8 Ways to Create More Time
Do you ever get that feeling like you had a really “busy” day, but got nothing done? Here’s a secret…busyness actually has nothing to do with how much we have to do and everything to do with the number of frantic thoughts we have floating around in our brain. The feeling of being busy is all created by our thoughts; however, there are things we can do to be more productive in the 24 hours that we all have. There are many things that influence our productivity and rob us of precious time that we could be spending with our friends and family, doing things we love or getting the most out of our day. Here are 8 things you can do to create more time, whether you work inside or outside your home.
Clear the Clutter
Not only does clutter and sloppiness give a poor impression, but it also causes chaos in our brain and increases anxiety. Our space is very often a direct expression of where we are emotionally and mentally. If we are distracted or disorganized, we tend to lose things. When we are feeling disconnected, the emails pile up and go unreturned. If you are starting to feel overwhelmed, the first place that it is likely to show up is in your personal space (desk, office, car, house, etc.), and ignoring the clutter only exacerbates the feeling. Take pride in yourself, your space and the work you do. Decluttering doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Start with one folder, one stack of papers or one drawer. Just start.
Drop the Drama
Drama…we all know it and more importantly, we all create it in our minds. It’s part of our human nature…it’s only our brain trying to protect us. The problem is that drama attracts negativity that is not needed or useful. It creates chaos and stress in our lives. It prevents us from staying present by focusing in on petty issues that waste our time. Most people can probably think of extreme examples of drama, but it could be something much more subtle. It could be something like taking things personally, being defensive, oversharing with co-workers or constantly needing external validation from outside ourselves. All of these things create drama in our minds which wastes time that could be better spent creating what we want.
Stick to Work at Work
This seems like a no-brainer, but you can increase your productivity by only doing work at work. When you allow personal issues and tasks to consistently become part of work time, your productivity is guaranteed to suffer. Keep personal email, social media and other personal things outside of “office hours.” Even if you work from home, create “office hours” for yourself and stick to only working during those defined time frames. Focusing on work at work frees up your leisure time so you can spend more time doing what you love.
Drop the Excuses
When something goes wrong or you haven’t done something you were supposed to do, just take ownership of your part in it. Rather than blaming others, trying to cover it up or making excuses, just own it! It saves everyone time so there can be forward progress. Besides, no one wants to hear a ton of excuses, they just want the problem resolved. We all make mistakes (humans remember?), so apologize if it’s necessary but do so without explanation (excuses) and focus on how you can fix it.
When you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. Surely you’ve only heard this a hundred times, but have you really HEARD it? If you’re being honest with yourself, you don’t have it all in your head. If you do, you are a unicorn. The #1 reason I hear from people as to why they don’t plan is that they “don’t have time.” The truth is that it really doesn’t take more time. Most people likely waste more time scrolling through social media, watching Netflix or trying to figure out what we should be doing. The more likely reason for not planning is so you can fail ahead of time. Think about it. If you delay planning (fail ahead of time), you don’t have to feel the fear or discomfort when things don’t go as planned or you don’t meet your own expectations.
You will be the most productive if you strategically plan out your time. By being proactive in this way, you are eliminating (or at least greatly decreasing) the time you spend putting out fires and you kick procrastination where it hurts.
“Reactive people might jump in when needed and even do a great job, but proactive people are more likely to succeed in the long-term” – Ruth Soukup
Don’t just let life happen to you! Plan your future by being forward-focused and fixing things before they become a problem. Set goals for yourself and create a plan of action for how you will reach those goals. Make sure you aren’t just creating an endless to-do list of things that don’t really line up with your goals. Do only the stuff that really matters. Once you have a plan in place, plug those action items into your calendar and commit to doing what you said you would do. Go into your day with a plan of attack!
Procrastination is only an excuse for not moving forward and it is usually fear-based. Maybe it’s fear of rejection or fear of not doing it good enough. Maybe we think it’s too hard or too much and we just don’t want to face it. Either way, do it in the face of fear. Even if you don’t feel like it, do it anyway. The best way to handle procrastination is to put the most daunting tasks on your calendar and tackle it first before anything else.
Be on Time
Not only does being late send the wrong message (they don’t matter), but it usually causes us to be frazzled. This leads to taking even more time to settle in…not to mention it disrupts everyone else and results in lost productivity. Plan to get where you need to be at least 10 minutes before you need to so you can feel more relaxed and be more productive. If you know you are usually late, give yourself 30 extra minutes. If time seems to “get away” from you, set a timer for when you need to be out the door. Also, be sure to give yourself extra time for bad traffic, construction or other unexpected delays.
If you tend to be a “yes” person, I want you to practice saying “no.” Say it with me…”Ohh, sorry, I can’t.” If you have trouble saying “no” you are probably a people-pleaser. There is nothing wrong with pleasing others unless it is at the expense of your sanity. “Yes” people tend to overload themselves, become stressed out, scramble and rush, and end up under-delivering. When you’re overloaded there are missed deadlines, lost productivity and less than your best quality work. Rather than always defaulting to “yes”, be honest about what you can do and what you need in reference to time and resources. If you are used to always saying “yes”, saying no can be difficult… so make sure you practice. Commit to saying “no” to at least one request you this week (and it can’t be a request from your kids).
Identify at least one of the 8 tips I’ve shared that you struggle with when it comes to time management and productivity, and give it a try this week. I’d love to hear what small changes you’ve made to get more of what truly matter done in your life. Share your struggles or success in the comments!