It is common to look back over your day and think that you could have been so much more productive with your time.
Time is your most valuable resource in helping you to obtain your dreams and goals. Without time it is physically impossible to achieve anything. Successful people only achieve remarkable things because of their ability to use time wisely.
Time is your canvas, and it is up to you to make sure that you fill it with worthwhile and rewarding pursuits.
I have no sympathy for people that use the lack of time excuse to explain why they have not achieved their goals. Usually a lack of progress is not because of a lack of time, but because of a misapplication of time on unworthy pursuits.
Michael Neill in his book ‘You can have what you want’ summarised this point by saying ‘The most important choice you make is what you chose to make important.’
Before you start organising your time more effectively first identify exactly how you organise your time.
In order to do this you should keep a time-log of your work day. A time-log is a precise instrument used to record exactly how you spend your time.
Measuring how you spend your time will unearth the unconscious behaviours you wish to change, helping to streamline your efforts more effectively.
Throughout the day whenever you start a new activity write down what it is that you are doing and how long you do it for. You must record every activity, no matter how small they are. For example, sending emails, going to the toilet, eating, unnecessary conversations, are some examples of smaller scale activities that also need recording in your time log.
Attention to detail is important in this exercise.
It is advisable to use a stop watch so that you accurately record the time spent one each activity.
Although this exercise seems like unwanted hassle, the amount of time that will be saved in the long run justifies the activity.
After you have completed your time-log for the day, you can begin to analyse exactly how and on what you spend your time.
The common finding is that too much time is wasted on tasks that are unimportant. For example, checking emails, spending extra time to eat, interruptions that are often in the form of pointless conversations, coffee breaks, organising your work space, and endless filing are some of the common tasks that sap away your time. The clever feature of useless tasks is that they often disguise themselves as being important; checking your emails incessantly is a common culprit.
One of the main reasons that we feel it is ok to engage in such behaviours is because individually they do not consume significant amounts of your time. However what most people fail to recognise is that collectively these distracting tasks, eat large chunks into the working day.
In order to streamline the organisation of your time, every hour during your work day ask yourself the following question:
Is what I am doing right now adding value to myself or my business?
If the answer is yes then you know that you time is being spent on something worthwhile.
The productivity equation
In order to calculate how productively you spend your time, apply the following equation:
Productivity = Time spent that adds value to you or your business/total time spent at work
Steve Pavlina (2006)
If you have uncovered the startling truth that your time is managed very badly, dont be alarmed. A common mistake is to start trying too hard to make up for lost time.
Whenever I have wanted something really badly I always use to bust a gut to try and obtain the object of my desire. Unfortunately to my frustration my actions took me further away from my target.
Usually the effect of trying too hard to achieve a particular result is that it pushes it further away from your grasp.
The most productive place to work from is a state known as ‘relaxed excellence’. This is the mid-point between apathy and trying too hard.
When this mid-point is obtained your workflow becomes effortless and instinctive. One way to help you stay in a place of relaxed excellence is to regularly ask yourself the question; ‘Can I make my work flow anymore relaxing.’
The regular application of this self-directed question will keep you in check, by reminding you to work from a place of ease, and calmness.