A Skewed Sense of Time Screws Up Your Schedule

meltingclock-daliCasinos play some interesting mind games to keep players at the tables. They’ll do anything to make you forget the outside world exists.

There are attractive settings with enough class to make anyone feel like James Bond in Monte Carlo and free drinks as long as you’re playing at the slot machines or the tables. Floor plans are designed so that you have to travel through gaming areas to reach restaurants, shops and shows.

Dealers are friendly enough and might even grant you a small winning streak. (Then tables will change dealers and you can say good-bye to Lady Luck.) If you win big enough, you may even get a few perks, like a free dinner or room.

What’s even more subtle is the way that casinos suck you in to a bizarre vortex where you lose track of time completely. Clocks can’t be found in casinos. Time is out of sight and out of mind. You may sit down with the intention of playing only a hand or two of blackjack only to look up and realize you’ve lose both your last dollar and a whole night.

Of course, as the saying goes, time flies when you’re having fun. And time flies when you work online, too.

Where Did The Time Go?

How many of you have been trapped in the online vortex? You send an email, then wait impatiently for a reply, thinking it’s taking forever when it’s only been minutes or maybe a couple of hours. What about days of the week? You lose track and think it’s Monday, when it’s actually Wednesday and you’ve blown a deadline.

Then there are days when you’re so absorbed by your work that you glance at your tiny clock in the corner of your desktop tray to realize you’re late on starting dinner or that you’ve nearly missed picking up your kids from school.

Time’s All Screwed Up

The internet skews the perception of time. Losing track of time is common for online workers. It’s easy to get focused on the virtual world and forget the real world is moving past you.

This skewed sense of time has damaging effects on your life – and on your business, too. When you don’t have a clear sense of time, you’ll forget about what you have to do and eventually run your train off the tracks when it all catches up to you.

You may be in trouble if:

You’re starting to forget important things.

Your memory can only hold so much information, and eventually something just doesn’t get stored properly. If you’re trying to keep track of all you have to do, what you haven’t done yet, what’s late, what’s finished and what’s coming tomorrow, you’ll have trouble focusing on right now.

The Fix: Get tasks out of your head. Make a list, jot them down, put them on a calendar, use checklists, and find tools where you can scribble tasks so you empty brain space. You’ll be better able to prioritize your tasks and free your mind for the focus you need to get them done.

You feel like you’re constantly short of time.

Sometimes it’s necessary to burn the midnight oil, but eventually that oil runs out. If you find yourself constantly staying up late, working through weekends or days off, scrambling to keep up, and you still miss deadlines or come too close to them, you need to get some breathing room.

The Fix: Take a look at the way you’re planning your day. You could be scheduling far too much into the hours you have and surpassing your personal limits. Be realistic about what you can do in the time you have available.

You have no motivation.

Poor time management and procrastination go hand in hand. The more you have to do, the less you want to do it. You start to put things off, thinking, “I have three days left; I can get it done.” Before you know it, the three days are up and you’re scrambling because you haven’t started anything yet. Maybe you’re the type that says, “I have so much to do that I can’t seem to get anything done!”

The Fix:If you have a long to-do list, start with the easiest task. Focus only on getting it done, and then move to the next task. Break bigger jobs down into smaller tasks, too, and do a little bit each day. Don’t assign a huge block of time to only one project and especially not in a single day. Use a whiteboard and cross tasks off as you complete them. The visual representation of your progress is going to help you feel better and more motivated.

You’re Driven to Distraction.

When time gets tight or you just can’t seem to get started, you may find yourself focusing on unrelated tasks instead of what you have to do. Maybe you work on a project that really isn’t urgent or important. Maybe you clean your desk, do housework or play a quick video game. You tell yourself that the distractions will help your creativity. This is not useful, productive work.

The Fix: Distractions you create for yourself are often a sign of avoidance. You may have fears that you’re not up to the work you have to do, or you’re expressing a lack of interest. Sure, the housework has to get done, but when there are other priorities, you need to make time to focus on them – even if you don’t want to.

When you begin to be aware of how you spend your time, you’ll start to see where you can improve. Sometimes, you’ll be stunned to see how little time has passed when you feel like it’s been hours, or you’ll be shocked to see how much time you’ve spent when you thought it was just minutes.

How do you manage your time? Have you ever lost track of it? Do you find you get sucked into a time vortex often? Share your stories and the good time management tips you’ve found work well for you.

Image “The Persistence of Memory” by Salvador Dali

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