We all have the same number of hours in a week, so how is it that some people manage to be so productive, like Gary V, while others can barely manage to check a few items off the to do list. Are we so obsessed with trying to save time and complaining that there is never enough time, that we aren’t focusing on how we are spending our time? Think about that for a second. When you are doing something you don’t like, let’s say running on a treadmill or preparing a report for work that you know no one even reads, how fast does time go by? It crawls. 5 minutes feels like 5 hours. BUT when you are doing something you love, accomplishing things that mean something to you, 5 hours starts to feel like 5 minutes! So, if you like hiking, why are you on the treadmill day after day. If you don’t like your job and its requirements, why are you spending 40 hours a week being miserable?
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Laura Vanderkam, who studies Time Management, thinks that time isn’t the issue. “We don’t build the lives we want by saving time,” Vanderkam said in her TedWomen talk in 2016. “We build the lives we want, and then time saves itself.”
Some of the most famous business people today never complain that there aren’t enough hours in a day or week, and they probably accomplish more in a week than most of use accomplish in a month. So, what’s their secret? Is it simply because they love what they do, or do they have some magical ninja fairies in their pockets helping them get shit done? Here are a few strategies Vanderkam uses to manage her own time.
Track your time
I once had a boss who had my entire department track our time for over a month. This required filling out a spreadsheet with what we did every minute of every day. How many orders I processed, and how much time I thought those took, phone calls, responding to emails, etc., etc. It got to the point where I was adding in funny stuff to see if he noticed. He didn’t. HOWEVER, you should track your time for one week. It doesn’t have to track every minute but write down things in 30 min. increments. It might feel tedious to start and one more thing you have to do, but you might be surprised at what you discover and where you are actually spending your time. You might find that you spend several hours a week reading articles on Facebook or LinkedIn, yet you’ve been complaining that you haven’t had any time to read some new books.
Your brain cannot function for hours on end on the same task without taking a break. A break some rejuvenate and refresh you. You might find that you THINK you are taking breaks, but scrolling through social media, personal emails, or texting are NOT breaks for your brain – or your body. These breaks aren’t really breaks at all. Doing all those things are fine, and you should plan those in to your day, but you also need to get up, move around, and reboot your brain. Step away from the electronics!
Less is more
When it comes to making a to do list, less is more. Having a short, manageable list is MUCH easier to navigate than pages and pages that cover your whole list of monthly items. A long list = failure. You want to feel accomplished at the end of the day and check off several if not all the items on the list will keep you motivated. This list should be for both work and home – they are equally important.
Your time is your own. How you choose to spend it is up to you. Your boss, spouse, or even kids don’t make that choice for you – you do. You can’t make more time. You can’t put it in an account for a rainy day. Those 24 hours a day, 168 hours a week will get spent regardless. Make every minute count and be on your terms.