More work for the overworked. If you have plenty of time, you don’t need time management. If you are overworked, you don’t have time for time management. Life is not fair. Hasn’t been since you left the first grade.

Feel overworked if you like. Complain. Or fix it. Complaining is easier. And lasts longer.

The time, the job, and you.
You have noticed that you are better at some things in the morning. Or in the evening. But not all over the day. You have noticed that some jobs fit conveniently together (such as thinking and driving). You have noticed that some jobs take large segments of time while others fit easily into half an hour.

You use all this information to schedule jobs. When did you last check to see how well your scheduling is working for you? If that was a while ago, check again. Maybe you are smarter now. Here are some tricks for time control.

Joblets.
A joblet is a unit of work that has a goal, a start, and a finish. It should fit into a convenient unit of time (twenty minutes, an hour, or the like). It can be part of a larger job. You probably break big jobs into joblets to fit them into the schedule.

The advantage of joblets is that you know what you want to accomplish in the next hour or so. You know when you have accomplished it. And you can take satisfaction in getting it done.

The first joblet in any big job is to break it into joblets. The next joblet is to think about when is the best time to do those joblets.

Mealchecks.
Meals are a convenient time to pay attention to things you take for granted. For time control, pay attention to these questions:

What joblets did you finish off since your last meal?

Would any of these joblets have worked better at some other time?

What joblets will you finish off before the next meal?

Don’t spend more than five minutes on these questions. Try not to think the answers in words. Just use your imagination to see yourself working on the joblets. You can chew and imagine at the same time.

If your meals are too busy for mealchecks, find another regular time. For example, while driving or exercising.

Time Triage.
While you are thinking about the joblets you are going to finish off, think them into three boxes:
Must
May
You should be so lucky.

And don’t talk to yourself about this. Just imagine the joblets going into their proper boxes.

Schedule the pressures.
If you feel pressured, the schedule trick may help. The trick is not in making the schedule. Anybody can do that. The trick is in believing the schedule.

Three rules.
Treat what you put on your calendar as done for now.
Treat what you schedule as a promise to yourself.
Keep your promises. Or the trick will not work.

The trick here is to get joblets off your mind and onto your calendar. That pressure you feel comes from little memory units in your brain. They are keeping track of what you have to do. You want to convince them that your calendar will take care of that job. If they are convinced, they will stop bugging you.

Use one of these tricks for a week. Then try another. In a month you will take control of your time.

Author's Bio: 

S. H. Evans was Professor of Psychology at Texas Christian University and an independent consultant in behavioral research. Now retired, he works with Dr. D. F. Dansereau, Professor of Psychology at TCU. They maintain a free website based on work by the Applied Cognitive Research Lab at TCU. This site, thinkerer.org, provides simple, commonsense tools for self-improvement, self-direction, learning, and other psychological fixes.