Grace Beverly believes that working hard and hardly working are two different sides of the same productivity coin. Studying in Oxford University and throughout her career she realized that one of the biggest challenges people have is balancing work and time out in a way that works for them.
The truth is all of us need money but we also want careers that challenge us. To that end Beverly has a number of tips from her book Working Hard, Hardly Working.
The Eisenhower method of time management is a prioritization plan that helps work out what is urgent and important and the order in which things need to be worked on. The idea is to divide tasks into categories such as urgent; important; delegate and don’t do.
Save dates in your diary
The next step is to put each task from the list into your calendar and “time block” it according to how long you need. You can then plan tasks or meetings around this. This helps you sort out administrative tasks easily too.
Change your to-do list to a to-do table
All tasks are not created equal and therefore a table format is better than a list. Divide it into three columns; Quick Ticks (things that take 5 mins or less), Tasks; (which can go up to 30 mins) and Projects (the Herculean ones that need more time). Also include things that won’t get done in a day but need to be monitored.
Get into ‘deep work’
Deep work is about reclaiming concentration and committing to work without the constant distraction and the ping of notifications. It’s like having an exam in school.
This one seems contradictory to all of the above but it isn’t actually. Scheduling a time for doing nothing actually prevents burnout from doing too much. It should be a planned exercise for our lives. So a ‘planned’ nothing could be anything from keeping two week nights free to taking a whole day off on the weekend to do nothing.
Figure out what makes you feel good
Cancel a plan, make a plan, give yourself a treat anything that helps you feel better that isn’t destructive is a good thing.
Make sure you don’t over do a good thing
Once you know what’s good for you and how to relax when you need don’t get complacent. Make boundaries which can be time-related, space related or task-related. Make specific areas in your home for where you work, where you sleep and whether or not you can or want to work on a weekend. For example you could decide to work some Saturdays but never on a Sunday.
Watch out for self sabotage
Most of the time we can feel ourselves doing this, we know we would feel a lot better if we go for a run or get some fresh air and yet we do nothing. Sometimes we have to push ourselves a little bit to feel better in the longer term. If you force yourself to do something and it doesn’t feel good both in the medium and long term then you know you were right.