Have you ever thought that there aren’t enough hours in the day? Do you struggle to get everything done? Do you get overwhelmed by the tasks you need to do and the (lack of) time you have to do them?
Here’s the good news.. If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you are in the right place!
Now for the bad news. You can’t manage time.
Time happens. It ticks along regard- less of what you are doing and you can never get more of it. There are countless books, courses and systems about time management. They are all mislabelled.
In reality none of them are about managing time. They are about managing choices. They are about priorities.
Making better choices can lead us to feeling like we are making better use of our time.
Here are 7 hacks (or tips) to help you.
#1 – Know Your Outcomes
How clear are you on the outcomes you want to create? What are your long term ambitions? What do you want (or need) to achieve in the short term? Why those specific outcomes? What is it that is driving you to achieve them?
Get clear on those outcomes, write them down and read them often. This will help you to make better decisions and take necessary actions to move you forward.
#2 – Focus on the Fundamentals
Once you are clear on your outcomes, what are the core, fundamental tasks that need to happen to create them? This are most likely things that need to become habits.
Often they are small things that need to happen on a consistent basis. They are the tasks that build momentum and confidence.
Note: they may not be the easy or exciting tasks, but they will be critical to your success.
#3 – Learn to Say ‘No!’
Just as important as knowing which task to focus on, is knowing which ones to reject. There will always be exciting distractions. We can all get pulled towards a ‘shiny new thing’. We can also let other’s people’s priorities get in the way of our own.
Jim Rohn said: “Learn how to say no. Don’t let your mouth overload your back.”
Are those things you are thinking about saying yes to a good fit with the outcomes you are trying to create?
If it’s not a “hell yes” then it should probably be a “hell no”.
Don’t waste time on the wrong things.
Peter F Drucker observed: “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”
#4 – Schedule
In the words of Stephen Covey: “The key is not to prioritise what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities”
Make an appointment in your calendar to work on your priority actions. Make the detail of the appointment specific and give enough time to make sure you can get the tasks done.
Ring fence these appointments. They are critical to your progress. It may not seem like a big deal if you need to reschedule them, but trust me when I say you will end up regretting it if you do.
#5 – Get Support
This could be thinking about who you could delegate or outsource too. It might be finding a coach or a mentor to help you. It could even be finding people (or systems) that you can model.
Chances are that whatever the outcome you are trying to create, there is somebody that you can learn from. Be open to the benefit of other people’s experience.
More than anything, remember that whilst you may have to do things for yourself, you rarely have to do them alone.
#6 – Plan Some Time Off
Remember the last time you went away on holiday? How much more productive were you in the few days before you left?
Deadlines focus the mind.
When you’ve known you would ‘run out of time’, what strategies and techniques did you use? What exactly did you do to make you more effective and focused?
Can you repeat them?
Seriously, don’t just act like you are taking some time out. Plan that break and take it too. You will be hyper productive before you go AND recharged, ready to go again when you get back!
#7 – Bookend Your Days
Start your days with critical tasks. Not the easy, fun ones. The ones that HAVE to happen if you want to make progress. Knowing they are done will put you in a better state of mind for the rest of the day too.
When it gets to the end of the day, tidy up. Box things off. Make a plan for tomorrow morning’s critical tasks. Get things ready for the new day and then switch off.
Make a commitment to yourself to bookend your days and always stick to it.
In his book ‘Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life… And Maybe the World’, William H. McRaven says:
“Making my bed correctly was not going to be an opportunity for praise. It was expected of me. It was my first task of the day, and doing it right was important. It demonstrated my discipline. It showed my attention to detail, and at the end of the day it would be a reminder that I had done something well, something to be proud of, no matter how small the task.”
We all need to keeping commitments to ourselves (no matter how small). They are a reminder that we are making progress.