For those of us who have more to do than we have time for, this is for us. A daunting to-do list is a burden over your head and a packed schedule is stressful. I hope these tips will help you decide which things are most important to you and work out a way to make them successfully fit in your life!
1 | Chart out your day the night before & give your tasks time amounts.
If you haven't yet, read my post on The Power of Planning. Taking just a few minutes at the end of everyday to chart out your next will make you 100% more successful than if you didn't! For one, you can't start on time if you don't know what time to start. Secondly this is key to being realistic - understanding what will really fit into your day and what you need to bump to later on in the week. Weed out those things that you don't have time for & focus on what's a priority to you. Don't worry, free-spirits, you don't have to map out every second of your day - just make sure you write down the important stuff that you want to accomplish and decide how they will fit into the day. If you want, you can somewhat memorize it and then forget about it. I know for me, things like exercise and cleaning don't get done if I don't give them their own spot in the week. It could look something like this.
7 am | Workout/ start laundry
8 am | Breakfast/ dinner prep
9-12 | Start work: Finish research for this weeks project
12 | Lunch break/ write thank-you letters
1 | Work: Create a detailed outline for this weeks project
3 | Clean
5 | Start dinner
Assign specific goals within tasks// Along with giving your tasks time allotments, give your work-time specific goals as well. Identify where you need to be when you're finished. This will make your time more focused and therefore productive.
Breaks// I often need a proper break between long portions of focused work. So if you don't want to add a task to lunch break, that may be more beneficial to you. See this post for good tips on breaks.
2 | Be Realistic
There's never enough time in the day! - We've all said that. And it's true, there's always more to do than there is time to do it! That's why prioritizing is so important. Spending a few minutes planning will help you to be realistic. Try to be realistic about how much time it will actually take you to get out the door and allow yourself time to wake up in the morning before rushing out. Be realistic about how much you can get done within in your energy and not just your time. See my post about maximizing your energy here. And realize that your mind, body and spirit need time to re-energize everyday!
3 | Get Started On Time!
This may be one of the most important productivity tips and one of the hardest as well! Often when we're procrastinating we stall and if we don't make a plan we will definitely be more apt to waste time. Whether you follow your plan or not - getting started on time at the beginning of the day will head-start your productivity wildly! For this reason, it may be a good idea to plan to start your day with an activity that you enjoy or is an easy task. Once you've completed one thing, chances are the productivity ball will be rolling and will influence the rest of your day! You may not even need your plan anymore. Starting late often leaves you feeling bad, rushed and frustrated, sometimes for the whole day, so try your hardest to get to sleep on time and get started on time!
4 | Focus & Obey Your Time Allotments
I just read this fantastic article about What Happened When I Moved My Company To A 5 Hour Workday and I couldn't agree more! He notes that, in every office, he's often felt, there are just a few people who do three times the work of everyone else. He decided to find these individuals to work for him by making a 5 hour workday for the same salary you'd receive doing eight, but requiring the same output. He found those employees and concluded that by trimming your workday down to five hours, time management comes baked into the pie, forcing high-value activities to take priority.
One reason why we take longer to complete a specific task than we need is because we don't have a plan and also because our time is not focused. The 5-hour workday theory, pertains specifically to knowledge workers. Hand-tasks, although they can be streamlined, really do take a specific amount of time. If your task is something that is a knowledge-task, decide how long you want to spend on the activity and what you need to accomplish when you're done. This will help you to do focused thinking and weed out non-priority interruptions. It will force you to streamline the things that can be and decide what is the best way to spend your time. Decline things like non-priority meetings. And for the most part, try not to multi-task during each focused segment. If you get to the end of your time and you're not finished, you can 1. decide if you want to spend longer on it if your next task is a lower priority or 2. move on and come back to it later. As you keep doing this you will get better at planning how long you need to do something and completing the task in less time.
5 | Streamline
Try to streamline anything that happens regularly and is simple. This can include household chores, data entry, email, filing, customer communication, shopping and personal finances. Keep it simple by making a regular time for it and not letting it pile up. If you allow things like to email and phone calls to distract you each time you get one you'll have to refocus every time. Create a time to address each and power through them all at once. Streamlining may also mean seeking help and delegating.
Here's an example of streamlining from my last post: Spend 10 minutes every week during your 30 minutes of planning time to plan your meals and have a list ready for the grocery store. Then designate a weekly time to get groceries. - Maybe around another time that you're already out, etc. This prevents making multiple trips to the store and the stress of coming up with dinner at 5 pm every day. Designate a day for laundry too - make it known to your family and have them all bring their laundry to the laundry room on that day - maybe start a load the night before and have it sorted before morning so you can get started right away. Make it your goal to get everything done and put away by the end of the day - but if not, let it fall to the end of the week "important/ non-priority" time. You can do the same thing with cleaning, appoint it a day of the week (or every other week) and give it a time slot (3-5pm every Tuesday) so that you ensure it gets done but you'll have to ignore your desire to deep clean your china hutch until later because you've got a time limit. When routine tasks are dragged out they become an unnecessary burden hanging on your mind. There are tons of ways to streamline important but non-priority tasks that happen all of the time and it will help them from taking over your life.
6 | Give Yourself Time To Rest/ Time To Yourself
You'll be your most productive if you have energy. Remember that you need time to rest your mind, body and spirit in order to perform at your best. So yes, give yourself an excuse to make time to yourself. Maybe that is hard for you to do in this season of life (perhaps you're a mother ;)). I'd recommend though, if you can make it happen, to have at least 1-3 hours of time to yourself every week. Do something that is nurturing to you, paint your nails, get outside and refresh your senses, take a run! Take time to rest a little bit everyday. Set a time to step away from your tasks and enjoy time relaxing (with your family) everyday.
Good Luck! Know that who you are is more important than what you do and your value is always set in the loving eyes of your Creator. All my love,