In the busy world we live in; often time is not enough. According to an APA report from 2020, fifty-three percent of the US people struggle with finishing all the things they have on their calendars. And things get even worse if you combine professional with personal tasks. We need time and often, what we don’t get as a resource for us or our duties is this same time.
In my life, I have often struggled with finding time for one or another task. Late-night stays in the office or work during the weekend were common for me. Until one day, I have said to myself that I will have to find a solution. I started with reading books. And man, there are many books out there on how to organize yourself. Then I visited two courses about how to maintain time to succeed. In the early days of the broadcast, I have also subscribed to three different broadcasts. Nothing helped. I thought I would be in this condition forever. Until one day, my mother called me and asked me if I was ready to ask my father how to deal with this issue of time after ten minutes of general talk.
My father is an entrepreneur who started his business over twenty years ago. He and my mother live in a small city in the north-west part of the country. But despite the small town, my father owns six different businesses and still has time to get home for dinner. During the holiday period, I got home, and on the second day of Christmas, we sat down to talk. The lessons I learned from him help me, even today, stay organized and get the results I have planned while having enough time to spend with my family and wife.
If you are in the same situation like I was, then here is the list of things that helped me not to burn out and be productive and efficient for the last nine years
Create your master list
Many people struggle with finding time because they try to deal with different tasks, coming from different directions simultaneously. That happens because we often separate personal tasks from professional. And while trying to do them all, we do not understand when our calendars are getting full. The master list is the list that contains every task we must fulfill. It would help if you wrote them all down to know how long your list is and prioritize the time you have. The master list is a living document, but the rule must contain all the tasks that are coming to you.
Create a daily list with no more than 8-10 items in it
We often hear about the mythical skill of prioritizing in our work. Some people say that they can not do more than three or four things; others show that they have “managed to fulfill” more than twenty tasks in a day. The main rule of prioritization is getting to the most critical functions for the current moment and stick to them. The reason here is to focus on quality instead of quantity. Each task needs your attention, and if you want to feel happy when you have finished it, you need to give it the attention this task requires. You can choose up to eight or ten tasks and plan time between six and nine hours to finish them for each day.
Get everything from your calendar at the end of the day
What we often do is to let some unfinished tasks in our calendar. Think of it: If this task is so essential for this same day, why did you not put more effort into finishing it within the planned time for it. We often miss what is vital and mislead it with what we think is essential. If a task is still on your list at the end of the day, then its place is not on your priority tasks list.
Write everything you do down
We often miss deadlines and do not deliver promised results because of time. Time is in the mouth of everyone who has to explain a delay. But time is limited, and it is up to us to understand how to use it wisely. To make wise decisions in what to invest your time in, you will need to start writing all the things you do, together with the time supported. Having the timeframes for each task can help plan better and deliver better results within a shorter period.
Plan every evening for the next day
A time-consuming activity I have never thought can lose me so much time was planning at the beginning of the day. Imagine you stay up at 06:00 AM, then you have a morning bath, prepare some clothes, drink your coffee and eat your breakfast and then on your way to the office, you start thinking about the program you will have to build for the day. According to UK research conducted back in 2019, people who use this approach miss up to 38% of the day’s most important things.
Planning is an activity that needs to happen when we are calm and can invest time for it. It works pretty well for me in the evenings, when all my other chores for the day are over. Then I sit down in front of my favorite planning app, open my master list of tasks, and chose those who are essential, and I have to dedicate time for the next day. That simple activity has saved me for the last four years.
Empty your daily list
If you plan in a calendar, you will need to do this exercise twice – once empty the calendar, and the next thing is to open the list of your daily tasks. The tasks list follows the same path. It is also one of your most helpful tools to become better at prioritizing and allocating enough time. If you do not empty your list at the end of the day, the tasks will add to your priorities for the next day. There is nothing wrong with opening your daily agenda and return the tasks from it in your master list if they are still actual. If not, delete them.
Keep your calendar always with you
My father still likes to take his calendar on paper with him. It is a practical action to help you not become overwhelmed. Remember that last time, when you have promised to do something or meet someone at a particular moment in time, to find out after that that you have overlapping activities in this specific moment. The calendar you build is the starting point for your planning. It can save you from promising things you cannot accomplish and will save you from uncomfortable situations. That is why you need to keep your calendar always with you and check what time you have before thanking responsibility for the next task or opportunity offered.
Keep your calendar 20%-40% empty all the time
It is beneficial to balance between planned and unplanned tasks if you are in a leadership role. Most people book all their time and run from meeting to meeting, task to task, etc. Especially if you have a busy schedule, you need to give yourself time to bread. A simple technique that I have learned from my father was to schedule more time than I know I will need for the meeting’s task to focus on the next thing on my agenda. That made my calendar easier to deal with and helped me get to the next appointment or assignment on time, prepared, and calm.
Build an unbreakable chain of success
What I often see and even made in my life was to say something like, “I will do it just this time.” What you start to do fast becomes a habit. Sustaining unbreakable rules on how you will act is crucial for dealing with pressure and your tasks list. What helped me most in these situations when doubting if I can take or take responsibility for another task was the habit. It is not easy to build one, but if you can sustain it in time, it will help you stay organized. The routine is not easy to make, but persistent behavior is the key to maintain results in time. I have written a short notice on a yellow sticky note and put that note on my screen. Every time I am tempted to break my chain of success, I look at the reminder to take me back on the right path.
Save time for yourself
When my father explained to me how he succeeds in work and life, he told me that there is something significant I need to build as a habit. “Give yourself time for yourself- he told me.” At first, I did not understand what he meant, but I have figured it out in time. One crucial element in the process of organizing yourself is the time when you switch off. It is your time, and you use it for things that are important to you. No matter if it is reading a book, watching your favorite series, playing a game, or just staring at the mountain in front of you, the time you plan for yourself plays a crucial role in preparing for the next list. It does not have to be much. But be sure that you will allocate at least thirty minutes for yourself each day.
Being organized and meeting everyday goals in our life and work brings positives for everyone. Many people struggle with achieving what they have planned and searching for the reasons outside of them. But what we must understand is that our success depends on us and what we do defines what we will achieve. Anything else is just a comfortable excuse.