On more than one occasion I have thought If I could just have an extra hour in the day I could get more done. If there were 25 hours in the day would I be more productive? This question stopped me in my tracks and gave me the opportunity to make a change in my life.
My awakening happened when I realized that adding another hour to the day wouldn’t equate to me being more productive. My ability to be productive didn’t depend on the hours in my day. It was directly associated with how I spent my hours in the day.
This realization was powerful for me and changed how I operate in every aspect of my life. Since I have made these changes, I have been able to achieve more of my goals and experience the feeling of completion at the end of the day. Here is how I made it happen and you can too.
1. Realize that you create time
If you think that time happens and you are forced to work within its boundaries, you have to change your perspective. You are the creator of your time. Your actions of setting boundaries and saying no creates time. The power of time creation is directly in your control.
You get to decide how you spend every minute of your day. Viewing time this way is very empowering and can remind you that you are in direct control. At work, you may not feel like you have this kind of power, but you do. How you choose to spend each hour depends on you.
2. Identify your time vampires
Do you know what is draining your time? Start by identifying what small and large things are taking away your time. Are you spending hours each day on social media? Are you watching TV and realize that 3 hours has passed?
If you don’t know where your time is going, then how can you do anything about it. You don’t realize how much time specific tasks and people are taking away from you. The biggest struggle that you may have is understanding that you will have to say no to people and this can be hard because you worry about what they may think. The only way to get your time back is to take action.
3. Slay your time vampires
Now that you realize what is killing your time you can do something about it. This is where an action is key and your ability to say no maters. Since you are responsible for creating time, you have to improve your accountability with yourself. This can be hard especially if you struggle to speak up about what you need. If you want an extra hour in your day, you have to create it by saying no to other things.
If you are getting a ton of emails, look to see which ones you can unsubscribe from. Small actions like this add up. To feel more productive, you have to be willing to go to bed an hour earlier and miss out on a TV show so you can get up an hour earlier. If your ideal worktime is earlier in the day, this extra hour can give you the time you are looking for. No one will hand you extra time; you have to slay your time vampires to create it.
4. Be realistic with your time
It is easy to say that you will complete a project this weekend, but have you calculated an estimate of how many hours it will take? Many people don’t think about how much time tasks take to accomplish. When they don’t finish a project, they set out to complete, they get discouraged and frustrated. Instead overestimate the time a project will take versus underestimating it.
You have to be realistic about how much time you have to spend on tasks. If you have overcommitted yourself, then you are unrealistic. You need to deal with whatever self-talk is happening in your head and say no to some of these commitments. If you need a pep talk or need to feel better about saying no, remember that they deserve you at your best. You can’t give this if you are stressed, anxious, or overcommitted. Be realistic about how much time you have to commit to a committee, project, or task.
5. Being busy doesn’t equal being productive
What if the next time someone asks you how you are doing, instead of saying I’m busy you said I’m productive? Does this sound weird? Think about how many times you or someone you know says how busy they are. It’s okay to be busy but ask yourself if you are productive. These are two very different things.
Being busy can make you feel like you are doing what you need to do at work, home, socially, or in the community. However, busy doesn’t equate to being productive. You can’t move forward with your goals if you are just busy. To be productive, you need to change how you work. Start by reviewing the first four tips again and figure out what boundaries you need to establish with yourself as well as others. The next time you feel overwhelmed or busy, stop and make sure that you are productive instead.
Do not be afraid to ask for help from those around you. It doesn’t mean that you are weak or can’t do it on your own. Your ability to ask for help shows how smart you are and that you know what you need to succeed. We are all equally given 24 hours in a day. It is up to you how you spend it. What small changes can you make to be more productive? What is your biggest struggle with your time?