Time always has and always will be that most precious of commodities and never more so than today with the 24 hour news cycle, social media and the constant thought at the back of your mind that everyone else has a work-life balance, why can’t I have that also? Not all of the below steps will work for everyone but hopefully some of them will help you and your business.
1. Never envisioning or thinking about tomorrow.
This is very common and it is one of the main reasons most people have a problem with time management. Great businessmen and women and those who created extraordinary results in life are typically visionaries. They see things further into the future rather than just seeing things as they are now.
When you think about how you are going to go through tomorrow, you will better equip yourself with what’s coming. You will literally able to see what needs to get done and what you need to accomplish. More importantly, when you envision or think about the coming days, you will feel more motivated because you are envisioning yourself creating the future you want and moving one step closer toward your dreams.
2. Not planning ahead.
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
There seems to be some truth in this saying. The majority of the people plan their working days, but they never really plan their weekends or their off days. Yes, you may say that on your off days you just want to be “off” and doing nothing. However, if you do not plan for your weekend, you will just waste your weekend thinking about what to do.
A lot of people wake up late on the weekend. They spend most of their time thinking about what to do, what to eat and where to go. You don’t have to plan every minute or every hour for your weekend. What I’m suggesting is that you can plan for 3 to 5 activities that you want to do during your weekend. For example, you can plan to go jogging in the morning, shopping in the afternoon and have dinner with friends at night. You will at least fill your weekend time with some meaningful and productive activities.
3. Starting their day late.
If you study the success stories of all the great people out there, almost all of them started their days early. None of them started their days late. The man behind Starbucks, Howard Schultz, gets up at 4:30 a.m. almost every day. Richard Branson wakes up around 5:45 a.m. to do his daily exercise. Apple CEO, Tim Cook started his day at 4:30 a.m. and Procter & Gamble CEO, A.G. Lafley wakes up around 5:00–5:30 a.m and is at his desk by 6:30 a.m. or 7:00 a.m. at the latest.
Can you see it now? Great people share one thing in common: they all wake up early to do their most important task and they exercise before they get to the office. If you start your day late, you will feel rushed throughout the whole day. Just like if you start your day late, you eat your breakfast hastily or even skip your breakfast; you may get stuck in a traffic jam and arrive late; everyone will push you on your work, and your boss may scold you for being late. Can you imagine how stressful the day will be?
4. Focusing on doing the wrong thing.
Never ever forget your goals and your targets. Many people have difficulty in managing their time because they focus on doing the wrong thing. If you want to be productive, you must make sure you are working on things that really matter and things that will move you toward your goals and targets.
For example, when things get out of hand, people will focus on the problem and start blaming each other. The right thing to do is to focus on the outcomes and the solutions available to you. Just like if you are in sales, don’t forget that your main purpose is to sell and not to call or meet clients for the sake of calling them and meeting them.
5. Getting distracted along the way.
One of the most popular time-management problems with most people is that they get distracted along the way. A very simple example is that when you are trying to do your work on your computer, and then suddenly you get a notification from Facebook saying your friend commented on one of your posts, so what did you do? You quickly turn to Facebook and check out what’s going on.
This is a very common thing that happens to most people. We get distracted when some other things seem more “interesting” to us. As long as you focus on your targets and always keep your goals in your mind, it will shield you from distractions.
6. Going through each day without aims, targets and goals.
Do you know what you need to get done by tomorrow, by end of this week and by end of this month? Most people never really have a goal or a target. That is why most of them go through life without passion and motivation. Successful people always have a clear indication of the outcome that they want; that is why they are able to move forward toward the future they desire.
If you don’t have a goal, how can you tell if you have reached it? How can you know whether or not you are on track or are producing the result you want when you don’t know what exactly you want? Today, if you go to work without energy, with no passion, and you go to work for the sake of salary and for the sake of working, you better stop reading right now and take time to think about the future you want. This is when you are absolutely clear with what you want to accomplish in your life that you will be able to come up with the right things to do and manage your time properly.
7. Not having a to-do list.
Some people said that to-do lists are useless, because what good is a to-do list if you aren’t marking off items? Let’s make one thing clear: having a to-do list is always much better than not having one. The reason is that the list helps you understand what you need to get done. When you know what you need to do, you will be well-prepared.
Sometimes we may get so busy and forget what we need to get done, and this is where our to-do list can come to help. First it prepares us for what is coming and next; it reminds us of what we need to do. It is all right if you did not follow through with your to-do list in the first few days; what you want is to make it into a habit, and then you will see how effective it can be. The main key to make your to-do list works for you is to make completing tasks into a habit.
8. No rest and all work.
This is going to be controversial and subjective. Do you think that you are working a lot today or do you think that you are too free and not getting much done? This is a very subjective question and it all depends on how much you can take. If you are a workaholic, you may feel that you don’t have enough time no matter how much you have actually put into work. On the other hand, if you are not a workaholic, you may feel that you have done so much and you just want to get some rest.
The point here is that you need to find the balance between resting and working. And this is totally subjective base on each individual’s ability. Some people can work till late at night and still feel motivated to do more, while some people can’t take it after 6 p.m. When you feel motivated and want to get more done, do so. When you feel tired, get some rest. After all, success is a journey and not a destination. You need to rest in order to get more done.
9. Being too free and not moving forward.
Sometimes you will feel that you are too free or you wasted too much time on unnecessary activities and you are not moving forward at all. This is the time when you need to think about your goals and what need to get done. This is why you need a to-do list too. You don’t really need to worry about committing to doing too many tasks or too few tasks; just like what you have learned above, you want to turn getting things done into a habit so that you will know how much work you can take each day.
Most people will fall into this category of too free and not moving forward instead of the other way around. You should be able to tell if you are moving forward by tracking your results from time to time. If you are not moving forward, it is time for you to think whether you are not doing the right thing, or whether or not you do enough.
10. Being a perfectionist.
Always adopt the mindset of “ready, fire and aim” instead of “ready, aim and fire” approach. Always remember that no one is perfect in this world. We learn the most from our mistakes, not from our successes. Therefore, just go ahead and do it. Just like what Richard Branson has to say:
“If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes—then learn how to do it later!”
You don’t have to understand every detail to start. You can start right away and figure the rest of the details which you don’t know. As long as you are always in motion and moving, you will have an edge over people who are always thinking but are not doing anything. Yes, you need to spend time planning and thinking about your strategies, but more importantly, you need to take action and act right away.