Is there a way to master your time when you have more to do than you have time? How many times you have made a to-do list and then didn’t update it? Chances are you often ignore it (or destroy it) simply because seeing how much should be done can feel so overwhelming.
I bet you know that feeling – we’ve all been there. You are busy all day but at the end of it you feel a bit disappointed. You got distracted a million times and didn’t do the most important things from your list. Why? Because most of us, using the words of Tony Robbins, major in minor things. We lose focus and motivation. It’s a downward spiral from there… but there is also an easy way out!
Before I get to the solution, think about time. How can you leverage whatever you have left? It’s often intuitive to use your time to save money, however it can be counterproductive if someone else can do it for you – and you can do something that benefits you more in the meantime.
That’s why rich people get richer, and poor people often get poorer – your time is your greatest asset so use it well!
One idea I had from a young age was to ask for help. When I was a student and didn’t have a lot of money I would teach business English – and make 3 times more an hour than I paid my cleaning lady. She would come for 4-5 hours and leave the apartment spotless, and I would make money in the meantime. It felt so good to know that I can invest my time where it’s worth more. After all we’d all love to do more but then we have no energy left to do what matters most!
Back to time management – what’s the solution? Challenge your thinking. Maybe it’s not about getting things done that should fulfill you – we’ll never have enough time to do EVERYTHING we’d like to do. What if you chose to do things you really want to do, those that bring the biggest return on time invested? Become strategic and focused to go after things that will take your life – in any area you choose – to the next level. Here is how in 3 steps.
Step 1: Capture & Categorize
Create a list of all the things you need to do. The point is to get it all out of your head. Whenever you think about something that needs to be done (while driving, falling asleep, being in a meeting) – write in down. Declutter your mind.
Make sure it’s in one place – whether it’s one of so many apps out there, your phone, a draft email in your inbox, a google drive document, a calendar – this way you always know where to go.
Take a couple of minutes to write them down. Chances are you’ll have anywhere from 20 to 50 items or so. Everything goes – unpaid bills, laundry, career change, a date with your friend. I know that when you do this you actually feel more overwhelmed, but it will only last for a moment.
The thing is that most of us stop here – and feel totally stressed out and out of control. Yet it’s only the beginning of your time and energy management so stay put.
Now, see how do those things relate to each other. Create headlines such as carrer, family, work & business, personal, etc. – and group them together. You’ll end up with a couple of shorter lists and gain more clarity on what needs to be done.
Step 2: Plan & Prioritize
I have a question for you.
What 20% of actions will give you 80% of results?
What will move you closer to your goal? Highlight those items. You need to be strategic, otherwise you won’t move out of the reaction mode where you do whatever feels easier in a given moment instead of doing what would benefit you most.
Take an honest look at your list and ask yourself:
What do I really want today / this week for myself, my career, my relationships?
What’s the result I want? What’s my purpose?
Put them in order of importance. What’s the 20% of the list that gives the biggest outcome? They should become your MUST items.
- Let’s imagine you had a couple of actions under your career section: update my CV, contact head hunters, apply for 3-5 jobs, connect with contacts from my network who can support my career change.
- What’s the result you want? It could be: I want to make at least 10% more doing something more challenging.
- What’s your purpose for doing that? I want to travel more / buy an apartment / better support my family / etc. while growing in my professional life.
Step 3: Delegate
At this point you are still left with a lot to do. What’s tricky about this part is that those things drain you and you don’t see how they benefit you so you postpone doing them – such as paying your taxes, cleaning your apartment or organizing your wedding – but they could be very urgent.
Can you hire someone to help you? You don’t need full time help, it could be a day a week / a month. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have an assistant to do all of that for you?
If you do, the key is to make sure they understand why – and how – those things need to be done to avoid being disappointed. Ideally you want to check with them before things need to be done that they are on track. This will make you feel so much lighter. Even if you don’t make a lot of money you can still afford it – so many students out there looking for experience.
Now you are ready to go. Start your day with your priorities. This way, even if you are interrupted as you surely will, your chances of following through and taking your life in the direction of your dreams are so much higher.