I am a big fan of the television show Suits. It is a little break from my fast paced life … although I rarely have time to watch or so I thought.
My regular week is jam packed with multiple companies, client’s demands, building the business projects and family commitments as well. If you asked me, I can’t jam another thing into my calendar. It is full from early morning until the moment I go to bed. This was my reality. No additional room available for anything … until the next season of Suits became available.
I downloaded Suits season 4 from iTunes and within the first week managed to find 4.5 new hours where I could watch episodes. I covered off 6 episodes in a week that was packed, no more time available, nothing else I could accomplish. How is this possible?
All of us manage our time, or control our time emotionally. We select items to do that we enjoy long before we organize it based on what needs to be done. Now sometimes deadlines and pressures from others can move our selections to be logical first. Most of the time, we logically manage through tasks but we emotionally select the tasks and order in which we do things first. This is the key – controlling the emotions and also understanding how we can best structure things.
So here are 5 great tools to get more control back into your time, increase your productivity overall and drive more enjoyment:
1. Schedule Time for What you Love – if you love Suits or going for a run or drinking a cold beverage, schedule it. Now limit the time available for it so you’re not watching a whole season or consuming a whole bottle but set time aside in your calendar that is designated as downtime or personal time. 30-45 minutes is ideal. Keep it under one hour.
2. Prioritize the Ones you Hate – we often waste more time fearing actions than it takes to do them. So select the one item you want to do least from your list and tackle it at the start of the day. This task often is complete within the first hour of the day and gives you a sense of empowerment and satisfaction.
3. Flex Calendar Entries – your calendar is not designed to be a black out bingo card but often if you don’t fill all the spaces, items expand to fill available time and others fill empty time slots. Create appointments that are actually open time or flexible time. Much like office hours, these flex times can be used as you need based on what’s most important. Use two types of Flex Appointments – personal and business to ensure you are succeeding at both.
4. Balance Routine with Innovative – no one can go through each week with the exact same schedule and routine. Most people emotionally correct this by not following their calendar. The better alternative is to have items you can add innovation or change to, within the calendar. Designated Friday as the day you go for lunch now includes always choosing a different location. Internal weekly meetings can mean a different snack/treat included or unique locations (coffee shop or outside in the summer) to keep it fresh but to keep your schedule intact.
5. Delegate to the Max – few owners effectively delegate to their team. Each time your to-do list is updated, it should be reviewed a second time to mark off all the items that can (and should) be delegated out. This practice becomes easier with repetition and starts to empower the team and the owner alike. Delegation is not abdication – all delegated items should also have feedback and reporting built in.
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