Focus on what you would like to accomplish rather than attempting to practice all those time management and organizing ideas that come your way, which may or may not have any relevance to your situation or the goals that you are attempting to achieve. This is not to say you should work inefficiently; but the focus should be on getting the important things done.
Your brain – specifically the prefrontal cortex – uses a lot of energy in the process of evaluating, making decisions, and applying time management and organizing ideas, which may not actually save much time. If there’s an obvious big one that would revolutionize the way you work, by all means grab it; but don’t waste valuable energy that is needed for the variety of priorities and goal-related activities that will impact your future.
This focus on doing something positive consumes less mental energy and lends itself to the brain’s goal-directed orientation. Your brain generates from 10 to 23 watts of power when you’re awake – enough to turn on a lightbulb. But you must conserve as much of this energy as possible so you can cope with the day’s activities.
Schwartz and Gladding claim in their book, You are not your brain, “When you learn to focus your attention in positive, beneficial ways, you actually require your brain to support those actions and habits.”
It’s easy to fall in love with orderliness, efficiency and speed to the point where they become the objectives rather than the means – costly objectives when it comes to the consumption of energy.
Time management and personal organization are tools, like your desk, laptop and software that enable you to achieve goals in a timely manner. Don’t allow them to become procrastination tools that occupy your time and thus delay your achievements.
If you continually focus on goals, you will soon discover the most efficient and effective ways of accomplishing them. When you win at sports or in life, there are no points for having the most organized locker. Let time management and organizing be tools that help you achieve your goals, and not goals in themselves.
I won’t go so far as to say energy management should replace time management as a few books and articles seem to suggest; but I do believe that energy is a critical, frequently ignored resource that must also be managed. And it should be taken into consideration before applying any new time management strategies.
Crossing off items on a To Do list can become a goal in itself instead of a way of achieving your goals. Keeping organized can become an obsession in itself rather than a way to become more productive. And attempting to apply every time management suggestion that comes along can actually become a time waster in itself.
Keep your goals in mind. Focus on the results you want to obtain. Don’t let the medium become the message.