Careers

Switching tasks from ‘Neutral’ to ‘Automatic’

Switching tasks from ‘neutral’ to ‘automatic’
The new guide for effective time management according to the theories of Rory Vaden.

Third article in the series

Let’s start with an authentic Israeli story. In the 1960s, as part of efforts to strengthen ties with Africa, an Israeli representative arrived in a remote village and watched the women watering their furrows of vegetables. The river was distant and the women walked back and forth for hours with buckets balanced on their heads. ‘What tough and unnecessary work!’ thought the Israeli. He enthusiastically outlined a plan to lay irrigation pipes and was amazed when his fellow conversationalist, the village head, refused the offer. ‘”Why?” the frustrated Israeli asked. “It’ll give them too much time to think,” came the response.

Automation is one of the dominant characteristics of modern culture. Most of us, though, feel as though we barely have time to breathe, what with our jobs, homes, and life in general. The concept “time management,” which appeared in the second half of the 20thcentury, focused on efficiency as a way of measuring successful management. Later, prioritizing was added, but even taken together, the two systems don’t provide the average person a chance to maneuver smoothlybetween growing numbers of tasks.

Rory Vaden examined the conduct of multipliers, people with a natural talent for time management. His study led to the development of a new model comprised of four stages for handling tasks. At each stage, the baseline question has to be: how does my action today affect my life tomorrow?

Stage 1 is elimination: it helps us decide which taskswe can forego.

Stage 2, which we’ll explore further in this article, is automation. The question we’ll look at here is: if I can’t cancel a certain task, can I make it automatic?

Here’s an example. Paperwork’s piling up, whether by snailmail or email. Whocould be bothered with it all? Many of us just put things aside until a layer of dust accumulatesand only handle themwhen we’re left with no choice. That’s how we forget to pay insurance on time, or take the car in for its annual registration renewal, file away important guarantees on purchases, and even end up paying a fine on parking because we didn’t fix it right away. The outcome: reminders, warnings, and bottomline, interest bearing fines on missed deadlines. Add to that the frustration of having to search through the papers for that lost item which you need urgently, and you remember “just putting down near the computer a week ago… but someone must’ve moved it!”

What might happen if we put that boring filing job on automatic? If we decide to devote a monthly hour to it on a fixed basis, such as the last Wednesday of every month? Very quickly we discover that we’ve not only cleared our desk, but that hour also lets us look ahead into our financial space. We can plan expenses in advance, decide on a worthwhile investment orthat money we see has freed up (how does a family vacation sound?), and so on. That monthly hour has entered our automatic time management schedule and turned into an investment with a yield which can be measured in time and income.

Sounds simple? Sounds effective? Run with it. Think about tasks in your lives that you cannot avoid, but can turn into automatic actions. We learned about automation fromtime multipliers, those people withaninherentsense ofefficiency. What can encourage you to emulate them? Perhaps the knowledge that the way the wealthy relate to money is exactly the way multipliers relate to time.

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