I don't know anyone who doesn't complain about not having enough time. Mr. Jake Wilson, the Solar Salesman of Denver, challenged our perceptions of reality and time during his speech on time management strategies with his opening statement: " Time isn't real."
As we all pondered on that with confusion, he was happy to go deeper on the subject. We were fortunate to have four speakers commenting on the subject, each with their own take on time and how to "have more of it". Ultimately, it's not a matter of having more time... it's a matter of using your time wisely. To increase your time, you must be more productive and focused on what is important to you.
This week we cover everything about time management and how you can be more optimized with it.
START WITH A TIME AUDIT
The first step is being aware about where your time is going. I researched and tried countless apps on time tracking. I will save you the confusion with trial and error. aTimeLogger was the absolute best. It allows you to quickly start and stop activities, input goals and intervals, and view your time visually with graphs. This was the easiest to remember to use and edit.
LIST YOUR VALUES
The next thing you will want to do is list out and prioritize your values. When I did this and compared to my time tracking, I was aware of misalignment. I was appalled by how distracted I was by meager things. "No wonder I haven't made progress!" I said as I looked at my graphs. " I really haven't been focused or committed at all." It's a hard reality when you let yourself down.
When you take a look at the reality of where you are investing your time and compare it to your goals and values you might get a little down. Don't go that direction. Admit that you can do better and use it as a way to put a plan into place. There's no point worrying about what you have done in the past. It's time to focus on the present so you can build a better future.
TIME TO BUCKLE DOWN
List out your goals. What do you really want and why do you really want it? A goal without a reason why or a plan is just wishful thinking. Don't be afraid to jot down what you really want to work towards. If you ever find yourself grumbling about not doing a certain task throughout the day, ask yourself "What would I rather be doing?" Use it as an opportunity to discover what you would rather be building or growing as opposed to what is in front you. I am not saying our lives are expected to be perfect or that we can magically transport to a white sandy beach in the Bahamas. I'm saying to listen to yourself more about what brings you joy. Listen to what your inner self desire to help you gauge your goals and values.
CUT DOWN ON THE FLUFF
Ever notice any moments that are automatic to your routine simply by default? I noticed in my time audit that I enjoy watching television while I eat, which then would distract me for a couple hours afterwards. Sometimes we have never put thought into our time strategy so we default to a no-brainer. That no-brainer activity sucks away precious time. Luckily, if you can be triggered into bad habits... you can be triggered into good habits as well. I switched from default television viewing to yoga (it was an easy transition). Whenever I watched television I would do yoga while I was listening to it in the background. Television turned into music in the background. My television has dramatically decreased while my music and fitness has risen. Oh yeah. Did I mention I wanted more music in my daily life and a healthier body? Those were my goals. Scratched off both like a good little time optimizer.
VAMPIRE THOUGHTS AND ACTIVITIES
Those activities that aren't really helping you? Each one is a vampire. This term came from somewhere on which I read are very similar to small appliances plugged in that drain very small amounts of electricity in your home. All those minimal appliances add up and raise your electric bill. It's the same way with activities and small distractions. Each one may not seem like a big deal but it adds up to stress, drained energy, and less time for you. Every occasion I become aware of a vampire thought or activity that isn't serving me, it's eliminated. It signals to me that I haven't optimized that particular detail. I narrow down on it until it's either eliminated or handled in a better way. Can I delegate it? Can I remove it? Can I manage it better?
Let me address the vampire thoughts. There are some people and situations that encourage thoughts to be just as draining just like those small appliances in our home. However they are more dangerous. There's nothing more draining to your time than unhealthy thoughts. If you have a friend or someone close to you being a vampire...I beg you to get rid of them. At least distance yourself or become or assertive.
Since we are on the subject; learn to say no.
One of the most effective strategies I have learned that has impacted my time is not letting people use me or disrespect my time. I make subtle distinctions to communicate that I value my time early in the relationship. My calendar system notifies the guest while they are making an appointment to "be prepared to focus by chatting in a quiet setting without distractions or loud noise" or " it's important to know you can't reschedule within 24 hours of our appointment without risking a long wait to determine a new date."
My time audit also revealed how my colleagues and friends alike wasted my time with annoying questions or requests. Have you ever had someone ask you " Do you know when that restaurant closes?" or " What's the address to so-so place?" My new favorite phrase: "Google it."
My co-workers would come into my office and ask where the extra face masks were located or how to make a copy on the new copy machine. These little things would disturb my thoughts and it takes 20-25 minutes for your brain to recover from a interruption. Solution? Point to a sign or they can read the freshly made check list.
Checklists are your friends. If it's something you have to do more than once... make a checklist.
You can't fathom the amount of checklists I have made after embracing this technique. I have a list for going on a road trip, hosting a dinner party, cleaning my home, etc. You can hand it off to your housekeeper, significant other, or friends. Just remember to make the list so simple that anyone can follow it. It doesn't help if it can be misconstrued.
Remember, optimizing is gradual and you tweak things until you have more time in your life.
Rephrase. You are more productive and make room for the things you actually care about developing in your life.