We all have the same number of hours in each day. It’s how we use them that makes the difference to how we live.
Time is a level playing field. When the clock strikes midnight, it’s the start of a new 24-hour period for us all. So why do some people make the most of their time while others seem to waste it?
The difference lies in having a clear vision for your future and a sense of urgency and excitement for what’s to come.
Having a clear vision creates energy that needs to be well managed – this means planning and prioritising your daily tasks and events. Without a plan, your productivity will be limited. Even a day off needs to be planned so that you don’t get caught up doing bits and pieces when you should be relaxing or resting instead.
Prioritising your diary or calendar is easy if you follow this golden rule: ‘Do what you have to do so you can then do what you want to do.’ Put another way: ‘Pay now so you can play later.’
Proper planning means that you not only put appointments or activities into your diary, but also take care of the spaces in between. The important things in life are rarely the most ‘urgent’ and are easily overlooked. Most people don’t prioritise such things as building relationships, fitness and personal development activities, and yet, over time, these are the things that make your life meaningful and productive. Prioritise what’s important and not just what’s urgent.
It is vital to make time for things that will grow your life, both personally and professionally. These activities aren’t always ‘fun’. Often it’s the thing you don’t want to do that will make the biggest difference – for example, studying to gain skills or qualifications; or, if you are working, cold-calling a potential client or solving a customer complaint.
The simple act of writing down your tasks and activities, and scheduling a time for each, gives you tremendous power. Instead of having to make a decision on how you will spend your day, now your diary or calendar is telling you what to do and when to do it.
DO WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO SO YOU CAN THEN DO WHAT YOU WANT TO DO
You have to know your capacity. Know what you can manage so that you don’t over-commit. Before you say yes to something, think about whether it is (a) your responsibility, or a responsibility you want to take on, (b) a wise use of your time, or (c) something that will come back and bite you on the backside when you have to let someone down because you couldn’t realistically fit it into your already manic schedule.
Multi-tasking can sometimes seem like a good idea and feel ‘productive’, but is actually a time robber. We tend to think that if we do several things at once, we’ll get more done. But current research is clearly showing that for tasks that require significant brain engagement, it’s better to focus on one thing. Every time you switch activities, your brain has to recalibrate to focus on the new task at hand.
Yvonne Godfrey, is the founder of MIOMO (making it on my own), youth independence programme. She is also the author of ‘Parenting Yadults’ – How to Set Up Your Young Adult for Independence and Success in Life! and ‘Making it on my Own’ – 52 Smart Ways to Smash it in the Real World. Yvonne and her husband Simon have 2 adult daughters, and 2 grandchildren. For more information MIOMO.com