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In the last few days, you have tamed your technical time-eaters. Today you are starting to improve your work organization to free up time and become more effective.

Here is your task for today:

First, take a look at the time-eaters in the following table. Which ones apply to you and your everyday life, and to what extent? All habits, even the bad ones, benefit you, even if it sounds absurd and isn’t easy to recognize at first glance. Do you understand the benefit behind your time-eaters? The table gives you a suggestion for each one.

ZeitfresserNutzen
Mangelnde Konzentration/
zu vieles gleichzeitig machen
Mich unersetzlich fühlen?
PerfektionismusAnerkennung bekommen? Von wem?
Unangenehmes aufschieben Konflikten aus dem Weg gehen? Welche Konflikte? Mit wem?
Planloses Arbeiten ohne Prioritäten Mich nicht um Prioritäten kümmern müssen? Mein Ziel nicht kennen?
Planlose Meetings, Treffen und Besprechungen Mich wichtig fühlen? Wovor drücke ich mich mit diesem Beschäftigt-sein?
UnordnungKeine Disziplin brauchen? Wortlos ausdrücken, dass es mir nicht gut geht?
Aufgaben nicht zu Ende führen Zeigen, wie beschäftigt ich bin?

Today we are dealing with the problem of lack of concentration or lack of focus. This problem is widespread and a sign of a lack of prioritization. It is often better and more productive to do nothing than to do the wrong thing (e.g., “Before I do nothing, I’m going to check my email”). Because doing nothing gives you time to think and feel what you actually want to or should do. If you start right away with the first task you encounter, you’ll soon be so busy that you won’t even ask yourself whether what you’re doing is relevant to you at all.

Second part of your task:

Make the following rules your own:

  1. Before you start your (working) day, make a note of one to three things you want to accomplish today (not just start!), something that makes you feel you’ve done something useful. If you manage to do only one thing today – what would it be to make the day feel rewarding and productive?
  2. Choose the highest priority task from the list of three. When in doubt, always choose the most unpleasant task to quickly get it off the table so that it no longer burdens you.
  3. Put all distractions away (mobile phone to flight mode, phone to silent or answering machine, switch off computer alerts, etc.), as you learned in the last few days to work in a focused and uninterrupted manner.
  4. Now set the shortest deadline possible (maximum 1.5 hours) and set an alarm clock for it (e.g., the timer on your smartphone, an alarm clock, an egg timer, or a timer on the web at how-employees-startup.com/timer). If the task definitely takes more than 1.5 hours, define the first step. This should get you as close as possible to achieving the goal in less than 1.5 hours of focused work.

Now work only on this one target until the alarm clock signals.

If you finish before the time runs out (which happens quite often), take a short break, get up, maybe get a glass of water or look out the window a bit. After a few minutes, return to your work and proceed to the next item on your list. Set a fixed time again, set your alarm clock, but make sure you don’t work more than 1.5 hours without taking a break of 10 to 15 minutes.

The 1.5 hours is a guideline. Maybe it feels better for you to work a maximum of 45 or 60 minutes at a time and then take a short break. Determine your “attention span” by observing the next time you lose concentration. The same applies to short and long breaks. These should do you and your body good. So, enjoy the break and switch off, don’t use it to “just do something or check your emails!”

Important: From this point forward, follow this procedure every working day. You can’t manage this? Then forget about self-employment!

Why this exercise? This structure fosters focus by eliminating the impulse to start (too many) new tasks without completing the others. You need this quality to become independent successfully and to manage your life without burning the candles at both ends.