landing on your shoulders. The brain sees hidden patterns where none existed before. Words come to mind unbidden. You are seized with a violent work ethic and produce a great masterpiece in 24 hours. Some call it inspiration. Many wait for their muse to be the guide that will let them set words to paper. Let me provide some free advice: If you are still waiting for inspiration before you get started, there is a word for what you are doing. It’s called Procrastination.

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”

– Stephen King

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Meetings are where ideas go to die

A conference hall set for a meeting

I dislike meetings. Especially those that go on for two hours and the only task you have to do at that meeting is listen. Many meetings can drag on way too long and go beyond schedule. Despite this, a lot of people seem to like meetings because they create the illusion of one having been productive. They are supposed to be places where ideas get discussed. When they run too long, however, most people start checking their phones under the table (if they can get away with it) or even fall asleep.

Meetings are inevitable for some people. If you are one of those people, you have my sympathies. However, there are some policies you can get your organisation to adopt that can make your meetings more productive.

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Deal with time wasters before they deal with you

A clockface descending into an endless spiral

To become a productive person, you must learn to focus on the tasks that add the most value to your life. You need to devote your time and energy to the tasks that yield the highest returns towards achieving your goals. To achieve this, you need to work on identifying your time wasters. Time wasters are those seemingly little unscheduled interruptions during the day that shift your focus away from your most important tasks.

Scrabble pieces spelling "Time out thanks"
Devote time to work on important tasks

Humans are social creatures who like to interact, catch up on the latest gossip and chat. It is no surprise then that most of our identified time wasters tend to revolve around social interactions such as phone calls, chatting and unannounced visitors. No one wants to seem rude but if you stop working every five minutes to answer a phone call or respond to your friend’s message, you won’t be getting as much done. You don’t need to cut people out of your life entirely. That would be a very lonely life indeed. What you should so is use a few simple tricks to stop you getting interrupted during important tasks.

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