However, as we get older we realize that we only have a finite amount of time to do all the things we want to do, and start worrying about how we’re going to get it all done! The problem isn’t that we don’t have enough time, everyone is allotted the same 168 hours in a week. The problem is, most us waste a good deal of time doing things that aren’t all that important.
How many of you go from project to project without finishing one first? You’re working on one project, think of something and start working on something else. Or maybe you’re working on a project, take a break and decide to check Facebook or emails for a few minutes, only to find that two hours have gone by and you’re still checking emails or on Facebook. Or maybe you’re avoiding doing a project and do something not as important instead?
Do you spend most of your time reacting to your environment? Do you answer the phone, or send e-mails and texts while working on a project? Are you always putting out fires? We are often our own worst enemy! It’s not because we’re lazy, it’s because we put everything that we can think of on our to-do list. Then we feel overwhelmed, can’t figure out what’s important and can’t understand why we can’t get it all done. How do we get a handle on achieving what we want?
You might want to get rid of your to-do list! Instead, only list the top five things that need to be done each day, if there’s time left over you can do the “not so important stuff.” Number the items 1 through 5, with one being the most important.
Start working on number one, and when its’ completed start number two. Do Not start the second project until the first is completed! Even if the day gets derailed, you’ll have accomplished something significant, and best of all its finished! You can check it off the list! You’ll feel great, regardless of whatever else happens that day!
How do you figure out what should be done first?
- Determine what your goal is. You must start here! If you don’t know the goal you won’t know what to work on. If you’re working on goals for different areas of your life, that’s okay! Just make sure to write them down and then make a list of the things you need to do to accomplish each goal. Please don’t work on too many areas of your life at one time, you may become overwhelmed and end up not accomplishing anything! Keep it manageable!
Do you want to spend more time with your family?
Do you want to write a book?
Do you want to be an artist?
Do you want to be healthy?
Do you want a promotion?
Do you want a different job?
If your self-employed, what needs to get done to further your business? Etc.
- What’s necessary to achieve your goal? Phone calls, networking, proposals, going to classes, writing, getting up earlier, exercise, meditation, eat more salads, allotting a set amount of quality time with your family, etc? By the way, there is a growing theory that we should get up between 4am and 5am. We are more creative at that hour and it gives us time to start our day stress free.
Getting up early gives us time to meditate, think, exercise, journal and plan our day in a relaxed environment. Even if you don’t want to get up quite that early, try getting up an hour or two before you have to, you’ll be more relaxed and you’re adding more productive hours to your day! Even if you’re a night owl, are you really getting anything productive done, while you’re up? If you are, that’s fantastic, but if you aren’t, you may want to rethink what you’re doing.
- Things that are urgent and must be done immediately, these may or may not be critical to achieving your goals but must be done; such as paying a forgotten bill on the due date!
- What would be nice to get done, but can wait; maybe painting a bedroom.
- Necessary everyday tasks that will become urgent if neglected. For instance; cleaning, going to the grocery store, taking out the trash, bookkeeping, filing, etc. This is a good category to delegate or outsource.
- Prioritize your day from these lists.
- If you have something on your “urgent, must be done immediately” list, start there. To keep from feeling overwhelmed and stressed have as little on this list as possible! You want to be working on important things a little at a time, well before they’re due. For instance, taxes are due April 15th, don’t wait until the 14th or for that matter even the first to start working on them! If you haven’t started yet, start now! This way you can work on them a little at a time. If it’s too overwhelming hire a bookkeeper to help you get everything in order and have them help you put systems in place so next year will be easier!
- After the “urgent” things are done, the next thing on your list should be the top things that are going to help you achieve your goals. Prioritize your list and do the most important ones first. And when you’ve completed those, go on to the next category.
- Set specific times to return calls, check emails, and Facebook, and set a timer so you don’t spend more time then you intend.
- If your phone rings while you’re working on a project, check your caller ID and see if it’s someone you can call back later. If it is, don’t answer the phone! If it’s a family member or you think it’s an emergency, then by all means answer it. Or have an assistant screen your calls for you.
- Utilize programs and apps to make your life easier. Constant contacts, Hootsuite, Cam-card, etc.
- Touch mail and paperwork only once.
When to Hire Someone:
You should hire someone to do things that are a complete waste of your time or outside of your area of expertise! For instance, creating or updating your website, marketing, bookkeeping, cleaning or painting a room in your house. If you struggle doing these things or absolutely hate doing them, or they just take too much of your time, hire someone!
Doing these things, yourself, may take you two to three times longer than someone who’s an expert, or maybe you’ll procrastinate and feel terrible that you’re putting it off. That’s time and energy you could be spending on something more important and more productive, that only you can do! If you have the free time and feel like doing it, that’s fine, but if you’re feeling overwhelmed, then outsource it! Or if it’s something that can wait, then let it go, at least for now!
Outsourcing doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive. Depending on the job you have in mind, you might be able to hire a high school student, a relative or a virtual assistant for a couple hours a week or a month. Freeing yourself up for even a couple of hours can make a huge difference.
The bottom line is to work smarter not harder! Life is too short to be wasting your time and energy on things that don’t matter! Take time every evening to go over your list and choose the top five most important things you need to do the next day. Go over your list again in the morning to adjust for any emergencies. We all want to eliminate as much stress from our lives as possible and when we take the time to analyze our “to-do” list, and keep it simple, we can at least eliminate some self-imposed stress.