We all, at some stage in our lives, wish we had more time at our disposal. It’s foolish wishing for something we know we just can’t have but that won’t stop many of us from trying anyway. I myself wish I could get more time and the truth is, there are actually a few things you can do, to gain more time.
1. Get up earlier.
I could have just snuck that one in way down this list, but let’s get this obvious one right out there, front and centre. Many successful people get up early. They do so to get more accomplished but more importantly, they do it so that they get the things they consider important to them done. If we all have the same 24 hours as the next person, it stands to reason that it is in how we spend those 24 hours that makes the difference.
You don’t necessarily need to get up three hours earlier. Maybe all you need is an extra 30 minutes or even an hour. Only realise this – it makes a big difference. I am a big advocate of early rising now, having started this more than a year ago. It takes a while to get used to it especially if you are a late starter but I find the effort has more than paid off. Consequently, I am an early riser even on days I need not be.
2. Plan what you want to focus on the night before.
I am a huge believer in checklists. It makes my life easier, it helps me prioritise and I feel satisfied and relieved when crossing items out in my checklist. When the day starts, it very easily moves fast. However, it may not necessarily move in the direction you choose – you get bombarded by other people’s agenda, communication inroads and timelines. When this happens, it’s only natural that you tend to respond to this rather than block it out. But if you start the day with a clear focus of what you plan to do, then this definitely helps you process and prioritise what you will accept coming straight down your path. The noise of the day can be particularly deafening and trying to sort out your priorities in the early part of the day, or worst still, midway through your day, can be fraught with much difficulty.
You don’t need to plan in much detail. Having an idea of the top three things you plan to attack the following day is as good a place to start as any.
3. Start with the worst/most pressing challenge first.
Starting with the worst thing first means starting with that obvious little ball of a problem you are allowing to fester in the corner while you do mundane activity, convincing yourself you are working when actually you are avoiding something. Consider it your little big problem.
When you start with little big problem first thing, you are fresh. You’ve rested, you have the ability to see things from a different perspective and most importantly, you are in the right frame of mind to deal with it…because you have set aside the time and mental space for it.
Frequently, you will find, as I have done, that the big problem is usually one of perspective and mindset. The problem is really not that big – it’s just that you don’t want to deal with it. And the more you refuse to deal with it, the bigger the issue seems to be. But once you begin to tackle it, the problem/challenge starts to feel quite…. surmountable.
A tired, unkempt, messy sense of space, both mentally and physically, is a drain on you. The clutter creeps in and invades your personal space, making you feel hemmed in and out of control. When you declutter, you immediately feel lighter, more at ease and able to cope. In this way, you feel you have more at your disposal – more to receive and more to give. Consequently, you will feel the expanse of space and time before you.
5. Just do it. Accept that while you need to move, moving slowly is better than not moving at all.
Decide quickly what you will move on. Make decisions about what is important to you and what is not. You may find in the process of decluttering and reprioritising, that the list of things you want to action off may be long and therefore, hard to do. But realising that the journey begins with the first step will give you confidence to move ahead. Understand that if you are considering these issues, you are therefore on the right track. And if you follow point 8 (to tackle it one at time) below, your quick gains from this plan will hold you as you move further down your list.
6. Decide what will not be done.
As much as you need to make an action plan about what you want to achieve, you also need a plan for what you will not work on. There needs to be balance in your approach. If you move headlong into your to-do list, something will need to give. Deciding what will be left behind, or ignored at this point, is better than allowing time and circumstance to make that decision for you.
7. Get help or delegate.
If there’s a way you can offload the stuff you don’t want to handle, then do it. There’s no need to believe that everything that needs to get done, needs to be done by you. If you are ever the perfectionist and want to be involved in every step of every endeavour along the journey, realise that there is a price to pay for this. It will take its toll on you. So consider what aspects you can outsource or delegate so that you can really focus on the things that matter to you.
8. If you can, tackle it one at a time.
There may be times, when you need to multi-task and much has been written about the virtue of multi-tasking. But any good, worthwhile endeavour cannot be multitasked. Things requiring intensity of effort, time and space need to be given due attention. So, where you can, devote yourself to tackling one thing at a time. It will save you time and energy splitting yourself between too many tasks only to find half fulfilled results.
9. Keep a time log.
If you record your time over the course of a week, you can see how and where you have pockets of time and also how you are spending your time. It will give you insight into how much time you are devoting to an area. Sometimes, you may believe you are spending less time on something than you actually are. Or you may find some activities are a complete time suck without much real benefit associated. Only making the commitment to discover this for yourself will give you insight into where your problem really lies.
10. Be mindful of where and how you spend your time.
Slightly different from keeping a time log, here you are trying to maintain a sense of awareness of your time. You want to keep track of how your energy levels change as the day progresses, what hot buttons are triggered by what activities and how certain people or circumstances can drain you of your time. You may get into a meeting for 30 minutes but the effect of that one meeting may upset/cause you loss of focus for the greater part of the day – either because of the issues raised or the personalities involved. Realising the drain on your emotion, and consequently, your time, is key to making the changes needed.