Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom, work-at-home mom, blogger, entrepreneur, small business owner, or a combination of many of these different titles, one thing is for certain: you crave order and balance in your life. You want to know the secret to getting more done in less time, and you’re sick to death of people telling you to sleep more, wake up earlier, exercise, and drink more water.
You need a list of time management tips that actually work.
You’re not alone.
All of us struggle to keep up with all of the demands we face each day, and while we do our best to maintain some sort of balance in our lives, the reality is that most of us absolutely suck at time management.
Because we fail to realize that success isn’t defined by HOW MUCH we accomplish each day.
WHAT we accomplish is much more important.
I’ve been giving this concept a lot of thought and practice over the last several months, and I’ve made it my mission to figure out how I can use my time more effectively so I can achieve all of my personal and professional goals without feeling as though I’m neglecting everyone and everything along the way.
I’ve read dozens of books on productivity, I’ve taken time management courses, I’ve set timers, I’ve tested out different productivity apps, and I’ve even compared notes with other moms and bloggers to get a better sense of what I’m doing right and what I’m failing miserably at.
As it turns out, getting more done in less time isn’t as hard as it sounds. All you need to do is forget all of the time management tips you’ve tried over the course of your life and put these 6 productivity strategies into practice.
1. FIND YOUR ONE THING
One of the most powerful books I read last year was The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller. In the book, Gary introduces the idea that behind every successful person is their ONE Thing – the thing that stands between them and their goal. He asks, ‘what’s the ONE Thing you can do this week such that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?’, and then compellingly demonstrates that extraordinary results are a result of how narrow our focus is.
2. STOP MULTI-TASKING
If you have a tendency to measure your success by the amount of things you accomplish each day/week, I urge you to rethink your strategy. While it’s great to knock a million things off your never-ending list of things to do, the key to productivity is to do fewer things for more effect instead.
3. SET 3 GOALS EACH DAY
I learned this trick in The Productivity Project by Chris Bailey. The idea is to take 5 minutes each morning to write down the 3 things you want to accomplish by the end of the day. You must ensure the list is manageable, especially since life has a way of throwing us curve balls that make it impossible to get through an entire laundry list of action items, and you then dedicate your most productive time to accomplishing those 3 things.
4. MANAGE YOUR ENERGY PROPERLY
While most of us are good at managing our TIME effectively, I was recently introduced to the idea of managing our ENERGY effectively, and it’s made a huge difference. Once you pinpoint when you are at your most productive – for me, it’s first thing in the morning after I drop my daughter off at school – you must organize your schedule such that you can take advantage of that time to tackle your most important tasks.
5. WORK IN BATCHES
‘Batching’ involves grouping relevant tasks together and tackling them in one go, rather than splitting them up over the course of a few days. Many people do this in work settings, but what few people realize is how effective it can be in our personal lives as well. Set aside an afternoon or evening each week to take care of mindless tasks – cleaning, laundry, doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping – so you aren’t constantly borrowing time needed for more important tasks several times throughout the week.
6. TURN OFF ALL DISTRACTIONS
We’re all guilty of getting sucked into the wonderful world of social media, and often turn on a bad movie when we’re working on things that don’t require our full attention, but we tend to underestimate just how much time those little distractions take away from the bigger picture. So shut down your mail program, log out of your social media accounts, turn the TV off, and FOCUS on the task at hand so you’ll have more time to play later.
7. PLAN AHEAD
While sending yourself email reminders and tacking post-it notes around the house may be effective in ensuring you don’t forget something, I recently stumbled upon a planner that has helped keep me organized and accountable each day. It’s called the Day Designer, and it has been a life changer for me. Its simple, guided framework helps me understand where my focus needs to be, and it allows me to set short-term and long-term goals and plan ahead so that I can achieve those goals without neglecting everything else on my never-ending list of things to do.
I spend 10-15 minutes planning my week every Sunday using my Day Designer, and then all I need to do is check in each morning to confirm what my top 3 goals are for the day and check in one more time each evening to make adjustments for the following day if needed. It is absolutely fabulous, and is my gift of choice to family and friends because I simply don’t know how I would survive without it!
I could go on and on and share other productivity tricks that work for me, but these 7 strategies have been the most effective in helping me identify my biggest goals and setting myself on a path to actually achieve them.
My challenge to you today is to set aside some time to figure out where you want to go from here. What are your dreams and goals? Don’t be afraid to think big. Next, figure out what ONE Thing you need to do to make those dreams a reality. And finally, put together a plan to help you work more effectively so you can accomplish all of your goals without feeling like you’re short-changing someone or something.
Paul J. Meyer once said, ‘Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.’
I can’t wait to prove him right.
How about you?
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