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You go to a leadership seminar and learn the most important, evergreen and eternal rule of time management on the first day — never start a day without making a plan. That evening after the seminar you decide to follow their advice. You buy a new journal and the very next morning you start making a plan.
A week passes by and you realize, apart from a few minor changes, nothing significant has happened in your work life.
You still work for same hours every day.
You still get stressed.
You still reach home late and make your wife angry.
You still sleep less.
You feel nothing majorly has changed in your work life even after religiously implementing the sacred rule of planning.
Well, here, I would first appreciate you for your efforts. Great job with planning each day. This new habit is going to serve you well. But, at the same time, I would also question the plan you made.
How did you plan your day?
Most of you may have taken a piece of paper and have written time on one side and tasks on the other. You may have even clearly mentioned the deadlines in bold letters. This is the first stage and let me break it to you that you have already committed the biggest mistake of time management.
You ignored the buffer time.
We all have strict deadlines. We all have a lot of work to plan in a short span of time. We also have something called susceptibility to stress. Yes, by squeezing in large chunks of work — one after another — in small slots of time, you make yourself vulnerable to stress. Let me explain.
Most of our plans are dense, which means that once a task is complete we are bound to start the next. And this goes on till we complete our work for the day. Though we take breaks, they are mostly taken after long periods of time. So these closely-packed timelines force our minds to remain occupied for long lengths of time at one rigorous stretch.
What we need to remember here is this:
So, the next time you get down to planning, introduce micro-breaks. These are small 2 to 5 minute breaks that allow our mind some breathing space. This is apart from the longer breaks we take usually. These micro-breaks acts as ‘de-stressers’ and eliminate every possibility of chaos and confusion.
Use these micro-breaks to do something mindless. You can make fun of the colleague sitting next to you. You can watch a cat video. You can yawn. You can read a paragraph from a book. You can daydream your date with Angelina Jolie.
Basically, you can do anything mindless and entertaining.
We all have watched many videos and read many books on time management, but if we don’t fix this micro-problem, everything you learned can go waste and you wouldn’t even know why. So don’t forget including buffer time in your plans. However small these changes may seem to be at the moment, they can have a great impact on your productivity.