1. Start Your Day Earlier: Get up Earlier: The key to wringing more out of your day or getting the most from your time can often be just starting your day earlier. When I have deadlines to hit and projects to complete I have the habit of getting up earlier.
It can mean that I complete my previous day earlier by going to bed earlier. If you are like me, the evening time is rarely a time that I can work on projects and important tasks. I am generally too tired to be able to focus well. I am much better off hitting my sleep pattern earlier in the evening so I can get up earlier in the morning. I have been known to go to bed at 8:00 p.m. or earlier but get up at 2:00 a.m. That way the house is quiet. I can establish a time where I can increase my high focus production time.
I find that the most successful people and time managers have one thing in common. They are early risers. The old fable “Early to bed and early to rise makes you healthy, wealthy and wise” is true. If you just get up a half hour earlier each day, those 30 minutes add another 182 1/2 hours to your year. You gain an extra 23 days of eight-hour work days in a year. It’s like you have added more than another month to your year. You have established a wonderful new habit in only 30 minutes a day of reduced sleep.
2. Plan Your Day in Advance: Being able to plan your work and work your plan is a habit of high achievers. Establishing your objectives, priorities, and agenda for tomorrow before you leave today will increase your effectiveness in your business and life. Ask yourself these questions:
- What didn’t I get done today?
- What did I do really well today?
- What could have I done better?
- What really frustrated me today?
- What do I wish I had been able to do today?
- How was today on a scale of 1-10 and why?
- What priorities do my boss, my customers, or my employees need me to accomplish?
- What is the most important thing I need to do first tomorrow?
- What does my family need from me when I get home?
You need to be able to ask yourself some key questions to make sure you are on the track to your habit of time management and success.
3. Eat Healthy and Exercise Regularly: That might not seem like a time management habit or tip but it is really important. When we are not in shape physically and we do not have the proper fuel for our bodies it affects our time management. It takes us longer to accomplish tasks. We waste time because we are not physically able to keep pace with others or the pace we need to complete our objectives and advance our career.
There is a direct connection between your physical health and your usage of time. If you are overweight and out of shape it takes longer to do anything and everything. It takes longer to write a report, walk from your car to the office, fix dinner, or even get dressed in the morning.
Reducing your fat intake, lowering your carbohydrates, eating lean protein, and reducing your portion sizes will help shed excess weight. Increasing our use of strength conditioning will increase our metabolism because we have increased our muscle mass and muscle will burn more calories than fat. By doing cardio vascular training three times a week such as bike riding, walking, running and swimming we can increase our stamina. You might mix up your workout to avoid boredom. Try a number of different cardio options to keep it fresh.
4. Spend Time in Quiet Time, Prayer, and Meditation: I notice a significant difference in my effectiveness, energy, accomplishments, and my time usage on days when I am on my morning routine of quiet time versus when I am off or omit it. My routine is to get up early and pray, read, and study my devotional Bible each day. When I adhere to that routine I am far more centered spiritually for the day.
To ignore the relationship between our spiritual being inside, our physical bodies, our brains, and our goals and accomplishments is to be naïve. We have a clear connection in all these areas that relates to our use of time and the effectiveness and accomplishments for our day. For me when I give the first of my day to time in “The Word”, prayer, and meditation; more gets accomplished and my time is better spent throughout the day. My focus is intensified and my overall state of mind is much calmer and more patient than if left to myself.
5. Meal Plan for the Whole Week: Whether your feelings of food are being merely fuel to your body or your view of its position is to be indulged and enjoyed, planning ahead is a wise habit to establish.
I learned this habit from my mother. She was very deliberate in meal preparation for the family. She would decide on the family meals for the week in advance. She would select the family meals based on the sale items at the store, special occasions that week and family preferences. She would map out on paper the meals and ingredients she needed to prepare the meals for her hungry family.
She would then go to the store once to collect the groceries for the week. She didn’t operate through impulse buying throughout the week. She didn’t waste her time multiple times a week trying to find a parking spot, getting a cart, walking the aisles of the store, fighting to keep toddlers controlled, waiting in the checkout line, paying the bill and using coupons, loading the groceries in the car, unloading the groceries, taking them in the house, and finally putting them away. She did that necessary part of life once a week rather than numerous times a week as most people do today. What a colossal waste of time because of our lack of vision, decision and organization.
6. Delegate Almost Everything: The best time investors delegate better than most others. They figure out what is really important, valuable, meaningful, and fun and do only those things.
The key in both personal and business life is to delegate the task or activity to the lowest paid competent person. Many of us struggle with this because we don’t want to be viewed by others as being “too good to do _________.” It’s not an elitist view we should take. It’s the efficient and also effective view. Don’t do anything unless it brings you or someone else you love joy.
I can’t say that I am big on playing dolls. I would say that like most men I didn’t grow up playing with dolls. I do know that there is an incredible amount of joy that comes to Annabelle when I get down at her level and play with her dolls. When we have tea parties with her dolls and make believe my joy comes out of seeing her joy come out of her. I wouldn’t delegate doll playing to anyone.
I would gladly and do delegate yard work and any fix it work to anyone skilled enough to take it off my hands. I am willing to pay someone to do these things that matter little to me, my family, or my business. To these things I say, “pass me a doll.”
7. Say No More Often: We all must get in the habit of saying no. We live in an overcommitted, stressed out, rushed world. We have people who want more of our time at work. We have people that want us to contribute our time to the school, the church, the Junior League, business associations, our golf club or athletic club, the kids sports teams, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, United Way, political parties, Cancer Society, MS Society, the hospital, Boys and Girls Clubs, Rotary, Lions. There is an endless list of organizations that need our help and resources. The one resource that they want the most is time.
I am not saying tell all of them no. The truth is we have to say no to some of them because we can’t do all the things most successful people are asked to do. When you become more successful people will seek you out for help. As you get better at your time management your level of success will grow. People will notice there is something different about you. They want what you have and want help because they sense something special about your skills and results. We have to learn to say no!
8. Always Use a Time Management System: Whether you use a Franklin Planner, Day Runner, Day Timer, or CRM you must use something.
You could also just create a time block schedule. It doesn’t matter where you are in your career or who you are, you must have a time management system.
9. Begin Every Day at Zero: Start over and start fresh each day. Resolve to make each day a perfect ten. If you didn’t have a good day yesterday in how you managed your time, give yourself a clean slate to begin anew today. Conversely, if you had a wonderful day yesterday at your time management, don’t let your guard down. A greater day yesterday doesn’t automatically translate to a great day today in your time management. The past is history. The future is a mystery. Today is a gift. That is why they call it the present. Unwrap each day with anticipation and expectation of unfolding a wonderful day of production, success, fulfillment, service to others, results, and relationship building. Use your time to create the largest, best, most significant return on your time invested as possible.
10. Simplify Life: We tend to make our lives more complex than is necessary. We work to fund our lives so our work can overtake our life. Our wants tend to expand significantly beyond our imagination, can overtake our capacity and our willingness to delay our own gratification. If we are faced with ever expanding bills, increasing monthly obligations and debt it makes it difficult to invest our time in other more meaningful pursuits in life beyond working and earning a living to pay the bills.
We need to embrace the habit of being content in all our circumstances. Being content doesn’t mean stuck, or not striving for better. It just means there is a limit to the chase of keeping up with the Joneses. It doesn’t mean to give up, but to be happy and grateful for the things we do have rather than exclusively focusing on the things that we don’t.
There will always be someone with a bigger house, more houses, better cars, more cars, more money or more of anything that you might want. Contrary to pop culture, He who dies with the most toys doesn’t win; He merely dies and leaves most of his toys to the Internal Revenue Service and his family. Live your time, enjoy your time, and simplify so you are not a slave to a lifestyle. An ancient proverb says that the borrower is servant to the lender. The time of the borrower is also servant to the lender.
Want to learn more about time management? Take a look at Dirk’s free white paper, “Getting Control of Your Time Management Monster”.