We live in an era of “time poverty” with no end in sight. A recent article in The Economist explained that, for hundreds of years, time has been understood in relation to money. According to the article, “once hours are financially quantified, people worry more about wasting, saving or using them profitably.”
Being connected 24/7 has only amplified the problem. Then, there are days when setbacks happen (i.e. the internet failing) and times when life takes unexpected turns (such as a family member falling ill).
All of the above seem to plague me recently. Between running a business and an ever-changing personal life, I feel as though I can’t catch my breath, at times.
But, when I step back and look at my accomplishments at the end of the week, I’m considerably lucky. I realize that I am finally starting to win the battle with time. But, it takes a lot of practice!
If you can’t seem to find enough hours in the day, my three-step formula might help.
1. Define your goals. What is it that’s important to you? Have you ever taken the time to write it down and prioritize the list? I ask because, until recently, I didn’t even know for sure. Once I was honest with myself about my goals, I found that my schedule was not in alignment with my goals. I urge you to know your personal and professional goals, so you can get clear on what you really need to do.
2. Plan ahead – for everything. Once you know your priorities, get them in your planner! I have a Trello board that outlines all of my business and personal objectives for the week – and I categorize the tasks in order of priority. Once Monday comes, it’s easy for the business list to trump my overall vision, so I try to splice in the personal objectives among work tasks. This way, I’m sure to give myself time for things like working out or calling the doctor. Otherwise, the personal things fall in the cracks simply because I ran out of time.
3. Stay focused. Once you know your goals and you’ve made a plan, avoid getting sidetracked. This is such a challenge in today’s world because many of us are constantly connected. We jump at any request and we often become overloaded with distractions (social media included)! If something comes up or I discover that I want to look into something further, but it was not in my plan for the day, then I make a note of it on my Trello board. I come back to it. It’s funny what I find isn’t so important when it’s at the end of the list. Establishing boundaries with other people is also crucial to staying focused. That’s another blog for another day, but worth mentioning!
I would be remiss if I did not mention the importance of delegation, when you’re able to do this. I’m fortunate to have a team of people that can assist with tasks when I start to get really busy. It helps me to keep my focus on my priorities and keep my time in check. Just make sure that you also allocate for training and questions as you delegate, which is something I’ve learned the hard way.
Most of us know what we need to do to create more time in our life, but we are creatures of habit. If you can break that habit and try something different – just for a day or a week – and see the difference it makes, you might be able to start a new habit. Then, you could be in the beginning stages of gaining back a valuable asset… your time!