Work better and more efficiently despite constant stress: time management with focus and clarity


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Text comes from: Sprint: Wie man in nur fünf Tagen neue Ideen testet und Probleme löst (2016), Mehr Zeit: Wie man sich auf das Wichtigste konzentriert (2018) by Jake Knapp, published by Münchener Verlagsgruppe (MVG), Reprints by friendly permission of the publisher.
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Do you ever look back at the day and ask yourself: "What did I actually do today?" Do you ever imagine projects and activities in your daydreams that you will do one day - but somehow "one day" never comes? Because read on!

Work better and more efficiently despite constant stress: time management with focus and clarity

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Jake Knapp designed the sprint process for Google Ventures.

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More time has nothing to do with productivity

This text is about how to slow down the hectic modern life; it's about how to make time for the things that really matter. We believe it is possible to feel less stressed, be less distracted and enjoy the moment more. That might sound a little esoteric and aloof, but we're serious.

More time has nothing to do with productivity. It's not about getting more done, completing the to-do list faster, or outsourcing your life. Rather, it is a system that aims to help you free up more time of your day for the things that are important to you - whether it is about spending more time with your family, learning a language, building a sideline, yourself Do volunteer work, write a novel or master the video game Mario Kart. Whatever you want to spend the time saved on, we believe that more time can help. You can keep or regain control of your life moment by moment and day by day.

Why are we so stressed?

But first let's talk about why our lives are so stressful and chaotic today. And why it's probably not your fault if you feel stressed and distracted all the time. In the 21st century, two powerful forces compete for every minute of your time. We call the first the "Busy Bandwagon"; this is the culture of hustle and bustle, overflowing mailboxes, overcrowded diaries and endless to-do lists.

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The mentality behind the Busy Belt Truck is that if you want to meet the demands of a modern workplace and function in a modern society, you must be productive every minute of your life. Once you slack off, you fall behind and you can never catch up. And then there is the "Infinity Pool". Infinity pools are apps and other sources whose content is constantly being updated. If you can update them with a swipe, it's an infinity pool. If you can stream it, it's an infinity pool. This endless loop of XNUMX/XNUMX, updatable entertainment is the "reward" for the exhaustion our relentless busyness creates.

Stress as a normal state: is constant activity really necessary?

But is constant busyness really necessary? Is Endless Distraction Really a Reward? Or have we all switched to autopilot? We spend most of our time in a preprogrammed way. Both forces - the Busy Bandwagon and the Infinity Pools - are so powerful because they have become our default setting. In techno-speak, standard setting means the factory setting of a brand new device. If you don't actively change it, then the device works with the pre-installed standard setting.

For example, when you buy a new mobile phone, email and web browser apps are pre-installed on your screen. The default setting is for you to be informed of every new incoming message. The mobile phone has a preset screen saver and a standard ringtone. All of these functions have been preinstalled by Apple, Google or another manufacturer; You can change the default settings, but it's a hassle, so we often leave it at that. Almost all aspects of our lives are determined by standard behavior patterns similar to the standard settings on technical devices, and they make distraction and stress the norm.

Question your behavior

So when you feel overwhelmed and torn, it is not a personal failure, but usually just a combination of unquestioned standard behavior patterns that work against you. Nobody looks at an empty diary and says, "The best way to spend my time is to cram the diary with all sorts of meetings!" Nobody says, "The most important thing today is other people's whims and ideas!" Of course not. That would be completely crazy.

But because of the standard behavior patterns that are not questioned, that's exactly what we do. At the workplace, 30 or 60 minutes are set as standard for each meeting, even if the questions to be resolved actually only require a brief discussion. By default, other people determine how our diary is filled, and by default it is assumed that we are okay with one meeting following the next every day. The rest of our work is by default done by email and messaging systems, and by default we are constantly checking our mailboxes and responding to all messages immediately.

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From busy bandwagon to infinity pools: distraction as a full-time job

React immediately to everything, always be approachable. Use your time, be efficient, and get more done. These are the standard rules of the busy bandwagon. When we jump off the busy bandwagon, the infinity pools lurk around the corner. While the Busy Bandwagon by default inundates us with an incessant flood of tasks to do, the Infinity Pool stresses us out with endless distractions by default. Our cell phones, laptops and televisions are filled with games, social feeds and videos. Everything is just a touch of the fingertip away and irresistible to the point of addiction.

Update Facebook, browse YouTube, keep reading the latest news, play Candy Crush, and watch TV shows until the doctor arrives. This is the standard behavior lurking behind the voracious infinity pools that devour every crumb of time left by the busy bandwagon. When you consider that the average person spends at least four hours a day on their smartphones and watches TV for at least four more hours, distraction is practically a full-time job.

Willpower and Productivity as a Solution? No!

And there you are now between the busy bandwagon and the infinity pools, which you both want to pull in their respective directions and tear apart in the middle. But what about you? What do you actually want from your days and your life? What if you just changed these defaults and made your own rules?

Willpower is not a solution. We have tried to resist the siren song of these forces and we know it is impossible. Plus, we've worked in the tech industry for many years and know these apps, games, and devices well enough to know that you'll end up succumbing to their seductiveness.

Productivity is not a solution either. We have tried to streamline our work as well as possible, waste time and add more tasks to our to-do lists. The problem is, there are always more tasks waiting to be done. The faster you run in your hamster wheel, the faster it spins.

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Focus & Concentration: Determine the default setting for your life

But there is a way to free your focus and attention from competing distractions and regain control of your time. More time provides a framework for deciding what to focus on, mustering the energy to do that, and breaking the cycle of standard behavior patterns so that you can determine your own lifestyle and be in control of your own time again. But even if you don't have complete control over it - and most of us do - you can definitely control your attention.

We want to help you determine your own default settings. As you develop new habits and change your mindset, you can stop responding to the overstimulation of the modern world and start actively making time for the people and activities that are important to you. The point here is not to save time, but to take the time for important things. New ideas can give you space in your diary, your head, and your days. This place can bring calm and clarity into your everyday life and open up space for new hobbies and projects that are postponed "sometime". A little more space in your life could even release the creative energies that you have lost or not developed in the first place.


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