Time, time, time… it’s the one thing we always wish we had more of. And something we are constantly telling ourselves we don’t have enough of. Yes, I know you’ve been there… you know this one, don’t you. So do I! So what can you do about it? Here’s my top tips for building supportive habits relating to time.
1. Get clear: Step one is about truly getting clear on what exactly it is you have to do. Take some time to write it all down (paper, computer, iPhone, iPad, tablet… whatever you like, just WRITE IT ALL DOWN). And when I say all, I mean ALL. Just let it all out, release it onto the page in whatever form you like. Get it out of your head and onto the page… ahhhh… doesn’t that feel better already?
2. Prioritize: Next, put that list in order. Prioritize it from top to bottom, putting those most urgent and important ones at the top, and ranking the rest of them down underneath…. I can feel the weight shifting off your shoulders as I write!
3. Schedule it: One of my favourite mottos is “If it’s not in the diary, it doesn’t exist”. Take your diary and schedule your list. Make time in your diary do each of the items on the list, otherwise it just won’t get done. Don’t use a diary? I strongly recommend you get one.
I used to be like that, I never needed to write things down. I remember everything, or at least most things. It’s just the way I am programmed. But, once I started using a diary, and entering every appointment or meeting, and creating space in my diary for those tasks I had put on the long finger, I found I was far more productive, and started powering through the To-Do list, and not just the urgent and important items! I also found that it freed up space in my mind to be oodles more creative. I was far more prepared and creative in meetings, and my productivity levels increased. I use a combination of google calendar and the calendar on my iPhone – but they are synced, so essentially they are all in one place, and totally backed up. That’s key – make sure you only have ONE diary. Keep it all in one place, whether thats a paperback form or an electrical form. TIP: if you can, try the electrical form, because you can’t lose it. What happens when you lose your paperback diary? Eeek!
4. Manage distractions: This one is a killer, and so difficult to master. I would say this is my weakest link in the chain. How are you with distractions? You know, things like Facebook, Twitter, Email, Pinterest, SMS messaging… the list goes on. These are major distractions. I find, the only way to deal with all of them is to schedule them, just like all of the other activities, schedule time to check your email and social media. You do not need to be available every minute of the day to your email and social media audience. (unless of course you work in a job, where responding to customer emails, for example, IS your job!) They can be at regular intervals during the day, if needs be, but close them when you are working on something else. Otherwise, you will be tempted to lose focus on the current task and let the distractions eat up the time allocated to something else.
5. DO it: Take action. Who here likes to procrastinate? Oh yes, this one is a doozie! You don’t want to do it, or it seems to big and complex to do, or some other excuse you find to postpone getting stuck into it. Stop… no really, STOP. All that time and energy wasted thinking up excuses to let yourself off the hook and not ‘do it’ would be far better spent getting on with it. And, bonus, you feel so much better once you take some action on that big, epic, complex task, right? Just do it!
6. Stop telling yourself “I don’t have time”. If that’s what you are telling yourself in your head repeatedly, then that will become your reality. You believe it, so it is. Try changing that thought to something less limiting, like “I am in control of my time. I have enough”. Lao Tzu had a thoughtful quote on this: “Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to”.
So what are you waiting for? No time like the present 🙂
My challenge for you? Get clear, get scheduling – and make it a habit!