I don’t know about you, but I find there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything I want to and should do! We can’t manage time, but we can manage how we use our time. It is a precious commodity and you and I both squander it. Let’s get serious about taking control of how we spend our time!
If you are saying, “Nope, not me, I’ve got a system in place” then I would love you to leave a comment and spill the beans on what works for you!
I’m not a slacker, nor are you. There’s the overflowing laundry basket of clean clothes sitting on the floor in my bedroom that has been gnawing at me for two days. Then there is the sink filled with dishes and a clean dishwasher that needs to be unloaded. And let’s not forget the emails I have to respond to, the projects for work that are half completed and a host of other “to dos” that I carry in my mind and written down on scraps of paper somewhere! Does any of this sound familiar?
This is me! I am the queen of procrastination. I wait until the last minute to do everything. It wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t worry about the deadlines, but I do and that causes stress. But I have a secret I have been using. Do you want to hear it? First, I want to thank all the folks who help me with this, whether they know it or not!
I partner up with people who are doers. I purposely seek out and hang with people who do not procrastinate. After I have confessed my sin to them, I enlist their help in holding me accountable. I share my due dates with them and I know that once I’ve done that, I can’t let them down.
Who is holding you accountable for doing the things you need to do? There is no excuse why you can’t find an accountability partner. Zero. If you procrastinate, go find one today!
I sign up for way too many things- events and volunteer projects that seem great at the time. I do this because I do want to help and in some cases I am flattered someone asked me for help. However, most of the commitments I make are “interesting” but not critical to my focus and mission. Yes, they usually make me feel good, but at the end I usually feel they weren’t the best use of my time which, of course, causes more stress.
The magic formula is to just say NO. This is difficult. But at the end of the day, you need to feel like you have used your time well, without guilt. If saying no flat out is difficult, you could say something like, “I would love to but can’t. Have you thought about asking Betty Sue? She might be a great resource.”
I make excuses to justify how I spend my time on frivolous projects or taking too much time to do things. But I know the truth. I wasted my time and unless I put a mechanism in place, I’ll do it again.
Suggestions on How You Can Gain Control
If your to-do list is 40 items long, you will never get through it. Be real. If you regularly can’t get through all the items on your to do list, either you have too many or the action item is too big. Chunk down big to-dos into smaller pieces.
Work in Small Increments at a Time
Set a timer and work in 45-60 minute intervals. Chose the task you want to conquer and go! This is supposed to keep you focused. Reward yourself with a 5-10 minute break and repeat! Have you heard of the Pomodoro Technique?
Use a Calendar
Use blocks of time on your calendar for every to-do item. If you don’t block it off, guess what? Other “emergencies” crop up and take your time and at the end of the day you often wonder…where did the day go!
Tame the Email Beast
The biggest time-waster is email. There is absolutely no reason you need to check it all the time. Experts advise checking it twice a day. And set a timer, I might add. Give yourself a specific amount of time to sift through your inbox. Using your phone to check email is just as dangerous. Consider turning off email on your phone during times you need to focus.
More Reading: (hint, reading these articles may be a form of procrastination or an undisciplined use of your time!)
Here are some helpful articles with additional resources to help you allocate your time wisely and efficiently:
24 Ways to be Uncommonly Productive Today from Forbes