Your time is limited, use it wisely. Here are 5 easy ways you can reclaim your time and make the most of what you have.
First Five Minutes
STOP - do not open your email it's a sure way to get caught in the proverbial rabbit hole before the day has even got going.
Take 3 deep breaths - it takes less than a minute but will centre and calm you. Starting your day off overwhelmed with your mind racing is a sure way to get distracted and lose track of what you do with your time.
Focus - with the next 4 minutes reviewing your plan or goals. Bring to the front of your mind where you are going. Priming is our brain’s way of helping us notice what’s important, by checking in on your plan or goals you get your brain ready to notice the things that will help and hinder your progress towards where you want to end up saving time along the way.
Make Conscious Decisions
STOP - Do not open your email, I know it’s hard but resist the temptation. Our emails make us reactive and create more overwhelm as we race to keep up with the never ending communication. We love our email because it feeds our need for attention. Lots of emails means we are liked, important, needed - right!?
Open your calendar - look at your day and the days following. What’s scheduled, what time do you have left? Get clear on the time you actually have available.
Create recurring meetings with yourself to do the necessary operational tasks like reconciling your accounts or creating your monthly newsletter. Whatever those key important items are schedule them in. This also means you need to decide how long you are going to spend on each task and gives you a much better idea of how much time you have left over.
Treat your inbox like your letter box - you would not check your letter box 20 times a day, you would not open all your letters and then leave them in your letterbox, and you would not expect an urgent task to be mailed out by post. Schedule time in your calendar to check your inbox, touching it only once in the inbox and deciding whether to do, dump, delegate or diarise a time to address it.
Your calendar will keep you honest about the time you have and the time you take.
Live Your Plan
Spend an hour a week looking at your business plan or goals and decide how to spend your coming week.
It is also a time to celebrate your wins and progress each week so don’t forget to find something to celebrate each week. ☺ Focusing on wins will help us to notice more wins and provide motivation to keep moving forward.
Your business plan can be updated (it is not set in stone) and each month you should spend an extra half an hour really considering it and making sure it is moving you towards your overall objective and goals. Don’t waste your time heading in the wrong direction.
Keep your plan updated and share a summary with your team, focus is a great way to eliminate time wasters.
During your planning time get really clear on the 5 or less things that you need to do in the coming week. They should be the things that you absolutely cannot finish the week without completing. It’s 5 or less because a clear and focused brain can work more efficiently than an overwhelmed one.
Your top 5 come from your business plan – what are the things that need to be actioned this week and they can also come from your ‘parking lot’ (the place you keep all your great ideas).
Write them as an outcome, not the actions you need to take but the result of those actions. For example, it would not be to train someone how to do something you would write ensure Mary can competently triage her emails. This is important because we want to focus on the outcome and not the small steps to ensure we get the result and not caught in the churn. With the outcome clear in your mind you will work through the smaller steps to achieve that outcome.
Value Your Time
You have 1440 minutes in each day - no more and no less, this is out of your control so accept it.
Learn how to say now without shame or guilt - your time is important and just because someone asks you does not mean you must comply. Yes we all want to be liked and it can be difficult, but think of it like this, saying yes this time will mean you need to say no to someone else or you will let someone down because you over committed.
Choose not to do something. We all take on tasks that we don’t really want to do and sometimes they don’t add much value. Simply cross it off the list - I don’t mean do it I mean dump it. Life is too short to waste your time on ineffective tasks that your heart is not in.
Systematise whatever you can - capturing how to do something means you never have to think about that again you can literally just follow the steps, updating as you need. Simple and clear systems can literally save your hours.
Choose to be finished - remember your time is valuable so be clear about what an acceptable standard is and be honest with yourself when enough is enough.