Links To And Excerpts From Productivity And Time Management Articles From The New York Times

Here are links with excerpts to four excellent New York Times articles:

This Time-Management Trick Changed My Whole Relationship With Time. By Dean Kissick, June 23, 2020

A couple of years ago I was told a rumor about a notable artist who would break up everything she did, from making films in the day to running her studio in the afternoon to reading books in the evening, into intervals of 25 minutes, with five-minute breaks in between — 25 minutes on, five minutes off, over and over again. That’s how I first heard of the Pomodoro technique.

Before long I was trying it for myself, and now I start my first pomodoro as soon as my coffee’s ready in the morning.

A pomodoro, once started, must not be interrupted, otherwise it has to be abandoned. But in this stringency, there is relief: You are not allowed to extend a pomodoro, either. After a set of four 25-minute intervals are completed, you’re supposed to take a longer break of 15 to 30 minutes before continuing. Those are the basic rules of Pomodoro technique. It tells us when to start, and also when to stop; and now, more than ever, we have to be told when to stop.

Your Past Is Not Your Future: Overcoming Time Management Regret. By Elizabeth Grace Saunders. May 1, 2019

Time management regret is a jail cell with an open door. Your positive actions are what may grant you an opportunity to walk free.

[Because of chronic time wasting in your past] You may have been passed up for a promotion. You may have lost a job. You may have spent years in a Ph.D. program. You may have forfeited a marriage. You may have missed your kids’ grow up. You may have squandered your health. You may have misplaced your confidence.

It doesn’t matter. How do I know this? Because I’ve been a time management coach for the last 10 years, and I’ve seen clients come to me with all of these regrets — all caused by poor time management — and I’ve watched them break free. You are in jail of time mismanagement, but the only person keeping you there is yourself.

[But the past need not predict the future! Many people have changed and you can too.]

You’re imprisoned by this [time wasted regret] if you’re not willing to admit regret about your past yet. And when you do have the opportunity to make more balanced time choices now — you don’t take them.

To break the chains of being overly defensive about the way you’ve managed your time up to this point, some self-forgiveness is in order. Own and admit your past mistakes and then forgive yourself. This could sound like, “I forgive myself for not planning my time well and missing significant events in my children’s lives,” or “I forgive myself for not setting boundaries with work so my marriage and health suffered.”

Once you look honestly at your past reality, you can turn your attention to the present and make changes going forward.

How to Break Free

Try something. Anything. Don’t focus on whether the trying gets you great results, or even any results at all. Just be happy you did something: Open that project document you’ve been avoiding for weeks and read it for 15 minutes. You’ll be 15 minutes further along than you were before. Sometimes getting started means everything, and you never know, once that 15 minutes has passed, you may be engaged enough to spend another 15 minutes on it.

I strongly recommend trying the Pomodoro technique described in detail at This Time-Management Trick Changed My Whole Relationship With Time. By Dean Kissick, June 23, 2020.

Productivity Isn’t About Time Management. It’s About Attention Management. By Adam Grant, March 28, 2019.

As I reviewed this article, I didn’t find any insights that I thought I would find actionable. But everyone is different and it might help you.

It’s Time to Become a Time Realist. By Jolie Kerr
Oct. 8, 2018.

There are time realists and time optimists, according to Ms. Morgenstern. Time realists look at a task and break down the math of it. They’re conscious of how long things take, and they factor that in to their plans for the day.

Time optimists, by comparison, are just that: hopeful about things they would like to do. It leads to them to overstuff their days and become frustrated when their list of to-dos doesn’t get completed.

Be a time realist. Here’s how.

Don’t automatically say yes, no matter who is asking, according to Ms. Morgenstern. Even if it is your boss, think, “How I can fit that in?’”  [Will you have to put off another task or project in order to get the new task or project done. What’s most important.]

Ms. Morgenstern recommends looking ahead. She says that doing so allows you to see in advance if you planned your calendar for the next few days well, “sort of figuring out the puzzle,” in her words.

[Not sure if I see how I can apply this rule as I usually have a set number of projects I’m currently working on.]

Speaking of dreaded tasks! Here comes some good news for those of you who have 16,942 unread emails in your inbox: Ms. Morgenstern is a believer in declaring email bankruptcy.

She suggests sorting all unread emails by date, moving the most current ones to a separate folder and simply deleting the rest, sight unseen. “How far back you want to go — three days, three weeks, one month — depends on your job or your life. If it’s more than a month old, there’s nothing in there. It’s either going to come back, or it’s gone forever.”

Ms. Morgenstern takes a hard line when it comes to the proliferation of communication channels — email, text message, messaging on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, telephone calls — and the limits we need to place on them. She says that “time management is about managing your energy and brain power for peak performance, and so you have to impart control over all this chaos.”

To be efficient, Ms. Morgenstern advises adding work and personal obligations to the same calendar and integrating all your different planning systems into one.

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