zenhabits : breathe

Mastering Productivity: How to Be More Effective With Your Time


Photo by harvest_japan*

This is a guest post by Lodewijk van den Broek of How to be an Original and is part of the Mastering Productivity series.

Time is a special resource. A lot of people say it is a scarce resource, but most people don’t recognize this. The fact that most of us have many years ahead of us, doesn’t give the feeling of scarcity now does it?

But time is special in a sense that it can not be recaptured once it has passed. If it has passed it is gone, and our unknown remaining supply will only reduce further. So we better make good use of our time and make it as productive as can be. But what is productive time? Productivity is effectiveness and efficiency combined, so let’s dive into those aspects.

Effective time: doing what you want to be doing
Like I say in the first part of the series, effectiveness is first. Knowing what you want to experience in this life and knowing what to do in this life are what defines whether you spend your time effectively. Most of the time management systems mention this a couple of times, but they don’t focus on it. But in my perspective this aspect is essential when it comes down to real fulfillment of the way you spend your time.

The Eisenhower Matrix takes a step towards identifying the important from the non-important stuff. You define what is important and what is not, based on what is important to you. Knowing what your personal values are, knowing your mission statement or mantra, having goals and acting upon them are all aspects of identifying and translating what matters to you most into daily activities.

It is beyond this article to go into every aspect. On my blog I focus on this aspect and provide ways of identifying what matters to you. In my opinion knowing who you are and what you want are the most important aspects of productivity. They provide the background against which you can start with simplifying your life aligned with what you want.

Efficient time: do things the easy way
One of my guidelines is: Simple is always better than complex. There are a lot of ways to do things more efficiently and most of them fall into one of these categories:

  1. Do things only once
    One of the things our brain does is re-remember things that haven’t been done yet and have/could/should be done. This is a waste of time. Use methods like GTD to overcome this behavior.
  2. Do things smarter
    Almost every single task has been done by someone countless times before. A lot of people are looking to do things easier, faster and better in less time. Look around on the internet (and certainly around Zen Habits) and you’ll find smarter ways of doing what you need to be doing.
  3. Automate things
    Using software to do tasks for you is the common idea when we think about automation. But integrating efficient behavior in everyday habits is also a way of automating things. You could call it analog automation, as we are automating behavior that helps us do things more efficiently.
  4. Outsource things
    If you don’t want to do things, but they need to be done anyway, why not outsource them? There are people out there that do want to be doing that, and are enthusiastic about the previous three steps, so they do what needs to be done faster and better. So you can spend your time doing things that you do want to do and end up with often better results for what you don’t want to be doing (but what needs to be done anyway).

Productive time: doing easily what you want to do
So if we combine effectiveness and efficiency, we get productivity. Doing the things we want to be doing as easily as possible. It starts with knowing who you are and what you want and along the way we improve the way we do things. Full speed ahead to achieving what you want by using your time as productive as possible!

Read the other articles of the series:



Join a million+ breath-taking readers: rss | email | twitter | +