The idea of time management leaves me cold. I get anxious just at the mention of that phrase – I don’t have time for time management!
Much better – how to feel inspired, energised, motivated and more connected than ever before with your purpose and passion – but I guess that wouldn’t easily fit into a course manual.
Do you remember when you were a slave to the 9 to 5 mentality (but probably more like 8 til 6 in reality) if you worked for someone else. I confess I was once a clock-watcher. Towards the end of my corporate career I really couldn’t wait to get out of the door – a true sign that I wasn’t anywhere near living my purpose or passion.
Now, when my time really is my own, I realise I need structure in my day, but too much structure and planning is the death of my creativity. So, here are some tips to help you get more out of your day in order to feel inspired and connected.
1. Don’t react to your day, plan it thoughtfully
I see many business owners spending their time dealing with urgent trivia, while the meaty exciting stuff you really want to work on, is pushed aside. You spend so much time on daily tasks that you have no time to focus on the money-making visions and projects. This leads to a feeling over busy-ness and stress, but with few results.
You need to spend the most productive time of your day doing important work that is not usually urgent. These are commonly things that fit into the category of working ‘on’ your business, rather than ‘in’ your business.
Think of your day according to four key areas:
- Not urgent but important – Planning, goal setting, key project work, relationships, health and well being.
- Urgent and important – Other people’s last minute deadlines, a business crisis such as a law suit or tax issue, or a family or health crisis
- Urgent and Not Important – Some emails and phone messages, hardware problems (like the printer breaking down), other people’s requests
- Not Urgent and Not important – Washing, ironing, cleaning, Facebook surfing (not for business), watching TV
You should be spending most of your time in the ‘not urgent but important’ area. If you don’t, ‘the not urgent but important’ items will eventually fall into the ‘urgent and important’ area which is also called the heart attack zone.
2. Create some big goals to achieve within the next 90 days
Getting more out of your day is easier if you know where you want to go. Setting a goal is the first step to achieving more. Start by creating one personal and one business goal for the next 90 days. Then write a list of all the tasks you need to complete in order to reach each goal. Work backwards from 90 days to this moment and allocate tasks to complete each week. These now become the things to focus on each day in order to achieve your goal. It’s also important that when you reach your goal, you reward yourself in some way.
3. Prioritize all your tasks according to A, B, C and D.
Your 90 day goal tasks should be priority A because these are the things that are going to move you in the direction of your dreams. Spend your most productive times of the day working on priority A and B tasks and the low energy times dealing with C or D – or delegating those to someone else.
4. Play to your strengths
Everyone has peaks of energy, as well as times during the day that it’s difficult to concentrate. So set your day up to complete the most important project work during your peak energy times. It’s pointless attempting to work on something really important when you’re feeling tired and distracted – it will take you twice as long and the quality just won’t be there.
5. Do the most uncomfortable thing first
Author Brian Tracey in his book Eat That Frog recommends doing the most uncomfortable thing at the start of the day. The theory is that we ‘eat a frog’ – and the longer you stare at a frog, the harder it is to eat. This practice helps you crash through barriers and get those annoying and seemingly difficult tasks off the agenda, freeing up the rest of the day to be more productive.
6. Do check email early on, but don’t get sucked in
I always start my day with project work, and then spend 20 minutes dealing with emails before I start the breakfast run with my kids. It means I’m aware of anything that needs attention, but I don’t get sucked in to working on that when I’m at peak energy. I schedule time for emails late morning once the important tasks have been completed.
7. Do give yourself time and space to connect every day – it’s not wasted time it’s necessary
It’s so important to spend some time each day reconnecting with yourself. Taking a breath, going for a walk, being in the moment and releasing our thoughts. When we do this, we give ourselves the space necessary to come up with the brilliant ideas. Otherwise we are so busy, opportunities are passing us by.
8. Accept that every goal will have a bottle neck.
Once we’ve set our goals and begun working on the tasks necessary to achieve them, it’s inevitable that something will come up to seemingly prevent us from reaching the desired destination.
Know that is part of the process. See it as a bottle neck that you have to move through before things can really pick up speed. The faster you identify the bottlenecks and deal with them the faster you’ll succeed. Don’t let the bottle necks stop you from moving forward. Persist, and keep coming back to it until you succeed.