Getting the most out of your days will help you get the most out of your life.
Let me begin by stating the obvious: you cannot manage your time; you can only manage yourself. And, if you want to get more work done, you’ve got to manage yourself/your time effectively and efficiently. It’s easy to say but hard to do, especially in a work world full of distractions.
It’s amazing how much work some people manage to get done, while others seem to be stuck in a rut without enough time in the day to accomplish much of anything. Everyone has the same amount of time — it’s what you choose to do with that time that makes all the difference. Richard Branson, Oprah, and you; all with 24 hours a day. If you want to up your game and get more work done, here are some things I’ve found that really help.
Track Your Activities for a Week
To get a real picture of how you spend your time, try tracking everything you do for at least one week. Use a calendar/planner with short time intervals or a small recorder to record when you start and stop any task, and include the time. Alternatively, just use an old-fashioned pad and paper. Don’t change anything for now; just live your life as you do.
When my employees complain that they don’t have enough time to get everything done, this is the first thing I have them do. After a couple days tracking their activities, my employees usually see the productivity gaps in their schedules and realize that they have plenty of time to get everything done.
Now look at how you spent your time. Organize each thing that you did into urgent, important, family, fun, and time wasters. Some things that are fun might fall into the category of time wasting and that’s okay, because you can place limits on some things to still allow yourself to have fun without going overboard into time wasting. These days the most common time wasters at work are checking email too frequently, checking social media, checking stocks and the rest. Instead of checking those things regularly, schedule time to check in, then close them. Don’t just minimize them, shut down the programs.
Assign All Important Tasks to a “To-Do” List
Ari Meisel writes in Less Doing, More Living that we shouldn’t use a To-Do List as a dumping ground for things that aren’t doable, and I think he’s right. There’s a difference between “stuff on your mind” and stuff you can actually do, and only the latter should be on your To-Do List. How you keep track of these things will vary according to your preference, but you must get things out of your head and into the system. Note pad, email, or calendar. Everything that is urgent and important should be scheduled. Some urgent and important things will also be family things. Put it all into the schedule. Give it the amount of time you think it will take, adding a few minutes for padding to avoid run over and missed deadlines.
Schedule Fun Time
Don’t forget to put time for fun into your schedule. Fun often goes with family and friends and it is a very important part of your life. The trick is to schedule the right amount of time and the right amount of fun, without intruding on the important and urgent tasks and activities that you also must do.
Spend Time Each Night and Morning in Planning Mode
Take the time each evening to evaluate how your day went, decide what could have been done better, or what needs longer or shorter times to accomplish. If you do this you will get better at creating a plan. Each morning take the time to look over your schedule to remind yourself what is coming up so you don’t forget anything. Never rely on just memory or you will get off track.
Create a Plan of Action for Each Activity
It doesn’t matter if the plan is for family time, for business, or something else – if you create a plan of attack for each item on your to-do list, you’ll accomplish it faster with fewer problems. One of the biggest time wasters is jumping from item to item. Stick to one thing at a time until it’s done and you’ll feel as if you have a lot more time in your day.
Train Others to Respect Your Time
If you have a business, especially if you work from home, you will often find that other people seem to lack respect for your time. The real issue is that you’ve not taught people to respect your time. As Oprah (or maybe it was Dr. Phil) once said, “You teach people how to treat you.” Are you teaching people to respect your time? If not, it’s time to start doing so.
Never underestimate the power of delegation for getting more time in your day. A good assistant can almost double your time. So while you can’t actually get more time, remember that everyone has the same 24 hours. You can create a situation where you duplicate yourself by hiring an assistant or outsourcing some mundane tasks such as housework or lawn care. There is no such thing as a successful CEO who doesn’t delegate.
Finally, it’s important to always be realistic about what can really be accomplished in any given amount of time. No matter how much you want to be, you’re not superwoman (or man) – you’re just a human who is doing their best to manage the resources they have. If something doesn’t get done today, move it to tomorrow. As you get better at scheduling, you’ll get it down to a science on how long it really takes you to do any particular task and you’ll have fewer days where you don’t succeed.
Do this now: make a decision and commit to getting more work done. Learning how to get more work done, then doing what you learn, will make the difference between being ordinary and being exceptional.
Do you have tips on how to get more work done? Leave a message in the comments section. If you have any questions or would like more information on this article or DoThisNotThatMarketing.com, please email me.