One of the ways I often lose time during the day is by thinking that "free time" between appointments or projects isn't long enough to start something new. I'll look at my calendar and see that I have 30 minutes until my next appointment and think "I don't want to start anything now because I won't get anywhere on it." So I'll just browse Facebook or look up new podcasts about productivity until my next appointment.
What I'm actually saying is "I don't want to keep working during this time and don't feel like putting in the effort." If I was really using my time wisely I would see that 30 minute gap as an opportunity to start on the next item or continue working on something I left off from the other day. Basically, budgeting time and seeing the small steps as more efficient and more productive. I will hardly ever be able to carve out a 3 hour chunk of time to start and finish a project. I will, however, be able to find 30 minutes a day to work on it for a week or two until it's done.
This method, of continually returning to a project in small bites, also gives you a built in review step of what you did before. It allows you time to think about something, research it, and then see how it fits or doesn't. I know there are people who say, “Continually stopping and starting something isn’t productive and you get no where on it.” I agree with this sentiment whole heartedly. However, what these people forget is the importance of starting early.
As a tutor and educator I constantly tell my students to, “Start early and work often” on projects that are due a “long ways” down the road. I tell them that this helps them take small bites out of the project and gives them a better product in the end. What I have failed to do is translate that advice into my own life. For long projects or studying, I encourage students take frequent breaks, standing up and walking around. Maybe playing some Candy Crush or something else to get your brain to relax a little. It’s about pacing ourselves in the fast paced society. It’s about guarding out time and using it wisely. Because if we don't tell our time what it will be doing, it will leave us empty handed.
My new busy schedule doesn’t leave me very large chunks of time anymore, but I still have very large projects to work on. I haven’t been viewing those 20 or 30 minutes as the gold mines of productivity that they are. Something I’ll definitely be changing.