Limit Your Minutes

by Stephen Mills on April 26, 2010

Stop Watch

Limiting the time you spend on various tasks to a specific number of minutes will help with you with focus, procrastination, and problems with perfectionism.  Studies have shown that people generally perform better under a strict deadline.  I use a countdown timer like Cool Timer or VersaTimer on my computer.

Give yourself a specific amount of time to finish a task and then don’t cheat.  Live with your time limit.  When the time is up, stop.  Allow what you’ve accomplished in the time limit to be good enough.  Give yourself 30 minutes to clean a room and then let the result stand.  Give yourself two hours to write the report and then let that be good enough.  Forcing yourself to live with what was accomplished in your time limit will help you implement the 80/20 rule and overcome your perfectionist tendencies.  If for some reason you simply have to spend more time, do it later under another time limit.

I find this is a fantastic way to focus on an activity and prevent myself from being distracted.  It works wonders for tasks I am not excited about performing.  It keeps me from wanting to check email, get a drink, go to the bathroom, or find other ways to procrastinate.

Don’t just use time limits for obvious tasks like the given examples of cleaning a room or writing a report.  Use them for other things like commitments you might have or volunteer efforts.  Put a limit on the hours per week you are going to commit to coaching the little league team.  Make sure you are clear on the limit for the time you will dedicate.  Commitments without clear limits can become bottomless time pits that suck your life away.

It should go without saying if you cheat on your time limits, you will know they mean nothing and in the end simply wont work.  I have begun self-enforcing limits on many of the things I do and I find that it works wonderfully.

What do YOU think?  Leave a comment and join the conversation.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

B @ logos coaching April 26, 2010 at 11:11 pm

I also like to limit my time doing things. I decide on the amount of time I feel the action warrants in my life. With housework I used to do it in one go weekly but found I kept getting distracted so now I do it in three chunks of time during the week and it works out at half the time! Its amazing what can get done when total focus is involved.
.-= B @ logos coaching´s last blog ..Life in the oneness is never lonely =-.

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Stephen Mills April 27, 2010 at 7:28 pm

Hello B, yes focus is indeed a powerful force. It’s a skill that should receive a lot more attention in our schools instead of rote memorization of facts.

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Richard | RichardShelmerdine.com April 27, 2010 at 3:35 am

I think this is what is sometimes known as TimeBoxing. By limiting yourself you get everything done because there is no alternative. It’s amazing what we can do when forced into action.
.-= Richard | RichardShelmerdine.com´s last blog ..9 Excellent Eating Habits For Living Longer =-.

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Stephen Mills April 27, 2010 at 7:30 pm

Hi Richard, I looked up the term TimeBoxing and found this article. Thanks for that tip.

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Alex Blackwell May 1, 2010 at 8:12 am

Helpful info to look at time management s chunks of time. A micro-view helps me to see what I need to do right away so I don’t lose sight of the big picture.

Alex

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