We hear from many of our achievers that one of the biggest obstacles they face in their entrepreneurial ventures is time. I feel bold enough to say that everyone struggles with time. The one thing I hear most people say after a long day of work is, “There’s just not enough time in the day to do everything there is to do.”
Many people claim that they are too busy. Others say that there isn’t enough time in the day to achieve their goals. Most of the responses we hear become excuses for the lack of skill necessary to manage one’s time. If there isn’t enough time in the day then don’t we all become victims of time? Amplified Minds refuses to associate with the victim mentality.
Financial guru and the get-out-of-debt master, Dave Ramsey, often tells his listeners on the Dave Ramsey Show that when you take the time to budget your expected income and expenses each month you’ll immediately learn where your money is going and then you will know what you can nix in order to save more money. Dave says that it will feel like you received an additional payday because you found wasted money and put it back into your pocket.
Much like Ramsey’s budgeting theory, the same applies to your daily schedule. When you take the time to look at your calendar and ‘budget’ the priorities or schedule the fixed meetings and events, you will find more time available each day.
I’ve met dozens of individuals who have sworn by their planning methods. I’ve purchased several different physical and virtual day planners over the years. All of them have been helpful and have given me purpose and better direction, but none of them have been as simple as I had hoped. It often comes down to your fundamental daily habits to create valuable and fulfilling days.
We believe that where you spend the majority of your time and your money, there also will be your focus and your mind. Time management isn’t about getting a hold of your schedule, it’s about being intentional about how you control your life. Here are four secrets we’ve learned for successful, life-controlling habits through time management.
3 daily priorities
The iconic phrase, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” speaks truth to most things in life. If you start your regularly-scheduled days without a plan of action and a list of priorities, that day will lack in true progress towards your goals. Some experts would say to prioritize each day by focusing on what you most need to get done. We advise everyone to limit main priorities to 3 things. When you have 3 main objectives that you focus on your day will be much more fulfilling. There are priorities and then there are daily tasks. Learn to identify and separate the two.
It may sound too difficult to start your day working solely on the 3 things you need to get done, especially when there are endless meetings, interruptions, and other time-consuming variables. However, when you attack the most important things first each day, you progress much faster towards your goals. Develop a habit of scheduling meetings and availability for interruptions for the afternoons. Start each day with an objective and 3 main priorities and watch productivity escalate.
The term time blocking literally means to block out time frames in your daily schedule to work on specified projects. We advise that for tasks that require a lot of mental power should be addressed first. When you block time out for task items it creates a window of space in the day for you to work on that specific item. It’s important that when you time block for specific projects that you stay true to your allotted time.
Time blocking can be crucial for your work and life balance. We advise blocking out time for family, food, stretching, standing, exercise, and even naps or resting–doing so will improve your schedule, productivity, and daily success. If you time-block 30 minutes a day to participate in yoga, meditation, or activities where your eyes are away from an electronic screen or device, you will notice an increase in your ability to focus. Research suggests that if you are intentional about everything you do, your ability to focus may improve.
At Amplified Minds, we time block 15 minutes every day to go on a company “walkabout,” which is a technology-less walk with co-workers outside. Sometimes we take 10-minute breaks to play a mindless video game or play a rough-house game of H.O.R.S.E in the office just to give our brains a break, increase blood flow and to break up the daily routines. Start time blocking the 3 priorities as mentioned above.
With your 3 daily priorities and having them blocked in your schedule, it is vital to taking control and remain committed to your objectives. When you start late, go over in meetings, change focus mid-project, or get off topic, you are training your mind to accept wasted time. Your brain works naturally to create habits that are comfortable and residual. Create habits of intentional focus and obedience to your schedule. I know that controlling other people is utterly impossible, but suggesting short, focused discussions in meetings is something we can all gain respect for from others. Don’t deviate from your plans–your goals depend on it.
There is a reason why it is advised to set time aside for your main 3 tasks as early as you can. The human brain is typically most awake, alert, and focused in the mornings and early hours of the day. The best time to obtain knowledge, read a book, or to create value during your day is in the mornings, specifically just shortly after you wake up. I am not suggesting you work right when you wake up, but I am suggesting that your mind is most fresh when you first start work early. Why not use the majority of your brain power for the most important tasks of the day?
Use the afternoons to hold meetings, be interrupted, have brainstorming sessions, and work on projects with others. Because your brain has lessened its full capacity to focus after a full morning, the afternoons are an excellent time to accomplish group projects and menial and repetitive to-do items.
When is the last time you completed a day of work without using a computer, phone, printer, machine or vehicle? Technology is vital to the majority of our daily tasks. When you are intentional about your schedule, you need to also unplug, turn off notifications, lock your doors, appear unavailable online and in the office in order to get the best work done. Productivity stems from lack of distractions. Technology is also the curator for natural distractions. Putting your cell phone face down and only checking it at scheduled times during the day is one of the many things you can do to limit distractions. Time block room in your day for scheduled distractions like phone use, blood-pumping exercises, and anything else that if done spontaneously could lead to distractions.
Checking emails in the afternoons or during an allotted time gives you more flexibility in the mornings to work on objectives. When you share your schedule with your co-workers and your team, make sure you communicate with them the importance of your schedule and that your availability is typically in the afternoons. At least having that communication may limit the distractions at work, which is your ultimate goal in controlling your life.
If at the end of every day you measured how much work you accomplished, how much closer you moved towards your goals and dreams, you would find that everyday lacks perfection. However, you may find that schedule management and task mastery will ultimately lead to achievement, success and a sense of life-fulfillment.