Do you consider yourself a master of time management? Are you a productive person in control of your time? If you are struggling to stay focused and overcome your long to-do list I offer up eight strategies to help you stay focused and in control of your time.
Originally Published in One Wise Life
For many people, being productive is all about working long hours and getting lots of things done. It’s about building up their To Do list and working through that list, striking activities off when completed and then adding some more. It’s about multi-tasking and hustle and hard work.
Working Smarter not Harder
For me this couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s not about working harder but working smarter. It’s not about completing lots of tasks but identifying and focusing on completing the right tasks.
Productivity is about understanding your goals and dreams and then identifying the high value activities that will help you reach those goals. It is about being consistently productive day after day, creating the right environment and habits and focusing solely on the one or two things that will really make a difference in your life and your business.
Distraction and Overwhelm
Why is productivity and focus so important in modern business? Distractions and overwhelm.
Whether you’re a solopreneur, a small business owners or the CEO of a large organisation clarity and focus are more important than ever.
We are inundated with distractions, our workload seems to be getting bigger, we feel maxed out with the number of things we need to do in any given day and we’re spending less time with our family and friends. This can often lead to overwhelm, stress and a loss of clarity and focus on the things that matter in our life.
You want to achieve high performance in business and your life but sometimes it can feel out of reach. There is social media updates, a bulging inbox and a list of things you know must be completed. Then there are recommendations from friends or social networks on the next big thing you should try, there are meetings to attend, reports to write, networking to do. The list goes on. If that wasn’t enough there can often be a sense of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) when other business owners are having success or trying new things (software, marketing strategies) etc.
So, what do you do? How do you make maximum use of your time? How do you create the right kind of focus that will create a real change in your business and life? How can you do more in less time?
Here are some simple strategies that will help you take control of your time and get time back to become more organised, creative, productive and profitable.
1. IDENTIFY YOUR GOALS
Without a clear vision or goal for your business it can become easy to drift, lose focus and become distracted. By creating clarity on where you are now and where you want to get to it becomes much easier to focus on the high value activities that will help you achieve your goals. It will also give you the willpower and motivation to move forward, saving you time and reducing busyness and procrastination.
2. FOCUS ONLY ON HIGH VALUE ACTIVITIES
We are all busy and often have a never ending To Do list but are we often spend our time on low value activities that don’t really impact or drive our business forward. Take some time to identify all of the things you do in a typical week. How many of them are actually revenue generating, high value activities? Can you outsource or stop doing some of the things that simply take up time and aren’t revenue generating activities? The aim should be to focus on 20% of your actions that will bring in 80% of your results
3. CREATE THE RIGHT MORNING ROUTINE
It is essential to create the right morning routine that boosts your energy and allows you to focus on the key priorities for the day. Firstly, ensure you get a good night’s sleep. If you can, spend 60-90 minutes setting up a ‘high performance’ day every day by focusing on what YOU want to achieve.
Have a healthy breakfast, read, meditate, go for a walk – whatever works best for you. Then lay out and be clear on your priorities for the day. What is the One Thing you want to focus on – do that thing first until completed. Don’t go on social media or open your email until you’ve completed that task.
This will become a habit and make you laser focused every day.
4. WORK IN CHUNKS OF TIME
If you’re serious about gaining more control over your time, experiencing more freedom and conquering any feelings of stress and overwhelm then you must not multi-task. Work in chunks of time on your priority projects, don’t switch between tasks or projects.
I work on the 60/60/30 principle, working in chunks of 50 minutes, then taking a 10-minute break for the first two chunks of time before then taking 30 minutes out to read, walk or meditate. It will help keep your energy up throughout the day and give you a real sense of accomplishment.
5. FOCUS ON THE ONE THING
Our mind is not wired to focus on numerous things at once. If we shift away from the project we’re working on it can take up to 20 minutes to get our mind focused again. If we are distracted throughout the day or shift tasks we can often lose so much time that we get the sense at the end of the day that we haven’t actually achieved anything.
If you concentrate on just one thing at a time you will have more time and often more success. If you do it consistently, it will become a habit.
6. MANAGE YOUR ENERGY
We often feel we don’t have enough time with work, in our relationships and in our personal life. We want more freedom to do the things we love. We want to save time and get time back. This often leads to stress, overwhelm and a sense of stuckness. When we have those feelings, we aren’t productive and our energy level plummets.
If we stop, take a step back and reflect on what we really want to achieve and when we want to achieve it by we can redirect our energy and focus on the four or five things that will help us achieve those goals. It is about making the maximum use of your time combined with your perfect morning routine and giving yourself permission to step away from the business so you come back refreshed and re-focused.
True productivity around the things that matter most in business, emotionally and in your life are about prioritisation. If you have 20 things on your To Do list each day you’re not prioritising.
If you have a never-ending To Do list and bulging Inbox your workload will become bigger leading to overwhelm and a loss of clarity and focus.
To achieve high performance and peak productivity is about focus and prioritisation. Lay out five things you want to achieve each day every morning. At the end of the day review this list and create a new priority list for the following day. If you keep doing this, it will become a habit.
8. TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF
How often do you take time for yourself or celebrate small or big achievements each day? For some it is a badge of achievement to work harder and work longer hours to get as many things done as possible. If you continue to do this consistently you could be in danger of burnout.
By making the maximum use of your time, streamlining your workflow and focusing on the high value activities that will help you achieve your goals you will have more time to spend on yourself.
You must give yourself permission to take time out of your business, whether you want to spend this time on personal development or with the family or friends that’s up to you but give yourself that time.
Create ongoing rituals that will transform your day and help you become more creative and more focused. Creating that headspace can help you reflect, refocus and come back more energised and motivated than ever.