“It’s not too late. Time is not running out. Your life is here and now, and the moment has arrived at which you’re finally ready to change.”- Cheryl Strayed
Between owning my own business, enjoying hobbies, being present in my marriage and my friendships, I often feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day. My life is full and time is limited! The worst part? I find myself in a position when evaluating what I have on my plate that I am not willing to give any of it up! My secret weapon is to work smarter, not harder. I have become a master at maximizing every hour of my day in order to honor the choices and commitments in my life. Below are some of the habits I have formed to keep me sane, manage my time, and feel successful regardless of what life throws my way!
Imagine starting each day feeling organized, knowing where to focus your attention while having ample time to do all the things. Now, let’s make this vision your daily reality by being proactive. Each night before bed consider your schedule for the following day and identify the top 3-4 priorities or tasks that will require most of your time and attention. Write those top tasks on a list, they represent the tasks that MUST be addressed that day. Do not strive to over achieve on your top task list! Having more than 3-4 tasks on your plate puts you in a poor position to have a manageable day. It also results in throwing off your sleep, stress levels, schedule and ability to be your most productive self. Identifying your top tasks also allows you to wake up each day with intention, a plan for your day already in place, making it easy for you to dive right in! Feeling like your list will never end? Train yourself to remember that there is ALWAYS more to be done. By identifying what on your list can truly wait you will cross each task off in order of importance without sacrificing your sanity. Spend your precious time moving forward, not side to side.
Setting boundaries is essential for great time management and productivity. Establishing a task timeline or even a “cut off time” to have things accomplished is the key to reducing stress, eliminate the feeling of “rushing around” and most of all maintaining a work life balance. Boundaries, limits and prioritizing your time allows a seamless transition into family time, social hour or whatever is next without additional work stress. If you are someone that struggles to meet deadlines or conclude things in a timely fashion, start by implementing a “cut off time” each night. This “cut off time” is the deadline and your productivity reminder that your tasks should be finished and not costing you time that you do not have. It will help you stay on track for completing tasks, maintain a manageable schedule and encourages great balance. My “cut off” time alarm is my favorite sound of the day! It holds me accountable and on my most stressful days creates a “light at the end of the tunnel.” I set an alarm on my phone and make it my biggest priority to honor that deadline. When working smarter, not harder one can easily accomplish their tasks while also creating much needed balance on a daily basis.
Prioritize being proactive at all times. We spend a lot of time time each day being reactive, especially in work settings by Responding to emails, sitting in meetings and solving other people’s emergencies. Although some of this can be avoided, some of it is completely out of your control and operating from a place of reaction will road block your ability to accomplish your top tasks in a timely fashion. A great solution that will increase your productivity and focus when unavoidable disasters strike is setting a time limit for each task. Identify the most important task and set a timer for 25-30 mins (or the time your schedule allows) to dedicate your entire focus on that single task. When the timer is up, you will have been far more productive than if you were thinking about the task, working on it while checking your email, answering your cell phone while simultaneously scrolling social media. That stop watch or timer is more than a time limit. It is what creates a guaranteed window of time throughout the day to be productive, laser focused and free of distractions that otherwise compete for your time and energy.
It is a proven fact that the average office worker loses about 2 hours a day due to distractions. They can’t be eliminated completely, but limiting distractions is a key component for optimal productivity. Silence your cell phone, close the extra windows on your desk top, close your door and create a space that truly sets you up for success. I strategically turn my message and email notifications off on my cell phone during working hours. Even better, turn it off! Your boss and schedule will thank you simultaneously for being the most efficient worker in the room. Not to mention, the benefit of increased productivity and efficiency will far overpower the additional scrolling, text messaging, or daily 35 minute snooze that never actually makes you feel more rested.
Using these tips and establishing habits that encourage you to work smarter and harder will positively impact your life in every way. Enjoy more free time, have more fun, take care of yourself and see the people in your life that matter the most. Life is for living, after all.
For additional tips, helpful resources or information please visit http://www.carsonlainefitness.com.