September Challenge: Time Management
It has been my observation that most people get ahead during the time that others waste time. – Henry Ford
Time management. It escapes many of us as our to do lists and inboxes grow by the minute. Even those with the best of intentions can start the day beautifully managing their time and by midday, they’re rushing around, getting more frustrated by the second.
With so many goals, things we want to do, and things we feel we have to do, it can be difficult to know where to start and what to do next. With a little planning you can be the master of your time. Here are some tips to get you started.
Join me on the September challenge:
It’s all about choices
How many times have you said “I don’t have time to do that” or “There aren’t enough hours in the day”? When I hear people say this, it tells me they have the wrong perspective of time. Everyone has the same 24 hours every day. Everyone. It’s how you choose to spend those 24 hours that will determine your level of time management. Notice I said ‘choose’. I get a lot of flack when I say this to people. They say, “But I HAVE to go to work. That’s not a choice!” Well, actually it is. You’re choosing the live the lifestyle that requires a certain amount of money, so you have to work. You could easily choose a lifestyle that requires less money so you could work less and spend the rest of your time doing something else. It’s all about choices. What you choose to do in each moment of every day is precisely that, a choice.
Wake up early
The most successful people in the world wake up around 5am. Famous speaker & trainer, Hugh Culver says you should do this as well because it gives you some quiet time before the rest of the world (or the rest of your household) gets up. He goes further and says that with this time, you should do one thing that renews your energy, such as exercise, yoga, meditation, etc. and one thing that is an accomplishment like writing a blog post. Not a morning person? That’s OK. Anyone can become a morning person by taking small steps. Start by going to bed a little earlier, putting your alarm clock across the room so you are less likely to hit the snooze button, and planning things in those early hours that excite you and make you want to get up. It might not be easy at first, but it will be totally worth it.
Have a Plan
Many of us just go through the motions of each day reacting to things that occur around us. Wouldn’t it be great if instead, we told our day how it was going to go? Hugh Culver advises not to wait to see what happens with your day. Instead, have an intention for what is going to happen. This is a huge paradigm shift for so many people that can really be life changing. Before you go to bed, write down what you’re going to do in those first quiet hours of the day. Hugh says this should include some positive visualization of how you want your day to go and a few minutes to go over your to do list for the day (see you’re planning your day!). Now you have a plan, an intention, of how those hours (and the rest of the day) will go. When the rest of your household gets up (or you’re ready to head out to work), you’ve already gotten energized, accomplished something, and had some time to yourself!
Plan Around Your Energy
Now you’re ready to start your workday. This is where you can really take charge of how the day will go. Hugh reminds you to plan your work around your energy levels. He says to do the hardest 50% of your work in the first 90 minutes of your workday. This is when you have the most energy. This is when you’ll work on bigger projects that take more brainpower. After that first 90 minutes is when you should do easier tasks, like checking email, returning phone calls, etc. This is when your energy starts to dip. Then, do the next hardest 50% of your work in the first 90 minutes after your midday meal, when you have higher energy levels. Again, as your energy levels start to dip again, work on easier tasks. This ensures you are doing the most taxing work when you have the highest energy levels.
Get Everything Out of Your Head
So now that we have our plan, what do we do with all those things that pop up throughout the day? GTD expert David Allen says we simply need to get it all out of our heads. He advises that anything that pops into your head should be written down (or recorded digitally) to review later. He refers to this as ‘collecting’. He says that if you don’t get it all out of your head, you will overcommit and create overwhelm. Then set aside some time each day to do the ‘organizing’ of the notes. This is when you decide what to do with everything that came up. Is it something actionable that needs to go on your to-do list? Is it something that you will want to look at ‘maybe someday’? Every one of those notes needs to be routed to the appropriate place in your system. Here’s a diagram of what to do with each type of note: By collecting everything from your head throughout the day and setting a specific time to organize them, you can practice being completely present in what you’re doing at any given moment. When you give your full attention to the task at hand, you will get it done faster and with a higher level of quality.
Give yourself a break
It sounds overwhelming, I know, but don’t let that discourage you. Just keep doing this until it become a habit. Give yourself a break if you are not able to get something out of your head. If it’s important, it will come back. Create a system that is complete, because if it’s not complete, you won’t trust it and you won’t use it. Use it when you don’t feel well, use it when you feel great, and every time in between. As David Allen says, “You don’t have to like your life to get it off your mind”. Join the September challenge:
- Get everything out of your head
- Set aside a time each day to go through the notes and prioritize
- Create a plan the each night for the next day
- Wake up early
- Stay tuned for tools, tricks and tips for productivity! (How to respond to email faster, a tool to determine your most distracting time, and how to make Facebook super productive!)