Many of us woke up today excited that spring is around the corner and probably a little groggy and cranky that we lost an hour of sleep due to Daylights Savings Time. When I woke up, I turned on my TV and the movie Groundhog Day was playing. I grabbed my phone, dropped it to the floor, and then the Rolling Stones song, “Time Is On My Side” automatically started playing from my iTunes.
Was this a wakeup call and reminder for me? I think it was. I was just complaining last night about not having enough time.
Although I do believe that time is irrelevant, I seem to have slipped back into the mode that I needed more time. I know many of us feel that we need more than 24 hours in the day to get things done. Or we tell our friends that we are so tired from running around. Especially those of you who are like my family with two kids. We are always going in 100 different directions. We also wonder how people seem to get things done and do it with such ease. After coming to my senses, I recalled my time management techniques that enable you to get anything done and have time to spare.
Here are the six key things I do to allow for enough time:
1. Set And Track Daily, Weekly, Monthly Goals
Get rid of your “To Do” lists. They just don’t work. You must set daily, weekly, and monthly goals to be successful. The goals you set are what you track. You create specific meaningful action items for each goal to achieve it. What gets measured and tracked usually gets accomplished. Instead of looking at email or social media when I first wake up, I am looking at my goal sheet and then I review the previous day’s work to see where I landed with my goals. I track every goal. Social media presence is a huge goal of mine, and I manually track the number of posts each day. It may sound like a huge amount of work, and it takes about 10 to 15 minutes in the morning to review and track my progress. When I first started doing this tracking, it took a little more time, and once you get into a groove, its second nature and becomes fun to see where you landed.
2. Remain Focused
Keeping your focus is a huge part of the battle to have time to get things done. I review my goals first thing in the morning, around mid-day (lunch time), and at the end of the day. This repetitive review keeps me focused on the important things, and ensures I do not get sidetracked during the day. You must watch for daily distractions that come up. Someone is going to call you for help or a crisis arises. Maybe even a few crisis arise. You still want to help and need to in those situations, but you have to make sure that it is truly an urgent request, and not someone wanting to just talk. Even when I have coffee meetings, I am always asking my colleague or friend at the start of the meeting: what is our outcome? That will set the tone to ensure you stay on track and do not lose time.
I do not like most work meetings. They are a time killer. When I run a meeting, I have a set agenda with times. And if the meeting is an hour, I run the agenda section for 50 minutes. If someone has a topic, it must be completed in the allotted time. If the topic requires further discussion, then a break out meeting occurs. You cannot keep going past the time in the meeting. This gives the team time to review the action items from the meeting and agree to the next steps. You will avoid the syndrome: another meeting to have another meeting.
3. Delegate Tasks
Delegating tasks is an area that is hard to do for many people. We don’t like to bother others, and we feel that it will get done right if we handle it ourselves. I used to think that way. In business or your personal life, you must always be delegating things. Delegation gives you the freedom to work on other important things. In business, I learned to delegate some simple tasks to my staff. This allowed them to grow, and it gave me the time to focus more critical issues. My managers would always say that my teams would get more done in such a short amount of time. The same is true in your personal life. For those of us with kids, they need to be doing chores. It’s that simple. Or if you do not have a family, you should have a network of friends that can help you. As much as I enjoy cutting my grass, I have a lawn service. That gives me 90 minutes of time back each week. In business, you tell your team that you need them to handle a particular task. Never ask them, just tell them, give them the instructions, and have them report back to you at given time frames. So many people ask their kids if they want to help. We do not ask our kids to clean up or help with the laundry. We explain to them what we need done. Once you get past the fearfulness of reaching out to someone to delegate, it will become easier.
4. Get Up Earlier
We always have good intentions to get up early. We hit the snooze button so many times that we could have gotten up at least four or five times by the time we do get up. Getting up an hour earlier is a huge way to get things done. You have more time. And while many are still sleeping, you are getting so much accomplished. It’s a great way to get ahead and stay ahead. About a year ago, I started putting my phone three feet from my bed so I would actually have to get up and turn the alarm off. This change has allowed me to get up earlier. Sure there are days where I hit the snooze, but they are few and far between. Getting up earlier does mean that you should still get a reasonable amount of sleep. I looked at what I was getting done at night, and it was not a huge amount of productivity. My cut off time at night used to be 11:30 p.m. Now, it is 10:30 p.m. And I wake up at 4:30 a.m., which is six hours of sleep. This change has allowed me to experience new levels of accomplishment and success.
5. Eat Good And Hydrate Yourself
You might not think it, but eating right and keeping yourself hydrated plays a big part in getting things done and having time. If you do not eat right and keep yourself hydrated properly, you can get sluggish, and something that could have taken an hour, might take you two hours. You lose time! I was never big on eating good food. I was always a take out guy, and loved the fried food. I enjoyed having a big lunch too. When I was working, I would get tired or feel like I needed a pick me up. So I would go for the candy bar or soda! That was a great way to get an hour of productivity, but I would be quickly drained and lose productivity. Several years ago, I changed my diet completely. There are days where I can splurge a little. Friday is my take out day, and for Monday through Thursday, I packed my lunch and healthy snacks. I also drink plenty of water. I drink at least three bottles of water during the day while working.
6. Eliminate The Waste
I think this area is one of the biggest areas people struggle with. We are so caught up in checking our social media and email that we spend hours each day doing that. We are also caught up in blaming everyone else for the lack of time that we do not take the time to evaluate the things we are doing that do not serve us. We do these things because they are much easier than focusing on the task at hand. We get lazy. Spending time on social media makes us feel good. Creating blame and excuses makes it easy to throw away responsibility for our actions. Every week, I am always looking at eliminating wasteful things. I spend about 15 minutes each Sunday asking myself one simple question. Does this task or action item help me get closer to achieving my goals or are they wasteful? If I identify it as a waste, I get rid of it in that moment. It’s gone! I trained myself to delete the wasteful task or action item immediately to ensure there is no going back. I have cut back significantly on my social media. About a year ago, I was easily on social media for three hours a day. Even as an entrepreneur, I set specific goals and times I post and spend reviewing social media. There are also plenty of tools out there to help.
If you practice these five key items, you will have much more time to do the things you need to do.