Wishing you could maximize your time doesn’t change anything. Taking some actual steps to change your approach to time will. Get your mindset right and leveraging time gets much easier.
It happens to people all the time. You get to the end of the day and think, “I worked hard all day and didn’t get anything done.” What happened? I believe you were distracted by bright shiny objects, people and things. The distractions that keep us from working on what will help us achieve our goals.
Get more of the right things done.
Getting more of the right things done will require a little bit of hard work up front. Figuring out what you want and creating habits are not easy but the result is that you’ll feel less used up at the end of the day, everyday. So, worth it.
What is your desired outcome? Doing focused work, and the sense of accomplishment you feel by getting the right thing done, requires a plan and then acting on that plan. You will notice that things take less time overall when you have a plan and a list.
Figure out how long tasks really take. Most of us under and over estimate the time required for tasks. This messes up all the planning and doing. Factor in the prep and clean up time, too. Realistically, you can’t clean a garage in a day and expect to get anything else done.
Create routines for the tasks necessary to maintain home, family and work. Routines allow you to become more efficient and build strong habits through the practice and repetition of the steps. That means stuff gets done quickly and easily, freeing you up for more important things on your list.
Stop doing stuff that doesn’t matter. By establishing your own version of “good enough,” you eliminate many of the extra tasks in your day. The world will not end if you don’t pre-treat stains; and you will free up several minutes to plan a trip.
Stop complaining. I watch people expend more effort and time trying to get out of doing something than it would take to complete the thing in the first place.
There are some really easy ways to get more done in less time.
You can start using them right away while continuing to work on the hard stuff.
When used over time these will provide exponential time saving, time that can be used for something else.
Here are 5 of my favorites:
- Have the right tools to do the job on hand. If you put them back where they live, they are right where you need them when you need them now. The right tools can also speed up the job while you are doing it. You could spend several minutes trying to pry open the stubbornly glued bag of chips, or you could just grab the kitchen shears and cut it open cleanly in a couple of seconds.
- Batch your tasks. Batching your tasks allows you to reuse the tools, find a rhythm and crank out the work. When you are calling a bunch of clients about joining your next program it will be faster to make several calls in a row. Making a single call can take several minutes to gather your wits, find the number and locate the information you want to share. By making several in a row, you can save the prep time between each one.
- Set a timer. The illusion that time expands and contracts to fit the task can be put to the test if you set a timer and give yourself just that amount of time to do the next thing on your list. I like to race myself to see just how much I can squeeze into 30 minutes. Once a day, for 30 minutes I crank through a bunch of the little stuff on my list.
- Pre-prep things. Set up 3 weeks worth of newsletters every 2 weeks and soon you will have a stockpile to use while you are on vacation. Make an extra batch of spaghetti sauce and freeze it for those times you are short on time. In both cases all you need to do is add the finishing touches and you are done.
- Pick the essential first. What are the tasks needed to achieve your outcome? Is there one task that by doing it will make the most impact? Either making other tasks easier or irrelevant? These tasks will help leverage your time. Set up a focus time block to get these things done.
Practice these until they become habit and you might save several weeks this year.
You can save even more time by seeing if you can delegate some of your work.
To be an effective delegator, you need to let go of perfectionism. Of course you could do it better, in a perfect world, and if you had the time. But you don’t. So remember the ultimate goal is to feel less overwhelmed, not perfection.
Delegation is a communication skill. It requires clarity of thought and intention for it to be successful. You know, a little planning goes a long way in getting things done.
I know a master delegator. We go to her house for dinner and a couple of minutes later, someone has been dispatched to the grocery store buying ingredients, someone is setting the table and someone is whipping the cream for dessert.
Not once do I recall thinking, “Oh no, dinner isn’t ready.” Everyone thought, “Well, that was fun.”
This story – yes it’s true – highlights several of the secrets to being able to delegate and therefore feeling less frazzled.
Know what “done” looks like, to you. Then establish your own standards and expectations. If your spouse helps by doing the dishes but doesn’t wipe down the counter, is he done? Have you suggested to him (or her) that wiping down surfaces and gathering the drinking glasses from around the house is part of the process.
Create a place for everything in your home or office. This enables others to help you. Now instead of answering a question with, “Oh never mind, I’ll just do it myself,” you can say, “It’s in the left cabinet, dear,” and continue with what you were doing.
Turn everything into a group activity, and then provide the space and direction. Others can do it fine if you let them. It might be different from how you would do it, but it will get done. The bonus is you will have more time for creativity and fun.
Create checklists for routine things you can delegate. Checklists are great because they can be adjusted easily as things change, and they help the delegator check up on the progress of the project without requiring a lot of communication.
The one delegated to gets to do the job with fewer questions when there is a set of steps to follow. They get more efficient and build habits too.
Now, go show your kids how to fold and put away the laundry. Then show your assistant how to update your social media. Next week, they’ll be doing it instead of you.