Do You Really Need More Time In The Day?

No amount of money can buy you a 25 hour day. Yet, time is surely the one thing most people would pay-up for to stay ahead of obligations at work and home. While the average person may feel there aren’t enough hours in the day, many successful people have achieved great feats with the same amount of time that we are all up against. With a better handle on your day, you too can get more meaningful things done without feeling guilty that you haven’t done enough.

Here’s a few ideas I work on with my coaching clients so they can be more productive and less stressed over the time they have:

  1. Say No. The number one thing we can do to buy more time is to learn how to say no. Most of your day is filled with that which other people want from you. Take a look at your inbox — I’m guessing none of those email requests were notes to self. Most of us were taught to help others, especially in the workplace. The unintended consequence of this is overcommitment and overwhelm. Learn how to be comfortable saying no to people. Trust in others to take care of themselves and make an effort to delegate some of your own responsibilities where you can.
  2. Prioritize. People don’t like to hear this, but you can’t do everything. The best leaders know this. That’s why they excel in setting a limited number of goals for the day while avoiding everything else that doesn’t move them forward in achieving those goals. Pick a few things you want to tackle, and don’t sweat the rest. You’ll be better off adding high quality value in a limited amount of verticals rather than marginal value over a broad swath of objectives.
  3. Focus. The first lesson I learned on the job was to be proactive rather than reactive. The explicit message was to take charge. But the implicit message was much more powerful — focus on what you want to achieve and don’t let anything else distract you. Today, most of our distractions are digital in nature. While a 30 second check of social media might not seem like much, studies show it takes us 23 minutes to refocus on our original task. Distractions derail your mental progress and destroy your daily productivity.

Everything in life is a choice and you control your choices. So next time someone asks you to do something that they could do themselves or you decide to tackle every task you can think of, be mindful of the opportunity costs associated with those choices. Focus on those few things that matter most to you and you’ll quickly find that you’ve got plenty of time to contribute in a meaningful way at work, home and in society.

Alex Green is an ICF credentialed executive coach and leadership development consultant. He helps companies and nonprofit organizations succeed by improving the effectiveness of their leaders, management teams and board of directors. You can find him on Twitter @agthreesixty and LinkedIn.