Here are 10 tips to make the most of your time. Not having enough time and productivity are real challenges for many people right now, and with the summer holidays looming, these 10 tips might just help you gain back some time while still getting the results you want in your work!
Recently, almost every conversation I’ve had with clients has touched on this topic. People feel so busy all the time! It’s so stressful to have so much to do, and not enough time for it all. Just keeping all the plates spinning is sucking all the joy out of the work! It feels like you never get enough done, or what you do isn’t good enough. On top of that, people seem to constantly place more demands on your time. It’s hard to keep up with it all!
Why so busy?
There may be a few key reasons why you’re so busy. Reasons beyond simply having so much to do. Because we put in a certain level of effort in different things for specific reasons. Your motivation may be:
- You want to get big results quickly
- You want to help as many people as possible
- You find it hard to say no to people, or you’re a people-pleaser
- You are not getting the support you need in certain areas of your life
- You don’t always recognise your own needs
- You get excited by new ideas and projects and get carried away in the excitement
If you recognise yourself in some of these, it might be useful for you to delve deeper to find some ways to change some of these behaviours, for example by talking to a coach.
But if you’re not ready for that yet, here are 10 tips to make the most of your time.
1. Plan your day realistically
I used to plan for the day I really wanted to have; no interruptions or distractions, I would gloss over the ‘life-chores’ to pretend I have more time than I really did and I would vastly overestimate how much I could get done in a single day!
Now I know better! I plan for a ‘real’ day, adding in time for ‘life-chores’ like groceries, cooking, admin and also for the things I want to do, like going for a walk and playing with the dog, maybe even coffee with a friend.
Making time in your day for all aspects of life and work is absolutely key in getting more done! You can use tools like timeboxing to schedule out all areas of work and life. https://todoist.com/productivity-methods/time-blocking
2. Plan tasks at an appropriate level of detail
Again, I used to get this horribly wrong! I would add a ‘task’ to my ‘to do’ list like ‘Update Website’. It is vague, it can be huge and it actually requires a lot of thinking to get started on this. It’s unlikely to ever get ticked off.
Planning tasks at the appropriate level of detail helps to ensure that the task is do-able and easy to get started without having to do a lot of thinking about what it actually is that you should be doing!
3. Prioritise appropriately!
Maybe you now have 10 detailed tasks. That still doesn’t mean they can all get done in one day. Prioritise your tasks appropriately. A great technique you can use is Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle (a similar model is also described by Stephen Covey in The 7 habits of highly effective people).
Prioritise your tasks in relation to the goals you’re working to achieve or challenges you’re working to mitigate. And then make sure you plan only a realistic number of tasks for any one day.
4. Are the tasks adding real value?
It is easy to do work that sits within your comfort zone, or that is easy. But is the work you’re doing adding real value? What is the impact or result from doing the task and should you be doing as much of it as you are?
In the past, I have spent hours ‘being busy’ doing things that didn’t directly contribute to my goals. But I could tell myself I was making some sort of progress as I was getting some work done. Never mind that that work didn’t really lead to the results I was trying to achieve. It was a little fairy tale I would tell myself.
Absolutely not helpful! Consider what you’re trying to achieve and think of the steps that would get you there. Focus on those tasks! They may be more difficult or outside your comfort zone, but they’ll never get inside your comfort zone if you don’t start doing them!!
5. Do you even need to do that work at all?
Seriously, do you know how many tasks you’re doing that you don’t really need to do? Maybe they have no impact at all, or they’re just additional steps in your process or system that you don’t need right now. Maybe you started doing it because some ‘guru’ or book told you to do it, but if it isn’t adding value, it might not be right for you and your work!
Reviewing your tasks, processes and systems and properly understanding how each task adds value (or not) will help you streamline your processes and create efficiencies.
6. Do you get distracted easily?
I can get hugely carried away by new ideas, creative thinking or new projects! It can set me off on a tangent and send me down rabbit holes with great excitement! And while it may be fun, it is not always helpful! It can frequently lead to a long list of half-started/never finished projects while not supporting your overall goals.
Recognising when you’re about to fall into the ‘excitement trap’ will help prevent you going down the rabbit hole!
7. Do you have a clear direction?
Having a very clear idea of your direction, your larger goals and your smaller goals will help you stay focused and it will help you recognise when activities threaten to take you off your path!
Distractions come along often in the form of offers, or opportunities of requests. And while some may be great fun, many will be time-sucking activities that don’t support your own goals. But if you’re not really clear on what you’re working towards, it can be hard to recognise when you’re veering off-course. Doing the work to create a clear direction will help you stay focused.
8. Can you say No? Can you set and maintain boundaries?
Having a clear direction will also help create and maintain boundaries around what work you will do, and what you won’t do. But if your motivation is to please others, you might need to do some more work on setting and maintaining boundaries. Recognising how requests from others impact you and your needs will help you to say No when appropriate. You can’t do everything and be everything to everyone. Identifying boundaries on how much time you might spend, or what tasks you might take on, or when you may or may not be available to support others will help you manage your time for the things that are most important to you.
9. Can you ask for help?
Like you help others, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It can be difficult to recognise your own needs when you mostly live and work to support others in your family, friends and at work. You fully understand your partner needs time for their hobby outside of work even if that means you don’t get time for your hobby/needs outside of your work. Creating more balance in division of tasks within your support network will help free up some time for you to focus on what is good for you, rather than always supporting others.
10. Take a break!!
This is arguably the best tip on this entire list! It feels wrong but trust me, it works! Slow down! Take a break! And watch the changes happen. This is one of life’s paradoxes and it is one of my favourites.
When you’re busy, there is a lot of noise going on in your brain, because you’re trying to keep track of a lot of things and you feel stressed and pressured.
When you slow down, that noise clears and it becomes so much easier to just get on with the task at hand. So plan in those breaks, walks, playtime etc. Whatever gets your mind out of the daily grind, slow down and watch your results speed up!
Implementing 10 tips to make the most of your time
There you have it! 10 tips to make the most of your time. Implementing these tips may feel difficult at first as perhaps some of these go against what you’ve been taught about working hard and what it means to be productive. I believe that each of these will bring a small increment of improvement into your life and work, and that these small increments, when done consistently, can bring you big results.
More than that, it will help you work with integrity, leading to even less stress and a lot more joy in your work! No more losing your sparkle, your mojo or your way! Instead you’ll be moving forward with purpose, direction and focus.
What are your favourite productivity tips?
I’d love to hear about your favourite productivity and time-management tips!
If you’d like help on getting clear on your goals, your boundaries or learning how to stop people-pleasing, let’s talk! I’m happy to help!