It seems like everyone is struggling with a lack of time. The irony is that our lives are so filled with labor-saving tools that we’re now serving those tools rather than each other.
Every human has had 24 hours a day since the dawn of time. So you can’t argue that you’re out of time, just that you’re not using it all that effectively. You’re probably doing lots of things that previous generations would have never dreamed of.
There’s a million resources out there to help you manage your time. Here are some ways to get more done:
1) Take Care of Your Body
Get sleep, eat healthy food – all that stuff your mother told you. Often a lack of focus and energy DIRECTLY relates to our bodies not being ready to jump in and engage.
2) Know the Purpose
Sure, you’re supposed to spend half your day shuttling kids from one place to another. What was the point? To help them build healthy minds, bodies, and spirits. Perhaps part of that is having time to play, not in so many organized activities.
3) Say NO, But at the Right Time
The time to say NO is when there’s little impact. If I’m supposed to meet you this evening and bail out at the last minute, that’s a big impact. If we had decided never to meet in the first place, or to do something which made more efficient use of time, there may have been no impact at all. Think through the commitments you’re making, so that you set yourself up for success in meeting them.
4) Bribe Yourself
It actually does work to attach rewards to your goals. When you accomplish something important, it helps to attach some kind of pleasure to that. It keeps you motivated to do more. But make it appropriate: Perhaps it’s not in the right proportion to go out and buy a new car as a reward for showing up to work on time for a month. If you do that, then how could you possibly reward yourself for doing something truly important?
5) Separate WISHES from COMMITMENTS
There’s a time and place for both. Move something up to a commitment when it’s important to you and others, and making the promise will help get you motivated.
6) Make It Fun
There’s a lot of things we get too serious about, which will tend to drain your energy. Are there ways to incorporate some energy and lightness into your tasks? There’s no reason why you can’t clean the house and dance at the same time. Whistle while you work.
7) Adopt an Attitude of Always Meeting Commitments and Surpassing Expectations
When you do this, you’ll be more careful about setting expectations in advance. And let’s be realistic – it’s WAY too easy to get trapped into making commitments that you don’t intend to fulfill. Say NO, at the right time.
8) Ask for Help
Many of us are so proudly self-sufficient that we hide our weaknesses. But if someone enjoys doing something that you don’t, you might just be giving them a gift by letting them help you. You should also be on the lookout for those things YOU like to do, and how you can develop relationships with others by helping them out.
9) Tell a Friend
It’s simple: When you declare a goal to someone you care for, and you know they’re going to ask you about it, you’re much more likely to follow through. You become more accountable to yourself.
10) Prioritize Your Life
Here are some tough exercises which will help you identify what’s truly important: What would you want your obituary to say about your life? If you were laid up with a serious illness for 6 months, how would your perspective change? If your kids suddenly needed serious help, what would you do? These are hard questions, yes, but they help you to distinguish between the truly important and the luxuries. If you’ve been out of work for an extended period, no doubt you’ve traveled this scary path.
As you can see, I don’t tend to focus much on making lists, prioritizing tasks, and scheduling every minute of the day. Those are just tools. More important is to work on the larger picture of why you’re spending time the way you do, and to make adjustments at that level. Paradoxically, you’ll get more done just by being more tightly focused on the truly important things.
Then, if you need some tools to help you stay on track, fantastic. There’s plenty out there to get more done.
by Carl Dierschow