Time and money often go together (courtesy of EarthWalk)
By now, you ought to know that time is the most precious resource of all.
Every one of us have only 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. This universal rule applies regardless of our station in life. How we make use of our time determines our happiness and success in life.
The challenge, however, is this. How do we make the best use of the time we have on this planet?
Here are 7 strategies you can apply to make your limited time count.
1) Schedule Social Media and Email
With an endless stream of entertaining and gossipy news, updates, photos and videos, social networks like Facebook and Twitter are highly addictive. You can be so engrossed with catching up on your friend’s lives that you forget to live your own!
Ditto for emails and Whatsapp messages. In fact, studies have shown that each new email, Tweet, or Whatsapp which you receive actually gives you a shot of neurologically addictive dopamine!
To regain control of your life, you need to manage your digital consumption. Schedule precisely when you should log in to your email, Facebook, Twitter and other online accounts. Try to limit emails to twice a day, and social media to perhaps three to four times daily.
2) Keep Meetings and Appointments Razor Focused
Anybody working in an organisation would know how dreaded meetings can be. Half the time, attendees are either twiddling their smartphones or daydreaming while the chairman rambles on and on in a monologue.
Meetings without agendas are the worst. These often drift from topic to topic without a clear end point.
If you’re in a position of influence, stop wasting everybody’s time – including yours. Do not ever call for meetings without clear outcomes.
Have the discipline to create an agenda. Keep to the allotted time. If the meeting is a brainstorming session, be sure to facilitate actively using the right tools so that participants will find it fruitful.
3) Break Huge Tasks Into Smaller Chunks
Often, our natural instincts lead us to avoid tackling large, challenging and unpleasant projects. We give ourselves all kinds of excuses to save it for another day. This often have negative consequences.
To avoid this deadlock, break down elephantine tasks into smaller bite-sized pieces. Each time you complete a milestone, tick that off. Have a mini-celebration, and then move on to the next.
By splitting your major projects into incremental pieces, you can better motivate everybody to achieve incremental milestones. Doing so allows you to bring your heart and mind back to the important tasks, regardless of their size or complexity.
4) Synchronise Energy Peaks with Work Peaks
Understand your bio-rhythms. Time your energy peaks to coincide with the time you need to do your most focused or creative work. Exercise too to keep your productive energies high.
Are you a morning person (like me) who do your best work at the crack of dawn? Or would you function a lot better when everybody else is asleep? Adjust your work schedule according to these rhythms.
As a general rule, I find that mornings are usually best kept to doing your own individual focused work, while afternoons may be better for meetings and discussions. Having said that, you should probably determine what works best for you.
(PS – read my LinkedIn article on the Ideal Schedule For Your Brain.)
5) Maximise Interstitial Intervals
Life does not happen in discreet hourly blocks where you can sit at a desk to work on your magnum opus. Rather, there will be periods of time where you need to travel from one point to another, wait for a person at a cafe, or queue up for something.
Instead of checking how many people “liked” your photo on Facebook, or crushing fruits and candies, consider reading a book, writing down your thoughts, or listening to something enriching. There are tonnes of free resources – both physical (library books) and digital (blogs or podcasts). Use these resources to constantly sharpen your mind or uplift your spirit when there are odd intervals of time.
6) Embrace The Art of Journaling
I know, I know. Writing sounds like work, especially if you’re working in an office environment.
However, journaling is vastly different from churning out a weekly sales report. Neither is it putting out a press release, or sending out a management memo.
Instead, journaling is an exercise in mindful introspection. By doing so, you can embrace your full self. Doing so also also allows you to reflect on what you have achieved, where you have screwed up, and what you could have done better.
Beyond keeping a diary, you can also consider writing a blog. The difference between a personal journal and a blog is that the latter is public.
While this may limit what you can put into it, a public blog compels you to keep writing even when you don’t feel like it. Over time, it gradually becomes a positive habit that helps you to think more critically while sharpening your writing skills.
7) Learn to Say “NO”
Finally, and perhaps most importantly in this crazy over-scheduled world, learn to decline appointments.
Yes, that bunch of friends are the finest you can find in the whole world. However, you do need the time to rest, exercise, read and recharge.
The same applies to meeting requests. Briefings by potential new vendors or suppliers may be fun to attend. However, these often does nothing for you or your business.
Saying “NO” helps you to wrest control of your life back into your hands. It allows you to determine and manage what’s necessary and vital. Of course, I’m not saying that you should live a life of a hermit (God forbid!). However, you’ll find that by not being a “Yes” man, you send the right signals to your friends, colleagues and even bosses that you are man or woman who stands on his or her own two feet. And that would work in your favour.
How else can we manage our time better?