Time is very limited. Don’t waste it. Wake up and warm up your brain early to get a head start compared with others.

It’s been a long time since I visited this topic. Many years ago, I wrote on this topic pointing out, each and everyone of us need to have a way of seeing time. I’m using calendar and still, on it.  However, today when I sat down and review all of my schedule, I realise that, seeing is not enough. 

Managing your personal time require both discipline and the feel of your body. 

I’ve been waking up at 5:30 ever since I was 14. But starting my day changed from time to time. I started to realise checking emails and social notification in the morning is not very effective. I used to flag news and important email to check later in the day, but this technique seems to force my brain start the day with too much information. Gradually, I I found out that your brain also needs warm up before jumping into a full hardworking day. I choose 10 minute meditation on bed. I’ve been practicing it for 3 months and I can feel the different, at least the stress level reduced tremendously. 

Exercise and fitness routine is very important to me. I choose 3 part in the day to fix the schedule: Morning, noon, and afterwork. In my line of work, I usually need to go out with partners at night. Just recently, I found out that you can still keep your routine even you will have to go to event or party at night. I chose to swim and and have dinner early before joining these events. 

Throughout a day, it’s very important to maintain your energy level balanced so you can keep up with other schedule. When I was young, I was able to do party all night and still wake up at 5:30, but when I’m getting older, I can feel a difference between saving energy and blast it all out. The difference is small but it needs yo to close your eyes and feel it. It might be just a soreness of your shoulder or neck, but later you will injure yourself of blasting all energy out like that. 

Managing working time requires a lot of emotional intelligence. 

As a manager, my biggest mistake is forcing everyone to work on my schedule. In western country, when you get to higher level in corporate, pulling everyone to work on your schedule is easier. But in Vietnam, this will be a lot harder. It’s maybe because of culture or simply just that Vietnamese love to judge work by using emotion. 

Leading a project, a task or even showing up early for a meeting require a large amount of work and follow-up. However, as I mentioned, leading from the front is a good habit but your energy level depleted overtime and you cannot burn it forever. 

In order to get everyone closest to your schedule, I advise you to try these techniques:

  1. Bargaining, it’s quite fun actually when you implement with people around you. Imagining the A time is your target, just keep it in mind and don’t tell people about it. However, whenever people ask you your expected time, just make it 30 minutes earlier than A. Best scenario, people will show up and make it 15 minutes late but still you get your bargain. 
  2. Always make time management is all about the ones you are working with. If you come up to a person and says, “hey, I’m free on… can we meet?” . This will turn out they will be busy. Try it another way, “hey, what time you free this week? Can we meet and talk?” -> 99% you will get a meeting and if you apply #1 bargaining you can get to your closest best schedule. It’s hard to manage your time, but it’s harder to manage you time to fit with others. 
  3. Sympathy is the keyword of successful coordination. Try to put you in the other shoes to understand their situation is very important when you make appointment. People around you have many issue to take care of. Things happens, they might miss it. But it’s not because of their fault, it’s because of your technique to follow up. Booking calendar, sms reminder, phone call are always good tool for you to follow up you meeting 

Managing your work task requires experience.

When I started working about 12 years ago, when my boss assign me a task, I usually spend half or full day to work on it. The result is not good, sometimes, I got distracted or got stuck, I couldn’t finish it. Gradually, when I keep working, I realise that the harder the task, the more chunks I need to split it. Making a proposal require at least 10 work task and split into different days. 

Tasks are also has to be specific, for eg. never put in something like: Making a business case of ABC. In stead, try this, do a research on ABC market (30 minutes), Analyse market of ABC (15minutes), write a report on research of ABC Market (30minutes). It will make you task more specific and more realistic. 

Often, I never spend more than 30 minutes on task. And try to make a walk after a 30minutes of focus work. Drink water and walk up and down the stair. It helps to prolong your spine also. 

Blending family times and work times

My advise on balance between family and work is avoiding social networks and notifications. Problem with modern time is that digital life takes more of your time than in the past. In Vietnam, people are 50% on mobile in a day. And mobile is not a productivity tool. During work, my notification if off. I try to split my mail and notification checking 3 times a day, 8 a.m. , 1:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. 

Saving a lot of times mean you can spend more time for family. To me, I don’t have family and work time. It just blends. At home, we always have reading time when a whole family gather and read together for an hour. I usually use this time to read and research on books related to work. 

Managing your time is an art. It’s not just one or two day you can be an expert. Don’t wish to be a millionaire by following millionaire advise. Just keep your mind open and share with others. Remember you will always need to learn and try to apply new things. 

“Time is very limited. Don’t waste it. Wake up and warm up your brain early to get a head start compared with others.”

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