Wouldn’t it be great to have more hours in the day?
Having more time would open up so many more options for you and your day. In an ideal world, you would have plenty of time for…
- Working on your personal goals
- Meeting all your work deadlines
- Preparing healthy meals for yourself
- Hanging out with friends and loved ones
- Doing something nice for yourself
- Relaxing and recuperating
Unfortunately, real life often gets in the way of our ideal days. Work emergencies pop up. Plans get derailed. And before you know it, the day gets away from us.
But here’s the good news: making small adjustments to your current routine can give you back your day. By taking an honest assessment of how you’re spending your time, and identifying the tasks that are draining your hours, you can let go of habits that no longer serve you and level up.
Here are some time management strategies and productivity techniques to help you maximize the hours and take ownership of your day.
Do a time audit
Want more time in your day? First, you have to know where your time is going.
To help you do this exercise, you might need to check your phone’s screen time or use a timer to measure how long you are taking to do routine tasks. You might be cringing while doing this exercise but just remember that self-awareness is key to enacting real positive change.
Conduct your time audit over the course of the week to give yourself a comprehensive idea of how your time is being spent. Afterwards, ask yourself the following questions:
- What are the activities and tasks that are consuming your time?
- What are the things that are surprisingly eating up your time?
- What would you like to spend less time on?
- What would you like to spend more time on?
Now that you have a better idea of where your time is going, you can make smarter and more informed decisions about how you want to spend your time going forward.
Set daily priorities
Part of why we waste so many precious hours in the day is that we’re not really sure how we want to spend our time. We might have a vague idea of wanting to be more productive but what does that mean exactly?
So instead, give shape and structure to your day by identifying the biggest priorities to focus on.
To help you set your priorities, you might want to ask yourself: What tasks would make me feel really happy and productive if I accomplished them today?
Write these priorities down on a notepad or put them up on a post-it. When you write it down, you’re more likely to do it.
Have “no” scripts on hand
For a lot of people the thought of saying no takes a huge mental and emotional toll. There is the stress and anxiety of letting someone down or worrying about how people will perceive you. And all of this mental work takes time away from the actual work you want to be focusing on.
But imagine a world in which you could say no with ease. You’d win back the time in your day. Which means you’d have more time to say yes to the things you want to do.
To help you prepare, have some default “no” scripts on hand that you can pull out whenever you need to decline a request or invitation.
Saying no to a social invitation
Unfortunately, I have commitments that evening but thank you so much for including me!
Saying no to a work request
I’m currently working on X so I won’t be able to get to Y in the time frame requested.
For more advice on how to set boundaries, read this.
Set up an FAQ
They say that email is responding to other people’s priorities. So if you find yourself spending a lot of time meeting someone else’s demands, then manage your requests by automating routine emails. And a good way to do that is to set up an FAQ.
So if you’re an entrepreneur who gets a lot of pick your brain requests and can’t manage them all, create an FAQs section on your website. Or if you’re an assistant and your team is always asking you how to do x or y, circulate an FAQs document for team members to have on hand. Or if you’re a small business owner or creative professional getting a lot of similar questions from clients, then post an FAQs to your email or website.
A big part of leveling up is recognizing that your time is worthy. Automating routine messages will free up your time and redirect attention to your own priorities.
Maximize your day by planning out your year
Even Bill Gates gets the same 24 hours in a day as the rest of us. So what’s the secret to his time management success? He plans out his year.
In this CNBC article, Chris Caposella, the former speechwriter to Bill Gates, clues us in on how the Microsoft founder stays productive and maintains work life balance by planning out his year in advance.
Planning your year in advance lets you know what deadlines, priorities, events, holidays are all coming up. This allows you to prepare and act accordingly instead of playing catch up or being caught by surprise.
So take out your planner and start recording your big goals, occasions, and work events. Now that you have the macro plan down, you can start managing your time for the month, week, and day.
Delegate and let others level up
We all know that we should be delegating certain tasks, but how often do we actually do it?
If you’re afraid of relinquishing control, or worried that your colleagues won’t meet your standards, remember that being a good manager or coworker also means letting your team members level up.
And if you’re afraid that delegating a task will make you come across as bossy or pushy, then give it to a team member who would relish the chance to shine. Maybe it’s the intern who’d love to do more substantive work. Or the marketing colleague who would love to try their hand at public speaking.
Use delegating as a chance to empower team members and you’ll feel much more comfortable doing it. And you’ll get the hours back in your day.