Do you ever feel like there's not enough time to accomplish everything you set out to do in 24 hours? As entrepreneurs with busy social lives and other obligations, it's a fine balance to juggle it all. At times, you may even feel like you're living out your very own reality soap opera, but without the cameras. Like sand through the hourglass, these are the days of our lives.
Here are three time management tactics to help create some space in your schedule, and to improve your efficiency in getting 'er done.
1. Get up earlier.
It seems as if recently, there have been many articles written about how successful and happier people get up at 5:00am. For a natural night owl like me, the mere thought of getting up at this hour seemed like torture, and really didn't appeal to me. But, over the past two weeks, I've tried it out and it's not so bad, because I consider the extra hours that getting up early has added to my schedule as a serious bleeping miracle. I have magically created time and space in my life that I wouldn't have had otherwise.
When I get home after a long day at work, my body and mind go into relaxation mode. The last thing I want to do is open up my laptop and start working again. I also prefer going to the gym at night, so by the time I get home, there is no way I'm going back to into work mode, unless I'm excited about a certain project, or a deadline is looming.
The 5:00am Club presupposes that you're able to achieve more, and be more efficient at eliminating tasks early in the morning, precisely because nobody else is awake at this hour, flooding your email inbox, or dropping into your office for check ins. You can therefore devote more time to your passion projects, and squeeze in time for exercise, meditation, and journaling too. True story.
2. Prioritize your tasks. Create two "to do" lists, and one "done" list.
Does your to do list resemble a life goals bucket list? Do items on your to do list often span from things like "Take out the trash" to "Learn how to play the Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven on the recorder?". In her recent vlog, YouTube phenomenon Lilly Singh chides, "Post it notes aren't genies, they don't make wishes come true. Aladdin took place in Agrabah, not effing Office Depot." In other words, it's time to check yourself before you wreck yourself.
As I wrote in my first blog, "Fortune Favours the Bold", it's easy to fall into the trap of analysis paralysis when you have a million and one things to cross off your to do list. To avoid this trap, write down everything that you need to do. Then, create two seperate to do lists; one for long term goals, and one for day to day tasks that must be accomplished. This is the act of prioritizing. Another helpful tip is that you really have to put the smack down on yourself when going through this exercise. Tough love. I know you're really tired - but you can absolutely not take a nap right now. No. Singh muses, "This is the effing Buckley's of work guidelines. Tastes terrible but it works. As a side note, you should not be eating these guidelines."
Make a third list called "done", where you can migrate the tasks that get finished to, instead of just striking through those items, or removing them from the list. It's important to do this so that you can see all of the work you have accomplished in a day, and to take some satisfaction from your achievements. Little by little, a little becomes a lot.
As a side bar, Lilly Singh is also known as IISuperwomanII on social media networks. She is a Canadian YouTube entertainer with 8 million channel subscribers. She recently released a full length movie, and was featured on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Her net worth is estimated at $2.5 million, which she's earned through making homemade YouTube videos. If you're unfamiliar with her work, you should probably get acquainted with it now. She's an everyday person like you and me. And if Lilly can make her dreams come true, so can you.
In fact, she posits that if you aren't bone weary when your head hits your pillow at the end of the day, then you probably haven't worked hard enough. Be relentless in the pursuit of your dreams. Get ish done.
3. Apply the Pomodoro technique.
If procrastinating was a sport, most of us would be Olympic gold medalists. On my long to do list, I often gravitate towards tasks that I know I'll enjoy, or are quick wins. So, how do you tackle the less pleasant or more daunting items on your to do list? Apply the Pomodoro technique.
The Pomodoro method was invented in the late 1980s by Francesco Cirillo when he was a university student.
This time management technique was designed so that you can break any task into 25 minute intervals of work, with 5 minute breaks between each interval. During the breaks, you can reward yourself by partaking in your procrastination behaviour: checking Facebook or emails, watching TV, surfing the Internet, texting your friends. A full pomodoro set is 4 intervals. The more sets you complete, the longer the breaks you can take in between sets.
The goal of the technique is to minimize the internal and external interruptions on an individual's focus and flow. The fancy "Pomodoro" name originates from a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato that Cirillo used to time his breaks. Also a true story!
I hope you'll try one of these time management hacks this week, and be amazed at the hours you'll gain in the time/space continuum. Let me know how it goes. Holler at me: firstname.lastname@example.org.