I was recently having a conversation with two people about how easy it is to become overwhelmed with all the demands we have on our time. We all know that we live in a world that is continuously getting busier while requiring us to complete more. So how do we get anything accomplished? I wanted to offer you three quick ways ways to add more time to your life so that you can get more done. It’s about saying no, adjusting to your present needs, and blocking your time. They are all related and get easier and more effective when used together.
Why is it that we end up with crazy to do lists or overbooked schedules to the point that we do not accomplish our true desires? It is easy to say it comes down to prioritizing our days, but in reality it is more about a mindset of subtraction rather than addition. We are actually more productive when we limit the amount of items we attempt to accomplish. Think of all the research concerning morning routines and making sure to select 1-3 major tasks to accomplish for the day. This is a successful strategy because the major tasks are tied to a larger overarching goal. As a result, anything extra (not tied to you accomplishing your goal) doesn’t make the list. If it doesn’t make the list, the answer has to be no when it tries to get on your to do list. What makes this approach effective is clarity. You need to be crystal clear on your goals and then say no to anything that is not directly tied to or support the fulfillment of them. I know it is hard, but its’ important. Its’ like decluttering your life.
Keep Balance in Mind
Bad news: It is impossible to achieve complete balance. Continuously striving for it will just remind us that we keep falling short, which will result in an emotional hamster wheel. Instead, we need to keep the idea of balance in mind with the understanding that certain areas of our life will need more attention from time to time. The trick is to be mindful and not spend too much time on one before giving extra time to the other areas. We are human beings. That means we play many roles for multiple people. It is important that we fulfill those roles as best as possible, but it is even more important that we also take care of ourselves. I call it following the oxygen mask rule. Remember to put yours on first before anyone else so that you can actually help others. It is so important to schedule time to rest from your daily routine and do something (even if it is doing nothing) that recharges you both mentally and physically.
Remember that it is not about perfect balance all of the time as much as it is an ebb and flow of responsibilities. You need to make sure that the three areas of family, work, and personal receive the attention they need when they need it. That ultimately means that each will receive more than the other from time to time. Just remember to make sure they equal out over the long term. Failure to do so will result in all three areas suffering; resulting in poor performance, failed relationships, or an unhealthy existence.
This really hit home for me when I was asked what I do to relax during an interview and I was unable to answer. Here I was telling other people to make sure they care for themselves while I was doing the opposite. it led me to be more strict about saying no to items that encroached on my personal time to decompress and recharge.
Block your time
There is no such thing as multitasking when working on things that require thought. Research shows that the more you do at the same time; the more the quality of each task suffers. Taking on one task at a time and finishing it before you move to the next will actually improve how much you get done. Schedule times for you to focus on things that need to be done and then hold yourself accountable. Make sure it is uninterrupted time for items that require deeper thought or creativity. This is difficult to practice, but as it becomes routine you will find that both your productivity and creativity increases. Start by planning blocks for reflection, busy work, meetings, and family time in your weekly calendar. Then move to doing it monthly. Do whatever it takes to stick with it and watch how much more control over your day you end up having.
While we can never add more minutes to the day, we can definitely add more day to our minutes. If you are focused on your goals and saying no to the extra “stuff” that creeps in; making sure you are present and attentive to each area of your life; and blocking your time in a way that helps you accomplish the first two items your days will seem longer. Your to do list will shrink, time with your personal relationships will be more fulfilling, and your productivity will rise.
Please take the time and let me know your thoughts or share this with someone who will find it of value.