Blog with Joel Brookman

Time Optimization

During my college summers, I would return to my parents home in New Jersey, manage a swimming pool store, and run a pool service business on the side. I made great money (especially for a college kid). When I would return to school in Florida, the available jobs were mostly low paying. I realized that if I worked hard enough in the summer, I could make enough to get through the school year without working in Florida. That left me a lot of time to study. Somehow the studying managed to take the full amount of time I had available. In the last semester of my senior year, I got a good job in Florida. Now I was really busy. My class load was the same as it had been in years past, but the material was more demanding. Ironically, no only did I manage to get everything done, my grades were better than they had been when I had more time to study. This is the point in life where I discovered the concept of time optimization. Knowing that I have limited time, I am forced to become more productive with the time available. The amazing part is that the quality of the work (in my example) was actually better. The question becomes, how do I apply the concept of time optimization to each day?

Create deadlines

I decided that I wanted to write an eBook. I made this decision about 4 months ago. I know what I want to write about and I even created an outline. It’s just a matter of sitting down at my computer and writing it. The problem is that I don’t have a deadline. If I created a deadline as I do for the articles I write each week and the podcasts I post each day, I have no doubt that it would be finished by now. I am giving myself until the end of July to have the eBook complete. Feel free to hold me accountable.

Set incremental goals that are attached to rewards

My daughter Sarah is a great student. While she is smart, she also has great study habits. When she has a project she chunks it down to daily allotments. When she finishes the work she has designated for herself on a particular day, she rewards herself with screen time. There are several benefits here. First, it prevents procrastination because she takes incremental steps each day. Second, she has incentive to get her work done quickly because the sooner she finishes, the sooner she gets back to her iPhone.

Time Block

Phones, email, and social media all present challenges to productivity. Most of us believe that we can multi-task but countless studies suggest that multi-tasking not only slows you down, but negatively affects the quality of your work. The conscious mind is not designed to handle more than one task at a time. If you have a project, decide how much time you want to dedicate to it. During this time silence your phone, stay off social media, and shut down your email. Work in blocks of 50 minutes, then allow 10 minutes at the end of each hour to take a break and check messages.

Prioritize your tasks

Resist the desire to do the easy or less taxing tasks first. Importance and urgency should be the drivers behind how you prioritize your tasks. At the end of each work day, create a task list that includes everything you need to accomplish. Once the list is complete, prioritize each item. When you begin work the following day, tackle the number one item on your list and do nothing else until you have completed it. Then take a break, check messages, handle correspondence, and move to task number two. Aside from increasing productivity, listing your tasks before you finish work relieves you from having to keep things in your head. It can prevent that sleepless night where you lie wake in fear of forgetting those things you need to accomplish.

If you want to be a great employee, run a successful business, or become the most sought-after resource for any project, master the art of time optimization. When you do, you become a taskmaster skilled at getting things done efficiently. This could prove to be the single-most critical skill you bring to an organization.


Posted by Joel Brookman in get more done, Get things done, highest and best use of time, productivity and tagged .


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