In a world of plentiful distractions and never-ending to-do lists, it’s far too easy to get caught up in non-important tasks and lose sight of what you need to handle. This could be a class assignment that is due, some tasks around your home before company arrives, or a number of money-making activities that could be completed. You need to be fast, efficient and focused, but how can you achieve this?

The answer is more simple than you may imagine. Time yourself.

This can be applied to practically any task at hand, will help you increase speed, and stay vigilant. If you are being timed and racing the clock, odds are you aren’t going to take an unnecessary trip to the water cooler, scroll through social media home feeds, answer every notification, or get caught up socializing.

I personally did this experiment with my work. I wanted to see if I could write an article in 30 minutes so I set a timer, allowed for no external distractions, and completed my first draft in only 20 minutes. Had I been chatting with family, liking posts online or texting back and forth, this same assignment could have easily dragged on for an hour.

I also did this with an editing assignment. I wanted to see if I could complete the task in under 10 minutes, and came in at 5 minutes, all because I could sense competition against the clock, adrenaline, and I wasn’t going to let anything interrupt or distract me.

Additionally, I have applied this to other concepts at home, such as putting on makeup, unloading the dishwasher and folding laundry. It’s incredible how much better I utilize my time when I add a clock to the equation.

Timing Tips

Here are the tools you need to be successful while you time yourself.

● Turn off distractions. Turn off the television, and silence your phone. If you are working on your computer and need a concentration boost, try adding in white noise to drown out external sounds.
● Set real-time voicemail and automated messages. Set up your voicemail and email response to say something to the effect of “Today I will be returning calls/responding to messages between the hours of 11am and 1pm.” This way, you don’t feel obligated to drop what you’re doing to reply, and the other party knows when to expect communications from you.
● A variety of timers. Most of what you need is already on your phone, but you can always utilize your watch or a kitchen timer. Set alarms on your phone for the beginning of your task to signal that it’s time to start, with a label such as “Work out,” “Write paper,” or “Clean bathroom.” You can then either set an alarm for the completion time, or utilize the stopwatch feature if you’re curious to see just how fast you can complete a task.

The more cognisant you are about how you spend your time, the more effective you will become at using it. You may schedule your day better, eliminate wasteful activities and establish enough time for your priorities and passions. What are you waiting for? The clock is ticking!