Time Management Secrets of The Most Productive People.
Over the many years, I have been fascinated with time management and productivity I have devoured multiple books, articles and videos on how incredibly successful and productive people manage their time and their work.
What has interested me are common traits these people have followed, and you can easily replicate these traits if you are serious about getting in control of your time.
So in no specific order here are those traits:
Don’t blame other people for your lack of time.
I’ve never heard any story where Nicolai Tesla, Thomas Edison or Steve Jobs blamed their lack of project progress on other people. These people carved out enough time to get their work done — often working late into the night if necessary — to get the job done.
The problem with blaming other people (or making excuses) is you are taking the easy way out, and it soon becomes a false belief. No. No. No! Your perceived lack of time is not someone else’s fault. Your perceived lack of time is entirely on you and the way you manage time.
I had a comment recently from a viewer on my YouTube channel who wrote how he’d tried everything, and nothing worked for him. How other people were always sabotaging his day and that for him, it was impossible to find any productivity system that works for him. The fact he was using phrases such as “it’s impossible”, “I’ve tried everything” and “nothing works for me” means he will never find a solution. Not because there is no solution — there is always a solution — but because he has a self-destructive false belief that will stop him from finding that solution.
The most productive people take full responsibility for their time and never make excuses or blame other people. If it’s important enough, you will find the time. If it’s not, you will always find an excuse.
Know your high-value and low-value tasks
This is a trait that stands out with all highly productive people. They are clear about which parts of their work drive their projects and goals forward and which parts do not.
Most of your meetings are a complete waste of time. The 80:20 ratio applies here. If you were honest with yourself, you would likely identify only 20% of your meetings each week gave you any value. The rest are low-value and do not help you move things forward. If you want to be more effective, purge those low-value meetings. No excuses (see above) take responsibility and find ways to avoid those low-value meetings.
You will also see that 80% of the work you do each week is of low-value. Spending a little time to write out what your low value and high-value tasks will help you to identify where you should spend more of your time.
For me, any time I spend creating content is of high-value. Writing this blog post is of high-value. Rearranging my projects in my notes app, or to-do list manager is low-value. Doing my daily and weekly planning sessions is high-value. Gossiping about other people is extremely low-value.
Choose your work carefully. Spend 80% of your time on the high-value stuff and either minimise, eliminate, delegate or automate the low-value tasks.
Keep your ‘system’ simple
Isaac Newton, Leonardo Da Vinci, Warren Buffett and Sir Richard Branson used/use notebooks. All their ideas, tasks and goals are/were written down in a simple notebook. Nothing complicated. A new day a new page.
The most unproductive people I come across have multiple apps with complex hierarchical folder structures that demand a lot of maintenance.
The simpler the system you have, the more time you have to do your work. All you need is a list of the things you want to complete today and a calendar that shows you where you need to be at any given time in the day. That’s it. Anything more elaborate than that and you are moving into the territory of over-complication.
The Time Sector System came about because I saw how managing my tasks by project had become a significant drag on my time. I felt the need to be continually managing those projects and checking and reviewing, and when I was doing that, I was not doing the work. What really matters is when are you going to do the work? If you don’t have time, it does not matter how important, urgent or priority. You do not have time. It will not get done.
Being obsessed with seeing what you have and have not completed is not a productive use of your time. All you need do is identify what needs doing to complete the project or achieve the goal and focus on doing those tasks. What’s been completed is in the past. It’s done. Now focus on what needs doing next. Never lose sight of your outcome.
Take care of your health
Satya Nadella, Tim Cook, Jack Dorsey, Sir Richard Branson, Tony Robbins, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson make time for exercise every day. Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein and Friedrich Nietzsche took long walks every day.
No matter how busy you are, if you are not taking care of your physical and mental health, eating right and getting enough sleep, you are destroying your productivity. Without your overall health, you will feel sluggish, tired and eventually get sick.
Can you afford to be off work sick? If you already struggle with your time management, how will being stuck in bed ill, help that? It won’t.
Prioritise your health. Make sure you are taking care of your sleep, physical fitness, hydration and diet. This means you make time each day for at least thirty minutes of exercise; you eat healthily, drink enough water and get enough sleep.
This is where the Eisenhower Matrix can help you. The important but not urgent areas of your life — planning, exercise and rest, for example — need to be prioritised. If you are not making time for these each day, you will break down physically and mentally.
This is how your calendar enters the mix. When you do your weekly planning session, you make sure these maintenance areas of your life are built-in first, and they are non-negotiable. Make meetings negotiable, but never allow you health and physical maintenance become negotiable.
These four areas of life are essential if you want to not only be successful at what you do but also become a highly focused and productive individual. If not, then you can ignore these areas. But if you do ignore them, then you must accept full responsibility for the consequences on your career, health and well-being. You do not have an excuse. You have a choice.
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