Multiply Your Time » Mind Tools Blog

Multiply Your Time

January 19, 2015


Procrastinate-on-purpose_83x125As a self-employed journalist who has her fingers in a lot of pies, I never seem to have enough time, and maintaining focus can be tricky. Every morning, I write a new To Do list, often carrying over tasks from the day before.

There are emails to answer, phone calls to make, invoices to send, Book Insights to write, clients to speak to, and leads to follow up – not to mention the book I’m trying to write! It’s sometimes hard to know where to start or what to prioritize!

That’s why I really liked the message of “Procrastinate on Purpose” – and I found myself putting some of its tips to use straight away.

Author Rory Vaden says the secret of success is less about time management and more about self management. We need to understand and challenge the powerful emotions that compel us to put other people’s demands first, and neglect what matters most to us. And we need to focus on actions that’ll bring in more money and create more time in the long run, rather than on tasks that bring us short-term gain.

In this audio clip from our review of this book, we hear Vaden’s tips for using time more wisely, so that it feels “multiplied.”

Listen to the full Book Insight in the Mind Tools Club ¦ Install Flash Player.

I particularly like Vaden’s suggestions on grouping similar activities together and attacking them in one batch. After reading the book, I suddenly became a lot more aware of how much switching from one task to another – say, from writing an article to making a phone call – drains my energy, disturbs my focus, and wastes my time. And, I realized how I allow email to interrupt me throughout the day.

It makes perfect sense to assign specific times to read and respond to emails, say half an hour three times a day, rather than checking my inbox every few minutes. And the same goes for social media, of course. It’s all too easy to have a quick look at Facebook and then find myself clicking on an interesting video link or reading a long article. I’ve only just started batching my activities together, but, already, I feel like it’s going to help me focus and make me much more productive.

I also like what Vaden has to say about concentrating on the single most important task that’s critical to your future success and that’s going to yield the greatest results. Soon after reading “Procrastinate on Purpose,” I found myself noticing my behavior and asking myself whether the task I was doing was the best way to spend my time. Unsurprisingly, the answer was often “No!”

Now I ask myself: is the work I’m doing urgent and critical, or could I put it off until later in the day and focus on something that matters more to my long-term success?

This book got me thinking about how much my time is worth, too. Vaden suggests we calculate our hourly rate and use this to work out whether it’s worth paying someone else to do tasks that might take us a long time.

I’ve just designed a website for a new line of work and I really enjoyed creating it and felt proud I’d done it myself. Learning new things is challenging, but it can be fun and very satisfying. But, was that the best use of my time and my expertise, I wonder? Should I have focused on drumming up new business instead, and let someone else – an expert in web design – handle my site? It’s an interesting question, and one I’ll apply to my actions going forward.

Vaden also got me weighing up the difference between procrastination and patience. Procrastination is one of those buzz words with connotations. Many of us want rid of it, and we often chastise ourselves for putting off tasks. But it could be that waiting was the right thing to do, after all. It’s a really difficult call, I think, and it’s great to be reminded of the value of intentionally delaying an action.

I’d happily recommend “Procrastinate on Purpose” to CEOs, managers, team leaders, the self-employed, and parents. I’m sure it could help pretty much anyone to manage their time, so that they have more of it in the future in which to live happier, more fulfilling lives.

I’d love to hear what tasks you’d like to eliminate from your To Do list or delegate to someone else, so that you can focus on what’s truly important. Share your insights below.

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