How many times do you end your day with this thought: “Wow I didn’t get anything done” – even though you were busy all day! So what’s going on that causes you to never actually get to your massive to-do list?
Obviously your day ran you, instead of you running your day.
Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us. You probably got interrupted with a billion issues – clients called, your team had questions, something blew up and you had to deal with it. Even if you got much better at managing unplanned interruptions, you’d still end up with a to-do list that doesn’t get finished.
What if you could liquefy time and magically make your days longer? Especially when you feel behind? Well there are a few little shifts in how you see time that can actually change how you use it.
Here’s a few of the ways that I activate “liquid” time to get more done (especially when the task list just seems impossible!)
Make a Clear Decision On Your “Work Time”
The first thing you have to do is create a new standard for your life – how many hours a day are you really going to work? What’s best for your stress level? Your other priorities like family and community? Listen, there will always be more work that there is time to get things done. When you decide to have a life outside of work, then magically, you’ll become better at saying NO to distractions and YES to your priorities.
The key is creating a clear boundary around your work time and your personal life. For instance, “I leave work at 6:00 pm no matter what” is a boundary that helps you and the people in your life know when you are available for work activities. Be sure to close the office door and turn off email when its time to be “off” work.
Upgrade Your Self Talk
The words and thoughts in your mind have a huge impact on how stressed out you feel. We create messages to ourselves and others about how overwhelmed we are. If you tell yourself you are running out of time then the stress you feel will unconsciously slow down your activities.
Start telling yourself, “I have all the time I need.” You will keep your mind calm and have more focus. It might even help to visualize a fast-rushing river flowing around big rocks. I like to say to myself, “Flow like water around obstacles.” Keeping my mind calm and focused on what’s next is the key.
Write Out Your Priorities
Instead of keeping your to-do list in your head, make a list of what needs to get done. When your action list is in your head it’s difficult to tell yourself the truth about how long everything will take. Often your task list is much bigger in your head which creates that daunting, overwhelming feeling.
By making a list, prioritizing the tasks and just putting your head down and focusing you’ll be able to knock out twice as many tasks in a shorter period of time than you ever thought possible. For on-going activities and bigger projects, try using a low-cost project management tool like TeamWorkPM.com or Asuana.
Manage the Interruptions
Unplanned interruptions can get the best of even the savviest time manager. Be sure to turn off distractions – your phone, social media, email and your instant messenger. It’s impossible to use your time wisely if you are constantly being interrupted. Give yourself a block of time to focus without allowing any distractions so you can complete tasks – and check them off your list.
This is where your boundaries MUST kick in. Don’t be seduced by other people’s emergencies. Create time to handle unplanned issues but keep your focus on your core priorities first.
Develop a Better Time Strategy
We all have a “strategy” for how we manage time. A strategy is a sequence of thoughts, actions and habits that generate a result. Ask yourself, “is my time management strategy getting good results?” If not, then it’s time to develop a more effective strategy. Hire an optimizer, a performance coach or take a course on how to manage your time effectively. By upgrading your strategy you will improve your mindset and habits around getting things done.
Ultimately, learning to shift your strategy to get into a better flow will allow you to accomplish more in an hour than most people get done in a day.
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