Whenever my workload is piled high and I start dropping balls, I silently wish for more time!
It makes me feel better in the moment. If time is the reason I’m behind, I don’t have to blame myself. But of course that strategy isn’t working so well for me - you probably feel the same way!
However much we want it or wish it, we’ll never get any more hours in our day. But that doesn’t make us powerless to the situation. You can’t create more time, but you CAN create the illusion that there’s more than enough minutes to do all the things that matter.
Which is exactly what the 10 simple strategies in this blog can help you do.
So get busy implementing and discover how you can work with time to get everything done, stay sane, AND fit in all the things you love.
1. Working harder is NOT the answer
Have you noticed that we live in a society that values hard work? We’re taught if we work hard at school and hard in our careers, we’ll get our rewards. This is belief is so rampant, working stupidly long hours has become a badge of honor!
But it’s a habit that steals fulfillment because it leads to burnout. Worst still, you don’t necessarily get any more accomplished.
You don’t have to work harder to get the life you want. Instead, you’ve got to learn how to get more out of each hour you have. This means figuring out how to work smarter - so you can get more done in less time.
Approach every day with this mindset and see how things shift.
Ask yourself how you can get the best results in the shortest amount of time. Be open to new ways of working and not only will you become more efficient, but you’ll create time to do it all.
2. Set goals
When your to-do list gets out of control, the days blend into each other and life feels as though it’s running away from you.
Goals provide a daily compass, which helps you prioritize and get clear on what’s most important to you.
With a goal, you’re less likely to take on things that don’t matter to your bigger picture ambitions. You’ll also find it easier to say no because it will be clear to you which opportunities are right for you - and which aren’t.
When your to-do list is influenced by goals, it’s going to be less cluttered. You’ll want to do more of the things you have to do and you’ll be more enthusiastic about your workload too. (Ever noticed how it’s far easier to plough through a ton of stuff when it’s things you enjoy?)
So use goals to focus your day, cut out the clutter, and make sure your time is spent wisely. You’ll feel in much more control as a result.
3. Use a planner
It’s great to be spontaneous, but if you have a pile of things to do, you can’t afford to leave your day to chance. An ad hoc day is never going to deliver the same level of productivity as a planned one.
So become a planner. Make it a habit to plan your day from start to finish. That way you’ll always know what you need to do, where you need to be, and how long you have for everything on your plate.
With a clear and realistic plan for your day, you can just crack on with making it all happen.
Clear targets will keep you focused (and motivated). You’ll have less decision fatigue because you’ll know in advance what you have to do. You’ll also feel in more control because instead of the day running you, you’ve taken control.
It’s a sure-fire way to get more done in less time.
4. Plan tomorrow, today
How long does it usually take you to get into the swing of the day?
You might be at your desk for 9am, but are you hitting the ground running or it is 20 minutes or longer before you’re really doing anything productive?
Finishing up your day planning for tomorrow means you can maximize your time to getting things done. Arrive at your desk with a clear plan of action and you won’t faff or drain your energy trying to decide what to do next.
Instead, you can get your head down and get that first task done and dusted in super quick time.
5. Schedule the things you don’t want to miss
Feeling guilty because you don’t spend quality time with your kids? Feeling out of shape because you never get to the gym? Eating food that doesn’t inspire you?
We’re all guilty of it!
In comparison, when was the last time you missed an appointment or a meeting that was scheduled into your planner?
When something is planned and diarized, it gets done. You make the rest of your day work around this commitment by planning everything else around the non-movable part of your day.
So why not apply this same principle to the things that matter most in your day (and your life)?
Schedule in that gym class. Turn play time with your kids into an appointment. Make cooking a date with yourself. This simple action will achieve two things:• Firstly, you’ll actually have time to do all the things (and you’ll feel so much better as a result!)
• Secondly, you’ll still get everything else done because your personal appointments will serve as deadlines that cultivate focus and motivation
6. Prioritize what’s on your plate
You know that that ridiculously long to-do list that’s stressing you out?
Take a look at that list again and be brutal with yourself.
What on that list absolutely MUST get done? And what can you ditch?
More often than not we take on way more than we need to (and more than we can cope with). But with limited time, you have to focus on what really matters and get in the habit of saying NO to the rest.
It can be hard, but you’ve got to give yourself permission to be more precious with the time you do have. So don’t feel guilty for saying no. Instead, use that 2-letter word as a tool that frees up your energy, time, and focus to work on the biggest levers.
You’ll get more done, finish earlier, and you’ll feel so much better about yourself as a result.
7. Don’t give tasks an open window
Deadlines are really good for getting things done!
When you’re up against a wall, somehow you dig that little bit deeper so you can pull it off. But that’s not all. As well as applying motivational pressure, deadlines also force you to finish a job in a realistic amount of time.
Without a timeframe for a task, Parkinson’s Law is going to make an appearance. This law says that work will expand to fill the time you give it (now you know why that blog, which should have taken a couple of hours, actually took all day!)
So use deadlines to drive efficiency. If no one has given you a deadline, give them to yourself. You’ll finish things quicker, freeing up time for all the things you don’t currently get a chance to do.
8. Use a timer
We squander so much time because we’re simply not aware of where it’s going.
It’s a little like a crazy shopping spree! When you’re handing over physical cash, you can see your purse getting lighter. But with a credit card, you don’t see the balance notch up - until it’s too late!
It’s the same with time.
If you’re not mindful of where your time is spent, it will slip through your fingers.
So get a timer in your productivity toolkit and use it to keep yourself accountable to time deadlines. It may be an old-school tool, but as far as productivity goes, it delivers huge results.
9. Empty your head
Just like your supply of willpower, your bandwidth is also finite.
You can’t maximize your productivity when your mind is full of unrelated thoughts. You need deep focus to do your best work, which is why it pays to empty your head onto paper.• Relying on your memory to remember your to-do list? Get it into a notebook instead.
• Worrying about something? Try journaling your way to a solution.
• Distracted thinking about a task you need to do (that you’d rather not do?) Either schedule time to do it, or get it out of the way now.
Do what’s necessary so you can focus fully on the task at hand. It’s a smart way of working that will help you get the job done quicker.
10. Own your wins (even the small ones)
When you never feel on top of your work, your confidence takes a knock. When you don’t have time for all the other things that are important to you, it’s hard to feel good inside.
The conversations you have about yourself have a huge impact on your performance, your productivity, and your self-esteem. So get more aware about how you speak to yourself.
Are you your biggest fan or your worst enemy! Do you beat yourself up when things go wrong, or do you encourage yourself to find a different way? If you believe your best is never good enough, you’ll soon lose motivation. You may even tell yourself ‘why bother?’ [And what’s that going to do for your productivity?]
In comparison, tell yourself you’ve done a good job and consistently acknowledge your achievements (no matter how small), and you’ll spark even more motivation to keep going.
Yup, mindset matters a lot when it comes to making the most of your time.
You can’t get more time!
But you CAN get more from your time.
All it takes is a few simple tweaks and you can transform your daily output. So train yourself to work smarter to make your time go further. Not only will you stay on top of your workload, but you’ll free up more time for the things that you love.
It’s the key to a happier life :-)