Wouldn’t it be nice to have 25 hours in the day?
The fact is that we often say we wish there was more time in the day, but what we’re really saying is that we wished we had less to do. Now here’s the good news: the average person can actually free up nearly 90 minutes of time on an 8-hour work day just by setting realistic and rigid priorities.
This is because our days are often filled with an emphasis on “being busy” instead of an emphasis on “being productive.”
So here’s what I’ve found can be done to make sure there is enough time for the work that really matters, which will help us all become less busy and more productive every day.
#1. Identify all of your low-value tasks.
Nearly 25% of the tasks you perform at work are either going to be relatively easy to stop doing or aren’t really important to the future of your company or your position. Something as simple as dropping a needless meeting can free up 1-3 hours in your weekly schedule instantly. You might also be too involved in the daily details of a project, wasting time by sorting documents, or bogged down in other routine administrative tasks that may not even need to be completed.
#2. Make sure you’re not being a martyr.
If it seems like you’re too busy at work, then there’s a good chance that you’ve chosen to be this way. There are ways that you can lessen your workloads, even if there are tasks that rise above low-value status. You may be able to delegate these tasks to other members of your team if you cannot drop them completely. It may also be possible to restructure how that work is being completed so you can become more efficient at it.
#3. Find a way to let the worries fade away.
One of the biggest struggles we all face in terms of delegation is fear. Because we’re letting other people finish the tasks for us, we’re essentially vouching for that person. My first issues with delegation certainly hovered around this. Yet at the end of the day, when I could get past worrying about the tasks I’d delegated, I learned that developing an entire team is just as important as learning when to delegate.
#4. Use your new free time wisely.
The first time I had freed up my schedule enough where I had an extra 30 minutes, I just sat behind my desk and did nothing. I unplugged my phone, put my feet up, and enjoyed the silence. That was useful for one day, but it wouldn’t make me productive from a long-term perspective. When you’ve got extra time, make a list of the things you should be doing, but are not. Then keep a log of what you do during your free time to make sure you’re remaining productive.
#5. Commit to your plan.
None of this is going to work unless you stay committed to the goal of making time for work that really matters. You can’t go back to being a martyr. You must keep delegating. You must take advantage of the free time you have. You must look to the future instead of worrying about the past. Not every day will be easy – I can vouch for that – but there is the potential to be rewarded with more time every day.
Stop being busy. Start being productive. That way you can enjoy all 24 hours that we have in the day.
What has been your biggest struggle in making time for the work that really matters? I’d love to hear how you were able to overcome these challenges.