It is no secret that the pandemic has made our time feel very different, especially if you are a remote worker. For some people, there are not enough hours in the day, and for others the days are too long.
Are you doing the most with your time? Time is a resource. And like any other resource, when planned properly, it can have great returns on many areas of your life and work.
Having worked with many executive leaders, I have learned a few key strategies that help them maximize their time and well-being under pressure. Consider applying these tips outside of the realm of work to put them to the test in your personal life as well.
The key is to have control of your time by establishing your priorities and deadlines first! Time management is really just another term for priority management. This change in perspective makes all the difference when you start to look at your time in this way.
Why Do We Lose Control and Procrastinate?
When we lose sight of the value of time, it leaves room for many distractions to appear. Here is a quick example: Your new project is due in 90 days. If you do not realize how fast 90 days goes by, you probably will think you have plenty of time to finish. However, during those 90 days, if you have not set up clear priorities and milestones along the way, there is a high probability you will be rushing your project at the last minute. Procrastination says to you, “We can watch that TV show today and work on that tomorrow. After all, we have 90 days to get it done.”
When you understand the value of time, it leaves very little room for distractions to appear. Here is another quick example: Your project is due in 90 days. If you know how fast 90 days goes by, you will probably think there is a lot that needs to get done. So, you develop a focused strategy to leave you with enough time to review your project before turning it in. A person in control will tell procrastination, “I am so glad I kept track of my work so I can duplicate my efforts in the future, saving me time and energy for other important things to do.”
See the difference in changing your perspective?
Being in control of your time brings you many benefits:
- Boosts your self-discipline habits,
- Improves your quality of work,
- Opens you to new possibilities and opportunities,
- Enhances your relationships (personal and professional), and
- You achieve more!
Three Techniques to Help You Take Control of Your Time
Technique One: Use the time matrix, which explains the difference between urgent vs not urgent and important vs not important to help you decide what matters most.
Before you can use your time effectively, it is essential to define what constitutes an effective use of time. You spend each minute of each day doing something, whether it is advancing your field, strengthening your relationships, or getting caught up in the latest game app craze.
Stephen R. Covey provided an excellent framework for categorizing how you spend your time: the Time Matrix.
Technique Two: Use the Focus Funnel, from Rory Vaden’s “Procrastinate On Purpose” TED Talk to help you decide what needs to stay on your plate to do.
Should you procrastinate on purpose? Rory’s Focus Funnel asks us to look at our tasks with three questions: Can it be eliminated? Can it be automated? Can it be delegated? If your answer to these questions is still no, then you should consider doing the task right away, unless it can wait for an opportunity to be eliminated, automated or delegated. This technique has done wonders for executives with long to-do lists.
Technique Three: Try Brian Tracy’s technique and eat your frog first thing in the morning. Basically, do the worst, most irritating or hardest task first so the rest of your day is easier.
How do I spot the frog?
There are always some tasks we would like to tick off our to-do list as soon as possible. It is better to kick of the day accomplishing a difficult task to close out the day with lighter tasks. This strategy helps you use your energy reserves on areas where you need the most concentration and avoid burnout at the end of the day.
The frog is the tasks you do not want to do but actually need to do.
Where your attention goes, your energy flows. Remember, priority management is time management in disguise. Consider using apps to help you stay on track, like Asana or Microsoft Planner. These tools have built-in email and calendar management features to help you streamline all your important tasks.
If you are interested in joining our entrepreneur group to learn more, sign up for our bi-weekly Business Energizers! We discuss strategies, goals, and resources in a virtual mastermind setting. The Business Energizers are held every other Monday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. You can register for free by visiting www.ccbsfoundation.org.
EDGAR RAFAEL OLIVO is a bilingual business educator, economic advisor and contributor for several media outlets. He’s a nonprofit executive who is passionate about education. He is certified in finance and data analytics and holds a business degree from Arizona State University.
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