If You Never Have Enough Time, Notice Where Time Leaks…Then Declutter Your Routine

Photo by Kelly Jean on Unsplash

In the current smartphone age, you are highly accessible and distractible.

It’s an unquestioned truth of modern life: we are starved for time. Time pressures are multiplying at a dizzying rate.

Time is a non-renewable resource, wherever you are, whatever the time of day. Try your best to plan it out and make the most of it.

While there’s nothing that can be done for past time, there are certainly things that you can do create more time: to be more productive.

You can take ownership of your time and do more great work.

Start tracking your time, seriously!

Track your daily activities for some time to clearly see where your time is being spent. Meetings, phone calls, emails, notifications, small chats, and many other distractions are constantly splitting your attention.

Record ALL your appointments, deadlines, and everything in-between. Analyse the actual time you spend on each activity with what you think is the best amount for each.

Schedule everything. Schedule your days a week in advance. Make a plan and know what’s going on each day.

Notice where time leaks, then declutter your routine.

After interviewing dozens of successful, happy people, Laura Vanderkam, author of 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think realized that they allocate their time differently than most of us.

You can choose how to spend your 168 hours.

Become proactive, not reactive

The first step to reclaiming more time from your day is to get hold of the big chunks that aren’t being put to good use.

You are probably spending most of your productive time in reactive mode. Many people are constantly responding to emails, sitting in pointless meetings and dealing with other people’s “emergencies.”

What are your personal goals? Are your daily activities and tasks advancing you closer to your life’s ultimate goal?

Which activities get you the most results? Focus on those and cut the waste.

Frequently purge the items on your to-do list that won’t deliver results.

By managing your time as you would a small business, you can cut the excess and focus on what you really find most rewarding.

Reduce your commitments

How you choose to spend your time defines your priorities.

Your commitments can have a significant impact on your time. Take a look at each area of your life and write down all of your commitments.

Seeing it all written down can be quite an eye-opening experience, as well as overwhelming.

While there are some commitments we can’t escape, such as work and family, others we can.

You have the right to allocate your own time.

Begin to cut back on the time you spend helping others get their tasks done and start focusing on what you can do to help you reach your goals faster.

Learn how to say no and decline offers. Accept to work on projects that brings out the best in you and enhance your total well-being.

Don’t feel guilty. If you don’t like the way you spend your time, simply change it.

Life is too short to work on anything you hate and everything that take away your precious time.

If you eliminate the things that don’t bring you joy or value, you’ll have more time for the things that you love.

Make the most of your gap time

After 90 minutes of meeting, working, thinking, and pushing emails, your will to work will be in bad place. Take a productive break.

Put your gap time to good use.

Anywhere from 1–3 hours of your day is probably spent in “gap time.”

Gap times are those between meaningful activities but aren’t normally long enough to get more done. Or the time you need to recover from deep work.

Commuting to work, waiting in line, small talks at the office, small breaks in your schedule, long breaks from work and everything you do when you are not actively working on your tasks for the day.

You can listen to a podcast, learn a language, take a walk to think, read a book, read the articles you’ve bookmarked, plan the rest of your day, or better still take a productive pause to clear your mind.

You should be as strategic about your breaks as you are about your day in general. It’s critical to make the most of your break and remind yourself that by taking a productive pause, you will accomplish more in the long run.

Most people accomplish more in short bursts with breaks in between, so organizing your schedule around these natural energy peaks will help you be more productive.

Beware of “Time Bullies”

These are the people that invade your time and and try to get you to do reactive work. It’s the client that interrupts your vacation with frequency calls or emails. And the colleague at work who needs helps all the time.

It has become expected, even acceptable, for people to steal your time.

Don’t let these bullies push you around.

If you do not protect your calendar, then others will abuse it.

When you’re on the clock that’s your time for your work. But when it’s your lunch hour, you’re off-the-clock. Remember, that that time is YOURS.

There is a simple way to prevent this from happening. Learn how to say “no” when you’re busy.

Be protective of your greatest asset.

Just like any investor, put your time to good use. Don’t apologize for choosing to invest wisely.

Cut back on push notifications

Push notifications are ruining my life. You don’t even have to read those messages for your mental gears to toggle off what you are focusing on.

A Deloitte study in 2016 found that people look at their phones 47 times a day on average.

Kill your notifications. Yes, really. Turn them all off.

Smartphones aren’t your problem. It’s all the buzzing and dinging, endlessly calling for your attention.

The start-stop process on projects in killing your productivity. Push notification is your greatest enemy.

Decide ahead of time how to spend your time. Block and tackle your key priorities. Schedule them in your calendar. Ignore email. Shut your office door. Turn off notifications on your phone. And get what matters most done.

It’s time to fight distractions. Create an uninterrupted, free-flowing, idea-generating, peaceful space to get work done on time.

Plan tomorrow today

Having a routine of what you will accomplish each day will give you a sense of order and make your life feel less chaotic, saving you the time for planning in the morning.

Investing less than 1% of your time today will make you 10 times more efficient tomorrow. Jack Canfield, says if you’d rather spend your day acting than reacting, you should plan it the night before.

If you have planned your week, or months ahead of time, you know what you will work on tomorrow. Remind yourself.

Spend time planning your next day’s tasks the night before. For every minute you plan, you save minutes in execution. Spend your last 20 minutes every day to reflect, process, and prioritize for the next day. End your day on purpose.

Figuring out the most imperative tasks for tomorrow and scheduling them into a “model day” is one of the best ways to organize your day for maximum results.

Your plan will guide you when distracted and, in the late hours of the day when your willpower is low and it’s difficult to think, the same plan will help you focus on your most important tasks for the day.

Taking 10 minutes or less today to create a plan for tomorrow will give you a head start, keep you on task, boost your productivity and help you accomplish more. Make an appointment with yourself every day to plan tomorrow today.

Set up a system

Once you declutter your routine, and block out all activities that steal your time, you need a system to help you stick to your new way of work.

Setting expectations will help you reduce many unnecessary interruptions.

Write down your system step-by-step and try to follow them as best as you can. Follow your systems and you’ll keep the clutter minimized.

Focus more on functioning “smoothly” rather than quickly. You will improve your productivity and get more done in good time.

Before you go…

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