We are all way too busy these days. How do we let that happen? Even while trying to simplify, the hours are filled with so many things to do.
So instead of tackling the cupboards and closets to keep it simple, today I decided to take on the schedule that fills up our day. While many of these ideas apply to our time online, they adapt just as well to physical tasks as well, whether around the house or at work.
A lot of it has to do with planning. Funny how few minutes it takes to make a list or plan our schedule when we aren’t in the middle of it. Then it can become a distraction that confuses us instead.
Here are fourteen ideas that will help you accomplish more, while at the same time that they make each day a little easier. Most of these can easily become habits that are automatic. That’s what I am shooting for with this list.
Schedule your time for your more effective hours.We start with that since it will pace the rest of the day. We each know when we do our best and more efficient work. Mine is morning. By afternoon the energy and enthusiasm is waning. Make it a point to plan the most urgent or the most difficult for your best hours. Save the easier tasks for your slower time.
Start asking yourself, “Does it need to be on the list?” If the task isn’t really needed, delete it or throw it out. When yo think of it, how many of the jobs you assign yourself are things that need to be done at all?
Get the bad stuff out of the way. This may be the most important one. Do the unpleasant items first, as early in the day as possible. You know, those big jobs that you really don’t want to do. Mine tend to hang over my head, weighing me down without my going near them. If you just get it over with, you will often find it isn’t nearly as bad or as time consuming as you thought it would be. Plus, it leaves you energized, knowing it is done.
Write down what goal you want to achieve. Either the night before or that morning, decide the priorities you will accomplish. I like to do this on Sunday for the week, then break it down briefly the night before. That way, fresh in the morning, I don’t spend an hour deciding what I should do. Once you know your direction, you can spend your time doing instead of planning.
Back away from your phone, texts & email.When you are working on one batch of tasks, turn off the phone, and avoid your email (unless of course, that is the task you are currently working on). Shoot for being left alone. Maybe you won’t need this step for some things, but for the more difficult jobs or those that require concentration it will help.
Do similar tasks in a block of time. Answer emails in one sitting. Make all your phone calls at another. Calling all at once is my favorite. These days with texting and emailing, I tend to put off actual phone calls. It’s much easier to get them done all in one sitting. That usually is a small block of time too, since most are short conversations. Open your actual mail at a specific time. You will find yourself more focused on each task, and waste less time making this a habit. Save social media for a few specific times each day.
Time yourself. That is, put a time limit on how long you will spend on each task. Even for large projects allow 30 minute blocks to get as far as you can. Sometimes knowing there is a limit to your time commitment helps. Plus it often helps you concentrate more. And yes, I mean set an actual timer so you know when time is up.
Set mini goals. Say you have twenty emails to answer, an article or a chapter to write. Tell yourself you won’t get up until that target number is reached.
Start with the jobs that will accomplish the most. Often those are the same as the ones mentioned in Number 3. Because we expect those tasks to be the hardest or most time consuming, we postpone them for smaller, quicker tasks. The feeling you get knowing you’ve done it is so uplifting it will fuel the rest of the day. Without the big job hanging over your head, your mind is freed.
Delegate. If you have someone around who can help, why not use them?. When appropriate, see if they can help you complete your goals for the day. Can they run the errands, do the emails? Take over some of your distractions?
Have a “must be finished” date. Knowing there is a time limit to what you are working on helps keep your mind on the priorities. Without a due date, that item may languish on your list indefinitely. The longer it is on the list the bigger task it seems to become. Without a deadline, you may miss external deadlines. If that should happen, delete it and move on.
Speed it up! Make an effort to do each thing you do a list quicker. Surprisingly, when we think about it, we are able to move faster and get finished faster. Try it! See if you don’t find it really helps.
Eliminate so you have less that you need to do. This suggestion may take some time to implement, but can be so effective. If you take a few minutes and think how you honestly spend your time, consider how to simplify that. One of the first suggestions I give is to spend an hour, during your low energy time, unsubscribing. Be tough. Most of us have signed up for so many daily emails, they now accumulate in our inbox until we have time to read them. 75% of which are from sites we rarely visit or no longer of interest. Yes, delete them, but take the extra few seconds to be removed from their mailing list as well.
Limit your time on social media. For me, this seems to be the biggest time consumer. I go there for a single purpose and find an hour or more has elapsed. This is a perfect time for a time to be used. You decide how much time you have, then stick to it. I strongly urge you to go to the sites only a few times a day, then only spend a short amount of time there.
You know you can friend people without following them. If you are getting too many posts that you aren’t interested in, you might consider unfollowing some. It may be hard, but it will save you time, and the guilt you feel when you’ve wasted it.
All of our online activity is so much like physical clutter. It easily builds up until it becomes oppressive. Don’t let yourself be buried in so much stuff, especially when so much of it is unnecessary. I’m sure you can think of your own time consumers. Give thought to which are necessary and which are just responsibilities that you’ve created for yourself. Then choose to make it easier on yourself and cut some. You’ll be surprised how much it helps.