Everyone used to complain that there wasn’t enough time in a day. Now people just can’t seem to manage time due to their schedules being completely different.
It’s not that we are lazy most of the time it’s just that being a manager of your day to day allotted hours is harder than you could have imagined. Especially if you are working from home!
You’ll find that the hardest workers are not always the best managers of time. Following effective time management strategies involves incorporating tactics into your daily, weekly, and monthly routine that optimize the available hours of the day.
We’ll cover some of the most effective ways to boost productivity through some of these efficient time management methods.
● Planing out each day
● Prioritizing your daily, weekly, & monthly tasks
● Using time management tools
● Not multitasking
● Determining your productive times
● Removing distractions
● Using a Timer
● Splitting larger tasks and projects into more manageable pieces
● Learning to say no to things more often
时间管理（shíjiān guǎnlǐ）：time management
时间(shíjiān) : time
管理(guǎnlǐ) : management
chénggōng de mìjué zhī yī shì néng zuò hǎo shíjiān guǎnlǐ.
One of the secrets of success is good time management.
zuò hǎo shíjiān guǎnlǐ duì wǒmen hěn zhòngyào.
Time management is very important to us.
This concept originally came from the book Deep Work, written by a university professor named Carl Newport.
The Power Hour technique is when you spend the first hour of your day performing the most difficult task, and during this hour you eliminate all distractions and you are just focusing on that one task. This means no multitasking!
（1）It helps prevent “拖延 (tuōyán) procrastination“.
（2）It also helps you feel a sense of progress early on in the day, which will set you up for a more productive day.
拖延 (tuōyán): n. procrastination; v. delay
tā xià juéxīn bù zài tuōyán.
She made up her mind not to delay.
tuōyán shì yī zhǒng hěn bù hǎo de xíguàn.
Procrastination is a bad habit.
If you have a habit of procrastinating, as I do, research suggests that you might not be lazy after all. Studies have suggested that some perfectionists wait until the last minute to complete a task due to the anxiety-inducing thoughts that the project is not good enough and that with a bit more time to think about it, it could be better.
This is a common occurrence with Type A personalities and other perfectionist types who may have been raised by parents with very high standards or are overly competitive with themselves.
I know for a fact that finishing a painting takes me much longer than my peers because there are so many alternative ways that it could be completed. One stroke could make it more interesting, or one color change could truly make the difference in how it is perceived.
Therefore I had to realize that one of the most difficult things to accept is the fact that I’m not perfect and my art won’t be either. Even if we take every precaution and plan for every possible scenario, there’s no chance of it being a certain way.
Unfortunately, anyone with this mindset will run into a serious reality check at one point or another. This causes “拖延 (tuōyán) procrastination” and we must accept our abilities and have faith in our talents.
Take a moment right now to realize it’s okay to make mistakes and be imperfect. Keep this mind as you strive to improve your time management skills, understanding that even the most thought out plans can change, have unexpected results, or even fail. These reminders will open doors for you to improve when these times come, instead of feeling defeated by them.
Aside from being able to plan your “Power Hour” is having the ability to view your week at a glance which provides you with a myriad of benefits.
This includes the benefit of planning for the upcoming day and week as it offers you the freedom to arrange new events very easily as it keeps you accountable for things you have to do and it allows you to prioritize your tasks.
When using a calendar to prioritize and organize tasks I have found it useful to color-code items. For example, when it comes to bills that need to be paid I have them highlighted in green whereas birthdays are yellow.
Consider using a joint calendar on google or another shared platform in which family members, friends, or coworkers can add tasks, reminders, or events that are coming up so that collaborating will be much easier.
安排 (ānpái)：v. arrange
wǒmen yào hélǐ ānpái shíjiān.
We have to arrange our time reasonably.
wǒ yǐjīng wèi nǐ ānpái hǎo xíngchéngle.
I have arranged an itinerary for you.
Using the Urgent vs. Important Scale
A book called 7 Habits of Highly Effective People speaks of an important factor for effective time management which is deciding where a task lies on the Urgent vs. Important Scale. So essentially, you have to create a diagram like the one below.
Every activity you do throughout the day can be placed in one of the four quadrants and the goal is to stay in the top right quadrant of important but not urgent.
This promotes proactive behavior so that you stay on top of things and are minimally stressed.
紧急 (jǐnjí): urgent
wǒ jiē dàole yī xiàng jǐnjí rènwù.
I received an urgent task.
zhè jiàn shìqíng hěn jǐnjí, yīkè yě bùnéng dānwù.
This matter is very urgent and cannot be delayed for a moment.
“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” So when you create a seemingly flawless schedule and then all of a sudden you’re interrupted with a problem that needs to be dealt with immediately, it completely throws off your schedule.
This doesn’t even have to be a work-related problem, this could be a personal one or a small emergency, but the point is, life happens and you can’t necessarily control it.
So when we are delegating our time for the day, we should always include a factor of safety to account for problems, distractions, and errors in our judgment.
We don’t need to fill the schedule, and we can arrange more time to complete the particularly urgent matters. This will not only allow you to maintain your schedule but also reduce your “压力(yālì) stress”. And it gives you a sense of calmness about your day and tasks.
wǒmen yào miàn duì gè zhǒng gè yàng de yālì.
We have to face all kinds of stress.
wǒmen yào xuéhuì shìfàng yālì.
We have to learn to release the pressure.
Efficient work does not mean continuous work. Most of us know that people need “休息 (xiūxí) breaks”, but few people know about the concept of “green breaks”. One Harvard study explains that being around greenery will boost your performance and decision-making.
Another study found that exposure to office plants boosted not only the employee’s well-being but also improved productivity by 15%.
After reading this article, I strongly urge you to arrange green plants for me and of course, yourself!
休息(xiūxi): break/ rest
wǒ xiǎng xiūxi yīxià.
I want to have a break.
nǐ dōu bùyòng xiūxi de ma?
Don’t you need to rest?
The thought of changing all of these things about yourself right away can feel daunting and almost impossible. But what if you simply chose three of the strategies mentioned above and integrated them into your routine?
Do you think it would make a difference? I do.
I started by reviewing my priorities and removing some of the pesky distractions that were impeding my productivity. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how much of a difference changes such as these can make in your overall day, week, month, and year. Which things do you plan on changing?
Which of the following is not a method of “时间管理 (shíjiān guǎnlǐ) ”
A. Look at the green plants during the break.
B. Prioritize events
C. Schedule very full
D. Spending the first hour of your day performing the most difficult task.
Please submit your answers in the comment section.
About the Author:
Jennifer Zhu is a professional Chinese teacher with over 10 years of teaching experience with eChineseLearning.com, if you have any questions about Chinese learning , you can add WeChat: jenniferzhu6, or scan the QR code below. She will also add you to a WeChat group where you can practice your Chinese for free, if you want.
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