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Reactions to staying focused: effective time-management

In my last post, I explored the boundaries of conflict and avoidance associated with time-management. I identified the continual pull between avoidance, shame and anxiety that continues to plague thinking whilst attempting to complete a task. In the current essay, I will explore a few issues associated with “effective time-management” issues and strategies. First, I will start with the challenges to maintaining an effective time-management. Second, I will briefly discuss some core principles associated with overcoming these challenges. Finally, I will offer some further techniques to enhance effective time-management.

Challenges to engaging in effective time-management:

There are other challenges that can impede a person from engaging in meaningful time-management. Below, I identify some behavioural and psychological challenges to time-management.  

  • Unscheduled engagement: Scheduling a task is just as important as completing the task. During periods of unscheduled tasks, the person is likely to procrastinate. As most people are familiar with the likes of procrastination, the task is rare completed with to the any reasonable standard. By scheduling both the tasks start time and the amount of time spent on the task, the person is absolved of the pressure of rushing or the need for procrastination.    

  • Lack of time-management: Most people do not actually consider identifying the opportune or appropriate time to start or complete a task.

  • Time-wasting: Should every moment of the day be filled with activity? Certainly not. However, when there is a great desire to get something done there is the continued push to waste time. What we mean by time wasting is very simple. Time wasting refers to the avoidance activity or the activity that prevents us completing an urgent/important task. In the case of time wasting, the person lingers their attention around unimportant and mundane activities.       

  • Emotional time tracking: Most people have, at one time or another said, “There is just not enough time in the day". First, what is emotional time tracking? Emotional time tracking occurs when the person estimates the amount of time available based on the feeling that time is escaping or fleeting. I use the term escaping or fleeting to highlight a significant phenomenon. Consider, for example, a day at a theme park. People are likely to state, “time just flew by”, “time just escaped me”, or “where did the time go?”. On the other hand, the person at work will state the time dragging, time is moving too slow, or merely exclaim at time’s lack of progression.

    When a person emotionally tracks time, the actions of everyday life do not correspond to the literal progression of time. Like many debates and perspectives on qualitative versus quantitative measures, the dichotomy between emotional and actual time progression represent a two disenfranchised concepts. During the process of emotional time tracking, the person is not consciously aware of the actual pace of time. The person feels considers time in relation to the psychological and emotional event. The person feels that time has an unusual or distinct pace.

Overcoming the odds: resolving the challenges to effective time-management:  

How does one over-come the problem concerning time-management and begin engaging in effective time-management? Prior to beginning this discussion, we should consider some of the basic culprits in the fight against effective time-management.

  • Social media: There is no denying that the technological era is upon us. As I write this article I cannot help but to notice that I have a computer and a mobile phone. On the mobile I have Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Gmail, Professional e-mail, and other business apps pinging with notifications. Today the Telegraph released a report claiming that young adults (between ages 16 to 24) spend an average of 27 hours per week on social media. While most adults spend an average of 20 hours per week online. Due to the mobile revolution, people average two to three hours per week of internet usage whilst on the move. These revelations introduce an important issue. With the proliferation of mobile and internet usage, the here-and-now has also been transformed into an interconnected hodgepodge of notifications and continued pulls elsewhere and otherwise.

  • Destructive thinking: In many cases, you are your worse enemy. It is our destructive thoughts that discourage further progression. The continued self-doubt, punishment and negativity. The solution is not as most people suggest when they say, “just get up and do it”. If this was possible the person would. The approach involves targeting the thoughts and resistances that prohibit the engaged action. I used the term resistance to indicate those negative or self-adversarial behaviour patterns developed over time. Addressing your negative thoughts is the first step. As highlighted in the previous essay on avoidance, these thoughts will become ubiquitous. It does not matter what course of action the person decides, both options will produce the negative effects. The reason involves the person and the adopted pattern of thinking, not the options in themselves.

  • Psychological resistance: American Psychoanalyst, Hyman Spotnitz, defined resistance as anything that prevents the person from engaging in progressive therapeutic action. In reference to time-management, psychological resistance refers to that which prevents one from completing or engaging in committed action on a task. The resistance takes the form of external factors, emotional avoidance/pressures, other people or socio-cultural standards. Resistances are also troublesome. The resistance develops a behavioural pattern that conforms to the rule of avoidance. It is our mental way of keeping to those patterns that further perpetuate negative behaviours. The reason some people cannot engage in effective activity involves the patterns and habits developed that enable further avoidance.

  • “Time is money”: This old adage is shockingly true. However, I want to amend this concept to be more action-oriented: “Time is like money”. Everyone has a finite about of energy and effort to commit to a range of tasks. By dividing that energy and time appropriately, time-management proves to be less stressful. Imagine having £100 to spend for the week. Some of the money will be spent on rent, food, necessities etc. If there is a surplus, the money may be spent on something for yourself. Now, imagine you have 100 units of energy. Budgeting energy is similar to budgeting money. Counting the necessities and distributing energy whilst maintaining some for yourself is gravely important.           

Combatting or challenging these issues involves the analysis of certain resistances, negative thoughts, and those actions that work contrary to your conditioned inclination to give-up, procrastinate, and self-destructive behaviour. I once heard a saying that made a great impact on my way of thinking. The statement followed, “Getting started is easy, continuing and consistency is the hard part”. Certainly, sometimes getting started is a challenge. As many may know, getting started can mean the first of many failed attempts.

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