One Step At A Time

Ever wonder how some people seem to accomplish everything they set out to do yet you feel like you never get ANYTHING done!? I feel that way more often than I’d like to admit. But when I DO finish a goal, I remind myself how it was possible, and that’s actually quite simple…

I started!

That old saying that the best way to eat an elephant is just one bite at a time? Yea, easier said than done, isn’t it? But I’ve found the best way to finish a project, is first to start it by writing down incremental goals (with timelines), and then using shorts blocks time (scheduled on my calendar) to do the work.

Lately I’ve been using the timer on my phone to work in 20 minute increments on various projects. When the timer ends (and the alarm sounds), I move on to another project – whether it’s answering emails, washing dishes, walking the dog, paying bills, or even writing a blog. The hardest part of this is moving on to another project if I haven’t yet finished the last one, but I force myself to do it in an effort to increase productivity and vary my routine. I can always dedicate another 20 minutes to that project later in the day or week.  Admittedly, it’s also hard not to get distracted during the 20-minute time frame. It means ignoring new text messages, phone calls or emails (just until the timer goes off) and turning off the television.

This is an improvised version of the Pomodoro Technique, which encourages breaking down workloads into intervals using a timer. That technique employs short breaks after each interval, but I prefer to save breaks for when I’ve completed at least four intervals. This makes me feel like I’ve accomplished more, and provides a little “reward” once an hour.

Using “Tiffany’s Timer Technique” (I just made that up!), I have found myself to be more focused and more productive. It takes a little planning upfront to decide on the most important tasks for each day, but it has definitely paid great dividends in helping me cross some tasks off my daily agenda.

What is your favorite time management tip? Have you tried the Pomodoro Technique or something similar?  Let me know what other methods you use to be productive!


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