NOTE: This article goes along with the June 18, 2013 podcast: WAKE UP! Work it! Work it Gooood… (Scroll to the bottom of this page to listen.)
Over the years I have found that productivity can be an elusive bugger! Sometimes, by the end of the day, I am exhausted, stressed out, and completely wiped. I feel like I have run myself ragged, like a chicken with its head cut off.
To make it even worse, if I’m being honest with myself, despite all of the “busy-ness” I feel like I got nothing done! The feeling I am left with is a little hollow to say the least…
Great time management means being effective as well as efficient.
Often I find myself busier than a one-legged fool in an ass-kicking contest and feel as if I am going in a hundred different directions.
Over the years, I have learned how to play into my strengths and manage my time in an efficient, effective manner. In order to do so, I try to keep these sanity-savers in mind daily:
#1. Urgent vs Important – Know the Difference…
Great time management means being effective as well as efficient. Managing time effectively and accomplishing what you set out to achieve, means spending your time on the tasks and issues that are important and not just urgent. In order to do this and minimize the stress of having too many tight deadlines, it is of primary importance to be able to distinguish between the two:
- Important activities have an outcome that lead to the achievement of your goals, whether these are professional or personal.
- Urgent activities demand immediate attention and are often associated with the achievement of someone else’s goals. Unfortunately, urgent activities are often the ones we concentrate on, they demand attention because the consequences are immediate and inescapable.
If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail! -Benjamin Franklin
#2. Start with the end in mind.
Know what the outcomes are of your day/week/month/year before you start taking action. Those who fail to plan, plan to fail. Every Monday morning I break projects into individual tasks that can be completed in 30-60 minutes max. Then, I make two fresh to-do lists: Important and Urgent
#1 – Important tasks are the ones that will have an immediate impact on my life and business. I knock these out first.
#2 – The second list has everything else that needs to get done for the week. This list includes doing things for others, catching up on emails, paying bills, meetings, administrative tasks, etc.
My goal is to knock out 3-5 Important items off of my list each Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. (I don’t pencil any items in for Thursday in case I am running behind.) Thursday and Friday are my days to catch-up and take care of the Urgent items and “busy” type work.
#3. Eliminate distraction.
Multi-tasking doesn’t work. Can a professional golfer, surfer, tennis player, or race car driver surf the net, check social media feeds, and afford to be distracted while trying to play at the top of his or her game? If you are anything like me, you can only do one thing at a time well; you prefer leaving the endless notifications, chimes, reminders, beeps, and vibrations for the scatter-brained…
#4. Leave room for “life” to happen.
I fill only 60% of my calendar daily; I leave 20% available for spontaneity, and 20% as a reality (kid, dog, car, etc.) buffer. This tip alone will transform your days by reducing unplanned, time-zapping headaches into minor, scheduled tasks. Once you grasp the cardinal importance of this and allow yourself some space for surprises, you will be amazed how much easier life becomes. No one wins a battle against Father Time, you can only work with him…
#5. Don’t be attached to the “linear” order of things.
I tend to do my best work when I am having fun. I try to be flexible with my schedule, plans, and lists. I’m willing to move things around as needed. If I don’t get done today what I intended to, no biggie; I take a deep breath, go for a walk in the morning and hit the reset button. Building a business (or life) is a marathon and no game is ever won or lost in one moment or opportunity. It’s what you do consistently over time that has a compounding effect, not what’s done under the gun…
#6. MILK IT BABY!
If you find yourself in an inspired state or creative “groove” stay in it as long as you possibly can. Creativity and inspiration are the dew of the Gods’, in my honest opinion, and not to be taken for granted. The creative process can be fickle, so it’s best to give it room to breathe and happen organically. If invention is the mother of necessity, then creativity is the daughter. We all have vast creative abilities but few of us ever truly nurture it, cultivate it, or allow it the time and space to blossom naturally.
#7. Pace yourself.
Set attainable day-to-day goals. Know your limits. No one will ask, “How long did it take?” They’ll ask, “Who did it?!” Do this and you will achieve the impossible over the long term. (My dad taught me this…)
#8. Transfer unfinished tasks to the following day without regret.
There is always tomorrow… As long as you did your absolute best today, you will rest peacefully tonight. No one can make you feel bad for a job well done. Rome was not built in a day my friend. I remind myself of this daily.
#9. Learn to say “NO” with finesse.
Spreading myself too thin is a bad habit that always bites me in the ass… not looking out for Numero Uno serves no one in the end. People will respond positively to your self-imposed boundaries and assertiveness. They will respect you for having the foresight to demand it… It exudes self-assurance and is inspiring to others.
#10. Keep on keepin’ on…
Keep working at your plan each and every day. Remind yourself daily that time is on your side. Don’t be attached to how long it takes, rather be attached only to the eventual outcome. Don’t worry about how you’ll attain it, just that you get it.
#11. Have fun – for goodness’ sake!
Last but not least, have fun! Enjoy the process as much as you can… Seriously, nothing is worth doing if you don’t love what it is that you do.
As always, let me know your comments and thoughts… Share some of the daily reminders you use to keep yourself on target, productive, happy, and fulfilled!
P.S. You have my permission to use, repurpose, or distribute any (or all) parts of this article. I would appreciate a link back to this post, but it’s not required. Thanks 🙂