Each of these techniques can help you in getting closer to your goal of becoming more productive with your time:
1. Assume ownership of your time
Most individuals would be surprised if somebody reached in their wallet without asking and helped themselves to the money found there. But how different is that from letting other people help themselves to your time?
Take possession of your own time and do not allow other people to make commitments of your time without your permission. It is not selfish to keep other people from consuming your time.
Give your time freely when you want but do not make the mistake of undervaluing this resource, or feeling guilty when you do not allow other people to waste it.
Think of a time when somebody wasted your time.
How could you have dealt with the situation better?
Continually check yourself to see that you’re working on the most significant things.
Helping your child talk through a problem, he/she is having or discussing the day’s events with a spouse or friend may be more significant than getting the dishes done or a load of laundry completed. Do not think of priorities only as tasks that need doing. As you remind yourself to direct yourself to the most important tasks first, you will find yourself letting go of jobs that did not need to be done in the first place.
3. Learn to say, “No.”
It is not that saying the word is so difficult. It’s more the feeling of guilt that many people experience as soon as they use the term.
Try centering on the essential things that will be accomplished because you used that two-letter word to decline something which was not a part of your priorities.
Considering your past week, what are some things where you should have said “No”?
4. Protect your blocks
Think of your day as numerous large blocks of time with the blocks divided by natural interruptions.
Where you have control, keep your blocks whole, scheduling appointments and meetings, running errands at the beginning or end of a block instead of in the middle.
Having an appointment in the middle of a block leaves little time at either end to tackle a major piece of work. Keeping your blocks of time as big as possible gives you a feeling of having more time that is available.
There is that “D” word. Delegating means assigning the responsibility for a task to somebody else. That signifies you no longer have to do the job, nor do you have to remind somebody else to do it.
Being able to delegate some tasks is a way of freeing up some of your time for the jobs that only you can do. As somebody else learns to do a job, do not be tempted to take over if they are not doing it quite right. You have to learn that “done” maybe “good enough.”
6. Think in terms of buying time
There’s an intimate relationship between time and money, where one can often be substituted for the other. The more hectic your schedule, the more reasonable it is to buy time by selecting goods and services that save you from investing time.
Paying somebody to mow your yard, or transport your kids to baseball practice, are examples of purchasing time.
What are some of the additional ways you are able to or do buy some time?
7. Learn to work with your biological clock
People have a peak time of day when their energy is at its highest and concentration at its best. Determine which time of day is your peak performance time and plan your work accordingly.
Keep meetings and routine tasks for other parts of the day when you have the choice.
What part of the day is best for you to do a task that takes real concentration?
8. Break down big jobs into manageable pieces
One of the sources of procrastination is that some tasks can seem too overwhelming even to begin. Learn to break down a large task into manageable sections, and then start with a piece you know you can handle.
The most challenging step in major undertakings is often the first one. You will have a greater sense of satisfaction as you complete each portion of the task, and this can keep you motivated to the end.
Think of a significant project you have ahead of you.
How could you break it down into manageable pieces?
9. Work on overcoming procrastination
Once you recognize that you are procrastinating, the next step is to begin overcoming this time-wasting habit. Besides, procrastination is a habit, a systematic way of dealing with tasks you find distasteful or that make you fearful of failure.
When you see that you are procrastinating, make an appointment with yourself to take the first step toward completing the task.
Determine what that first step will be and then set a specific time, in the near future, to begin the work.
10. Reward yourself
Celebrate when a primary task is completed, or a significant challenge is met.
One of the problems with a hectic life is that you can be so busy that you fail to notice the completion of a significant piece of work. You just move on to the next job without celebrating your previous success.
This failure leads to focusing on what is still left undone instead of enjoying what has already been accomplished.
Set up a reward system for yourself that serves as both a motivator to get specific difficult tasks done and an acknowledgment that you are making effective use of your time.