I was busy.
Between work, my family, trying to keep fit, and squeezing in a little relaxation, there never seemed to be enough hours in the day to get things done. I’d get to the office at 7am, wouldn’t leave until 6pm, ate lunch while processing email, and rushed home so my family had at least a small chance to remember who I was.
That was life until I got serious about managing my time more effectively. Here’s what I’ve learned.
1. You Can’t Manage Time, You Can Only Manage Yourself
Before anything else, I reminded myself of something that I already knew but had never really appreciated: there were 24 hours in the day. Not groundbreaking news, I know, but when you are trying to get your life back in balance it’s useful to start with the basics. As long as you focus on managing time - searching for systems, lists, and tools - you are ignoring the real issue: how to manage yourself.
2. “Too Much to do” and “Not Enough time” are victim words.
Every time you repeat those words, you are letting yourself off the hook for managing yourself. You are blaming circumstances beyond your control and subscribing to victimhood. Of course there is too much to do! Of course there is not enough time! Get used to it!
3. Too Many Priorities Means No Priorities
You cannot have too many priorities. By definition. Priorities are those top few tasks that deserve attention next. If you have too many, you have none. You have to know your top few priorities at any time.
4. The More Priorities You Have, the Less You Will Accomplish
If you have 2-3 priorities, you will complete 2-3 tasks. If you have 4-10, you will complete 1-2. If you have more than 10, you will complete none. I saw this on a Franklin-Covey video and I totally agree. The more items on your list, the more time you spend messing with the list, jumping from task to task, and feeling paralyzed by indecision.
5. Your To-Do Lists Are Crazy
Pull all your lists together. Then try estimating the time needed to accomplish all of those tasks. What are the chances that the total exceeds all available time? Even if you shrink the numbers, convinced that you will suddenly be faster and more focused than ever, I bet the total exceeds the hours in a day.
6. Your To-Do Lists Are Incomplete
Not only are your lists crazy long, they are incomplete. Think about it. Have you included enough time for meetings, email, and phone calls? Questions from customers and staff? Time to sleep, eat, exercise, relax, and call your mother? What about time to search for everything from people to passwords? Or rebooting, correcting credit card expiration dates, and sitting on hold? Everything. Now how do those total hours look? And what are the chances you've anticipated everything likely to pop up? Face it, there are not enough hours in a day!
7. It’s Time to Accept the Fact that You Won’t Finish Everything, and That’s OKAY
As long as you believe you can - or need to! - finish everything, you will be frustrated and ineffective. And as long as you remain in denial, the longer you will avoid making the tough decisions about your top priorities.
When you fail to manage yourself, establish top priorities, and make conscious decisions about what to do and what not to do, the stress is unbelievable and the results aren't pretty. You inbox and meeting schedule control your day, important tasks end up pushed aside for easier ones that can be done quickly, and every week you copy and sort hose To-Do lists hoping they will magically become feasible.
It's time to bite the bullet, narrow your top priorities list to 2 - 3 items at any one time, schedule time on your calendar to tackle those items, and devote the rest of your energy to focusing and getting them done. Quit wasting so much time and energy listing, managing, and prioritizing the things that deserve to fall through the cracks.
If one of your to-do items is researching and implanting ways to better reach your audience, Fire Starter Brands can check that one off for you. With Fire Starter Brands’ innovative workshops and decades of consulting experience, we help organizations build better product, improve local partnerships and produce effective digital, print & face-to-face campaigns that help high volume buyers inspire more visitors.
about the author...
Misty Kjellman is a wife, mother, and incredibly talented Super Mario player living in South Florida. She regularly can be found moving laundry from the washing machine to the dryer, filling orders for chicken nuggets, and rocking out to 90s Alternative in her cargo shorts. She hates long walks on the beach (not a fan of sand), doesn’t like being caught in the rain (wet socks = blistered feet), and isn’t really a fan on pina coladas (not really a fan of coconut, period). Oh, she also has a degree in a totally unrelated subject matter to her current field of work as is common with most Millennials.