Are you looking for more time in your day?
Is it difficult to organize home, work, kids, spouse, friends, relatives and time away – all into one life?
You are NOT the only one! If WSOs* are any indication, every third sale is aimed at increasing your productivity.
The other two are usually aimed at “how to make money with little to no effort” and “how to make money in the offline market”.
I would imagine that all of us would like a couple of extra minutes in our day – or even an hour or two. Guess what? It IS possible!
You actually CAN have your cake and eat it too. A friend of mine once asked me if that was possible. . . I know it is, when you structure your day, stick to your plan and love the feeling you get when you sink into bed knowing that your business is humming, your kids are satisfied, your spouse is happy and your friends care about YOU. A balancing act to be sure – but attainable.
No time now to go into HOW to satisfy the kids, make your spouse happy and give back to your friends – more on that another time.
Today, I am going to focus on how to find extra time each day to accomplish exactly what you want and when you want, on your time schedule.
You won’t be able to find more time in your day if you don’t have a CLUE about where you are going and how you are going to get there.
This is a process and you know the drill. We have all read about goal setting –
Stretch yourself a little bit
Recorded (written down)
If you would like to read more about goals I recommend both a two page document from the University of Virginia Human Resources about SMART goals (nice worksheet) and Ali Brown’s post which gives a more in depth description of SMART goals.
It is incredibly important to WRITE these goals down. Most people don’t and they just drift, unsure of what they should do each day and frustrated with their current position in life. Michael Hyatt, Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers, describes the FIVE reasons why you MUST write down your goals.
At this point you must be thinking – I KNOW ALL THIS STUFF – how is THIS going to help me find more time in my day?
It will – believe me. Just read on to the end and when it all wraps up you’ll understand.
Once you know WHERE you are going (goals) you have to figure out HOW you are going to get there (tasks).
Map out the tasks you’ll need to accomplish to reach your goals. Even if you only know the first thing you have to do – write it down. You may not know each step that has to be done to win your particular race – but if you take that first step, the next steps often become visible.
Some people find Mind Mapping helpful to write out their tasks, while others like using a simple Action List. I prefer the Action List (NOT a ‘to do’ list – although the distinction is only in how it is received in your brain). Mind Mapping is great if you are mapping out the integration of several goals – I just keep a couple of Action Lists.
You know your goals
You have written your tasks
Here is the fun part. Now you find more time in your day because you know EXACTLY where you are going and HOW you are getting there.
Imagine yourself as a grain of wheat. You are surrounded by a hard shell, called ‘chaff’. In order to get the edible grain free from this shell, wheat is milled or pounded (also called threshing).
Today you are going to thresh out the shells in your day that are not productive and will not lead to the finalization of any task or goal. Once you are able to get rid of the chaff that produces nothing in your day, you will find more time to do the things that bring you joy.
I like that word JOY because it means something so much more than happiness. We find happiness in the moment, in a purchase, an event – a specific point in time. But JOY is deeper and more permanent. Doing things that bring you joy is lasting.
The following productivity improvements work ONLY if you address the first two criteria: goals and tasks. Without that information you will find more time in your day but you will not be more productive and will not accomplish anything more than if you continue along your merry way now.
Section your day. I know it sounds a bit like going back to school; waiting for the bell to ring so you can race outside to recess or the lunch room for that brownie mom packed this morning. BUT, sectioning your day into specific regions during which you do specific tasks WORKS.
Designate the morning or early afternoon for creative writing – pick whichever is the best time for you. Email should be opened TWICE during the day. Once in the morning to clear out whatever came in that you are NOT going to read and responses to any clients, customers or joint venture partners.
NOW CLOSE THE APPLICATION and do not open it again until the last thing in the evening – or after all your tasks for the day have been finished. If your calendar is in the email client, write down the times and things that you are doing that day. You’ll find that the simple task of NOT looking at email all day will increase your productivity and improve your ability to focus.
Do your hardest tasks (the ones you dislike the most) early in your day. The rest of your day will fly by when you have finished something you didn’t want to do, did it well and FEEL like you have already accomplished more than you anticipated. 🙂
Organize your day the night before. Write out an Action List of items you want to accomplish the following day. Do NOT overload your day with tasks – be sure you CAN finish the items. If you do put too much on the list because something takes longer than you anticipate, add it to your list for the following day.
In the morning, spend about 3 minutes at your desk, visualizing how your day will play out. SEE yourself going through each of your tasks and finalizing them successfully. Your mind will see you finished and successful, making the task itself easier than ever to achieve.
Record your progress each day. You have an Action List of items that must be accomplished to reach a goal, but you also need a record of where you have been. This can help you weed out the tasks that are not leading to an intended result.
Joe’s Goals is another method of using an Action List for tasks that you must accomplish each day, such as exercise, updating content or education. You can also assign a negative value if you do not finish the task or if you do something you shouldn’t have – like eating out instead of bringing lunch. You get a daily score that helps keep you focused and on track.
Insightly.com is a tool, that I personally use, which helps to keep me focused and organized. The best part for me is that I only visit the site once a week, it emails me reminders when I set it that way, my virtual assistants can have access to the site and only what I let them see (they don’t have access to all my projects) and it is free. It took me a while to figure the program out so I developed some video tutorials to walk through the process of installing the program on a URL you own, accessing the program and setting up projects.
Is your desk littered with sticky notes? Simple Note is a free application online that will help to reduce your desk clutter and keep you more organized. It also means that when you take your laptop, you have access to all of your notes too!
And last, but not least – do you have a website you waste WAY too much time on? Like – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or my favorite – Tetris? There is a cool free browser app called WasteNoTime that works with Safari and Chrome (at the moment) and Leechblock that works with Firefox. They each have slightly different functions. Basically, they allow you to lock yourself either out of the Internet for a specific period of time for focused work – OR will lock you out of a particular site after you have spent your allotted time. You pick the time you allow yourself, tell the application and it takes care of the rest.
You may have gotten to the end of this article, shaking your head and whispering (or shouting!) BUT I KNEW ALL THIS STUFF!!!
Then the answer is most definitely not in finding new systems, programs, applications, goals, or another electrical gadget – but rather the answer is in ACTION, APPLICATION, and FORWARD MOVEMENT.
In other words – if you know it, why aren’t you DOING IT?
P.S. Remember that the objective is to find more time to spend with family, friends, and in endeavors you enjoy – – – NOT to fill your Action List even further because you CAN get more done in the day!!!
*WSO = Warrior Special Offer on the Warrior Forum