Playing Tetris With Time Management

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There I was, running around trying to juggle umpteen items and doing only a fair job of it at best. There was my therapy business, and I have been putting big pieces into place to add coaching to my business along with having to prepare a presentation for an annual convention. Then there’s family, kids’ needs, marital needs… You know what I mean.

Suddenly I thought about my wife. I began to notice how smoothly she manages tasks in her life. It would have been really easy to miss because she really does make it look effortless, but when you add up the sheer number of things she does… WHOA! Absolutely amazing!

So, about two weeks ago I asked her if she would teach me how she juggles so much so well. She asked for a few days to think about it. She said, “Honestly, I just do it, so I’ll have to think more about how it is that I do all I do.” Here is what she came up with.

Her first comments came a few hours later. She said, “Do you remember my favorite game, Tetris? Well, I work with time like I play the game Tetris.” Pieces are always falling, it never stops. Sometimes you get an indication of what’s coming, because at the right of the screen there’s a picture of the next falling piece, but when the pieces pick up speed you often have no time even to look over to see what’s coming. You simply have to fit them all into place as they are falling at a frenzied pace. “This,” she said, “is how I manage time.”

What a great analogy and then she added these jewels to round it out for me. I’m passing them along to you. They’ve already made a difference in how I deal with time management. I know they will for you too.

Guiding “Tetris” Time Management Principles

  1. Expect interruptions!
  2. Tolerate interruptions!
  3. THINK SMALL! Fit small activities into small bits of time
    • Make that quick phone call
    • Start a load of laundry
    • Sort through the mail
    • Unload the dishwasher
    • Answer a quick email
    • Mow part of the yard
    • …the list is endless
  4. Remember that few things these days have a true deadline – mostly, they are things we just want to do or accomplish
  5. Do not start big or long projects unless time is blocked off
  6. Guard your time & learn how to say “NO” when big or long projects near a deadline
    • Make a “crunch time” list
    • Say, “I’m sorry I can’t do that, I promised myself I’d get this done”
    • Enlist the help of friends/spouse to guard your time
    • Prep your children in advance
    • Close a door, and display a “Do not disturb” sign
    • Plan breaks & connect with the family – knowing that you will spend time with them in 2 or 4 hours, they won’t feel neglected and won’t interrupt as much
  7. Mentally adopt the belief that there will always be things to do and get done – the tasks will never be gone!
    • If you die today, someone else will do what is necessary!
    • If you die today, some stuff won’t get done because it wasn’t important to anyone but you!

Best wishes towards your wise use of time!


Dave Turo-Shields, ACSW, LCSW is an author, university faculty member, success coach and veteran psychotherapist whose passion is guiding others to their own success in life. For weekly doses of the webs HOTTEST success tips, sign up for Dave’s powerful “Feeling Great!” ezine at http://www.Overcoming-Depression.com

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