Chances are you feel overwhelmed with the amount of stuff you need to do each day.
There may be times when you feel like you’ll never be able to progress further than you are right now because there is too much on your plate. Too many tasks, obligations, and distractions.
We live in a digitally connected time where everyone wants everything right now. Many business owners are struggling to find time to plan and prioritize their work and carve out time for themselves and their family.
That’s how I’ve been feeling and because of that, over the course of the last year, I’ve been searching for ways to change the way I approach my time.
I’ve put together some planning and productivity hacks to help you so that you’re not spinning your wheels anymore, you’re actually moving forward.
It all starts with knowing what you want. If you don’t know what you want, it will be really hard for you to plan and prioritize your life and business in order to reach those goals. That’s why #1 is…
What do you want?
Wait! Before you skip step one and look to step two, you really do need to know what you want. If you’re not clear on what you want, the rest of this list really doesn’t matter.
If you don’t know exactly what you want, press pause right now. Exit Facebook, shut down your email, and find a quiet place to think about what that really is.
- Do you want to sell more? If so what is your sales goal?
- Do you want to work less? How much do you want to work?
- Do you want to travel more? Where do you want to go?
- Do you want a secluded country home or a beach house?
- Do you want to be debt free?
What do you want?
Don’t worry about how you’re going to get it done. “How” is nothing more than a dream thief. It steals the show if you let it run your dream conversation.Until you know WHAT, don’t spend time worrying about the HOW Click To Tweet
I wanted to create a business where I could generate $250,000 a year in sales. I wanted to work from anywhere, live by the ocean full time and spend our winters where it was warm and sunny.
When I dreamt of that, I was running a retail store and not paying myself a dime. I didn’t know any of the how but I was crystal clear on what I wanted. Once you know what you want, you can start to prioritize what you do to shift towards that goal
Break down your goals.
Now that you know what you want, ask yourself what needs to happen in order for you to have the life you want. Essentially, you need to determine the gap between where you are right now and where you want to go.
It could be anything – increasing sales, debt repayment, hiring help, building a website, establishing a solid mailing list etc. Break down your wants into a phased approach.
Pretend you want all of this to happen within five years. What has to happen in year 1, 2, 3, 4, and then 5 to get you there?
After you’ve determined that – look at the first year and break down your priorities into quarters. Once you have quarterly priorities (you can’t do it all in Q1 by the way) you can create a 90-day plan to reach your first set of goals.
Evaluate your time.
Once you have your first set of quarterly priorities, the time gremlins appear. You start to feel as though you can’t do it. It feels overwhelming. There are not enough hours in a day… right? That is the STORY you’re going to tell yourself. This is wrong.
This is your first productivity assignment:
Figure out where you spend your time. Yes, I said “Spend.” You can make more money, but you can never buy more time.
I have some suspicions about time wasting. I can guess some of the places you may be spending time without realizing it. (I’m not talking about watching the hot new TV shows on Netflix).
I would like you to do a time audit.
- Install Moment or Quality Time on your mobile device
- Install RescueTime on your computer
Carry on for a whole week like you usually would. After the week is up, go back and assess if you like how you are spending your time. Ask yourself: “If I give up half the time spent on games, social media or on my mobile device, what could I do?” Ask yourself what could be accomplished if you eliminated 50% of the time you spend on your computer. What if instead of checking email every seven minutes, you only check it four times a day?
You’re bleeding time. Identify what you want to take back control of right now. Ask yourself how do I want to spend this life I am living?
Do you want short-term gratification that you get from social media and television – or do you want what you said you wanted in step number one?
Plan your time.
Now that you know where you’re spending your time, you can choose how you want to spend it moving forward. Your calendar will be one of your greatest assets. In order to plan that, you need to block time for specific tasks so you can do what you need to do in order to have what you want in life. This is what you can do:
- Plan your priorities for the week.
- Assign your tasks for a specific time each day in your calendar. Make an appointment to get these things done.
- Mark off your daily accomplishments and then plan for the next day.
I choose to do this with a notebook. Every day, start with a list of priorities. Whatever priorities don’t get completed move them to the next day before leaving the office. (Or wherever you work). The next morning, start by reviewing that list and looks at your calendar, blocking in time to complete what needs to be done.
Prioritize your priorities.
Brian Tracy says, “Eat that Frog.” Gary Keller says, “What is the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”
Look at your list of priorities and tackle the hardest one first. Most people avoid the task that seems to be the hardest, and instead search for distractions to avoid doing what needs to be done. Instead, give yourself a set amount of time and start working on the most important thing. When you actually start the task and make progress, your brain and your emotional center feel a sense of accomplishment, which fuels continuation.
Tip – this works great for exercise too. I trick myself into only working out for five minutes and then I end up continuing for much longer.
Give yourself some quick wins.
Some priorities are huge while others are small but important. Remember to give yourself some quick and easy wins each day too. As human beings, we are guided by a sense of accomplishment and by the progress we make in life.
One of the things I love so much about Profit Pods is that every member sets priorities on each call, and feels a sense of personal responsibility to move forward. Create a container for your success that holds you accountable for progress.#Progress, not perfection! Click To Tweet
This life you’re living is about moving towards what you want, not about being perfect every step of the way.
You can do anything, but you cannot do everything and do it all perfectly.
This is important! Chances are you have a ton of things that distract you every hour of every day. Here is how to reduce the noise and take back control of your time:
- Turn the sound off your mobile device
- Shut off all notifications on your phone and computer – stop those emails and facebook alerts from sliding across your screen when you are supposed to be focusing. Turn the “dinging” off!
- Close programs you are not using. If you’re writing, open up word, close the web and your email.
- Learn how to use “do not disturb” on your phone. I know… you’re probably saying – what if there is an emergency? Have selective do not disturb set up for those emergencies that rarely happen but we allow influencing big life decisions.
- Check your email and social media at set times each day.
- Schedule your social content if you are using the excuse that you need to check social media more.
- Use a project management tool like Redbooth, Asana or Trello
You CAN have what you want in life if you know what it is, you’re mindful of how you spend your time, and you eliminate the distractions that are taking you away from your priorities.
I would love to hear from you, which of these steps was the most valuable to you? What productivity hacks work for you? Please share in the comments.
Founder and CEO of the Lisa Larter Group, master strategist, author, speaker, podcast host, social media expert, consultant, and business coach. Lisa inspires entrepreneurs and business owners to see the possibilities for their organizations when it comes to strategy. She uncomplicates modern marketing and creates (and implements) strategies for businesses that are guaranteed to increase visibility, inbound leads, and revenue.