Do you wish you had more time in your day? Do you have time to enjoy what really matters to you?
We are adjusting and planning our days so differently now. Our “to-do” lists seem to double while the hours in our day do not.
Not only do we need more time to get some routine stuff done, but we also don’t have enough time for the things that are most important to us – like family, friends, service, and rest. One of the most common reasons relationships get into trouble? We aren’t taking the time to listen and to be understood. We simply don’t have the time.
Though we may want to lay the blame on another person, our job, our boss, our kids, our circumstances, or our responsibilities – how we decide to spend our time is solely our choice to make.
If you’re feeling like you’re losing control of how you spend your time, below are four productivity habits to help you regain that control.
Productivity Habit # 1: Reflect on your reality.
If you feel like you’ve lost control of your life, then you need to take it back. Don’t blame your lifestyle demands, your boss’ demands, or the “new normal” we are all trying to figure out.
Take some time to reflect on how you really spend your time. Set aside one day and write down everything you did. Can you see ways you could have saved time by rearranging your schedule or delegating a task to someone else?
Here are some more questions to ask to help you determine how you are really spending your time:
- What are some of the time-suckers in your life?
- What are you spending too much time on that you can let go of?
- How are you managing your time online? Are you setting time aside for your priorities?
- Do you allow people to expect you to respond immediately to emails?
- Do you agree to do things you don’t want to do?
Take a good look at the choices you’re currently making with your time and reflect on how that can look differently for you.
Productivity Habit # 2: Set boundaries.
Technology can take a lot of the blame here. We’ve let it tear down the boundaries that used to naturally protect our time. We are so constantly bombarded with information and demands that we don’t even have time to pause and think.
Reconstruct your boundaries so you aren’t constantly overwhelmed. Turn off the computer, your phone, and your mobile device. Set aside a specific time to check email instead of constantly checking it throughout the day. Take a minute to simply be still. Sound scary? Then it’s essential you begin setting boundaries immediately.
Productivity Habit # 3: Prioritize your weekly and daily top 3.
At the beginning of the week, take a minute to write down your top three priorities for the following week. I do this each Sunday night. Place it somewhere you will readily see it. Then, each day, either the night before or first thing in the morning, write down your top three. These are the top three things you need to do in order to work toward achieving your weekly goals.
Productivity Habit #4: Use the power of time blocking.
Once you have a handle on the top three daily priorities you want to accomplish, schedule a specific time to work on each of them. I do this by time blocking each hour of the day. It really works well for me and once you get in the habit it can be a very powerful productivity tool.
Here’s how time blocking works. Use a calendar that has a week at a glance by hour feature. At the beginning of each day or the night before, block out what you want to work on or do by each hour of the day.
Taking a minute to get a clear picture of what a productive day looks like will help keep you on track. Don’t forget to include blocking out time for your morning routine (eg. coffee and news), daily wind down (what time do the electronics and TV go off), and for other daily habits you want to build, such as taking a daily walk, reading on your lunch break, or having a conversation with a loved one. When you write it down, you are more likely to do it!
Here’s something to think about – if you don’t take your time, it will be taken from you. Beginning today, take the time to find ways to plan your day so you can relax and enjoy more of what really matters to you.
Betty Lochner is a human resources consultant, business coach, and expert in workplace communications. She is the author of two books on communication, and a newly published journal, Intentional Gratitude.