Ohhh, when I think about it, I can almost guarantee you that the time I’ve wasted in my life probably adds up to more than what I’ve spent being productive. I’m sure I could write a book on a million ways to waste time (hmmm… might have to invest more into that thought… hahah just kidding).
In all seriousness though, time is one of our most precious resources, right? So why do we spend so much time letting it slip through our fingers? We all have 24 hours a day, and I know that a big chunk of it is sleeping, working, meal prepping, getting kids ready, etc. So what’s left for doing other things is pretty much at a premium. And that’s where I’d get into trouble… having limited time to do a seemingly never-ending to-do list.
And that’s when I got smart. Here’s my surefire tips so that you can get more done:
Start with a plan…
One secret I learned to stop wasting time is to keep track of exactly what I need to do so that I can actually do it. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? And yet, so few of us actually do this.
As for me, it meant “planning”. The physical act of putting pen to paper with a planner and outlining exactly what I needed to do and when to do it. I work full time in addition to my blog and side hustles (Etsy shops), so really, I have a few hours each evening and a little more time on the weekends to get all my “biz” stuff done. My problem was that I often had so many things to do with my biz that I never knew where to start or how to even start the first task – and that was even if I determined what the first task should be. I was so overwhelmed with everything that I wasted time just trying to think of everything I had to do and then ultimately nothing was actually “getting done”.
I shopped around but couldn’t find a planner that worked for me. So I created my own planner. If you go to any place that sells planners you’ll soon find out there are about a million different types because everyone likes something different. I created mine with my own things in mind and I love it. Feel free to check it out my planner if you’d like the same – which comes in several paper sizes.
Related post: 3 Productivity Tips to Get More Done
Keep a detailed “to do” list…
There is something about making a list and having the satisfaction of checking things off as they are accomplished. To do lists are such an excellent way to keep on top of tasks and ensure that you are staying on track. Guess what? Some of the most successful people in the world make to do lists. It’s true! And why? Well, because it works.
I used to be the type to keep track of things to do in my head. And while that was a great brain exercise, I found that sometimes I’d get overwhelmed and then start worrying about all the things I had to do and suddenly the worry was taking the place of remembering what I had to do. Once that started happening, the tasks started falling out of my mind. Picture your mind like a piece of string with several beads. Each bead is a task or a thought you have. If the string is full of beads, and then you start adding beads of worry, the ones on the far end of the string will start to fall off. You can only retain so much. The lesson here – make/keep a to do list of tasks.
Perfection ins’t possible…
There are times when I’m a perfectionist. I say “there are times” because it depends on the task. If I’m making the bed in the morning, it doesn’t need to be perfect – I don’t need to take a ruler to ensure the overhang is the same on both sides, or that the pillows are wrinkle free. If it looks half decent, that’s good enough. But at other times when I’m doing something, like creating a new post, a new photo shoot, a new planner or whatever – I feel the need for it to be perfect. The problem with this is that it’s hard to ever complete a project or task because it never feels “perfect” and therefore is never done if it isn’t perfect.
I’ve had to let go of this mindset. And lemme tell ya, it hasn’t been easy. I’ve had to let go of the thinking and instead, focus on the fact the task is done and that improvements can be made down the road if necessary.
Starting my blog is a good example of this. I didn’t want to “launch” it until it was perfect. Well, perfect never came and so I realized I had to move forward and press the ole “publish” button. I resigned to the fact that in order to get this ball rolling, I had to actually start. After all, if i wanted to change things up, or tweak things, or fix things, I could always do that at any time. Waiting for the perfect time, perfect look, etc, would never arrive.
If you are caught in this loop of expecting perfection in whatever you are doing, take my advice, and just “start”.
No person is an island…
Simply put, everyone can use some help at some point or another and no one can do everything all of the time. Burn out is real. Once you realize that you don’t have to everything yourself, you can learn to delegate.
One of my good friends was feeling overwhelmed in her household duties on days when her husband worked nights and wasn’t home to help. Those evenings were spent making supper, tidying up, getting the smaller kids bathed and put to bed, etc. When I asked her why she wasn’t enlisting the help of her older kids, she couldn’t come up with an answer. She said she was just so accustomed to doing things on her own that she never thought about getting help from the kids. There was no reason why the 14 year old couldn’t do the after supper cleanup, the 10 year old couldn’t help with the dishes, etc. Suddenly the work load was less.
I’ve done this with my full time job as well. There’s no shame in asking for help. It’s important for us to realize we can seek help when we need it. Let’s face it, sometimes it’s impossible to do everything ourselves.
When it comes to delegating in your entrepreneurial life, look at tasks that take up a lot of your time that you can delegate to someone else, maybe even someone who can do the task better than you can. Consider hiring a Virtual Assistant who can help with the various things eating away at your day so that it can free up time you can spend doing other things. Not sure what a VA can do? Grab my list of jobs a VA can do here.
Learn to say “no”…
If you are a people pleaser, it’s incredibly hard to say “no” when asked to do something. Believe me, I know. But I had a real change of heart when I noticed two things happening, the first that the people who were constantly asking of my time/skill/etc never seemed to reciprocate the favor resulting in times where I was being taken advantage of, and secondly, I was the one who was getting burned out over it. And that was a problem. I was always one to want to give instant answers without giving much thought to the request just be the person people could count on.
That has changed now though. Maybe it comes with age, I’m not sure, but now when someone asks me and I can tell it will take a large amount of time, I tell them flat out that I either “can’t do it”, or I tell them I will think about it before letting them know. And this way I can way out the task and see what is really involved. Will it take me a lot of time to do the task? Will it take me away from family time? Will I be required to do followup? All of these things can be dealbreakers. After all, I’m busy too.
Now this being said, I don’t say “no” all of the time. I really do enjoy helping others. But I certainly have increased the number of times that I do decline requests or favors from people.
Automate things when you can…
Many of the things we do each and every day can be automated to make things easier. Simple things like creating a schedule helps to keep us track and we begin to know that those are the things that get done at that time and once we do it repeatedly it just becomes second nature.
Work less to get more done…
Sounds like a paradox, doesn’t it? What I mean is that when we work long hours, our productivity actually decreases. We become tired and weary and just aren’t as capable of doing things as we are when we are fresh.
Consider cutting out the overtime hours and the working late into the evenings and instead take the time to get rest. We are no good to anyone when we are tired or frustrated. Fatigue gives us a more negative perspective, and usually results in a decrease in willingness to get things done. Bottom line, we work best when we’ve had time to rest our mind and body and also when we take breaks.
My husband is someone who can function on very little sleep. But a few nights in a row he went to bed at a decent hour and got about 8 full hours of sleep. He said the difference in his alertness, his outlook, and his work performance were noticeably better. Did it make him go to bed every night? No, but he’s improving.
It helps to set aside time for the various tasks we have and try to accomplish them in that certain window of time.
Related posts: How to Simplify Your Life
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that no one becomes instantly more productive overnight. It’s a process that requires effort and some time to get into the swing of it all, but it will happen.