Do you often feel as though you just don’t have time for everything? Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the fact is, you don’t. None of us do. Nobody has time to do everything, we only have time to do what’s important. The difficulty lies in figuring out what is important enough to deserve our time, and what’s not.
Everyone will have different criteria to decide what stays on their list and what goes, but there are certainly some ways that will be more effective than others. Here are three strategies to avoid that will ensure your list is cluttered with unimportant tasks:
1. Spend Time on Things You Think Should Be Important, But Aren’t
I’ve never been the neatest person in the world. Keeping a tidy office and a spotless home are not things that come naturally to my husband and me. We’ve tried cleaning schedules, chore lists, and phone reminders, but inevitably, we’ll be in the middle of some brainstorm when it’s time to vacuum under the furniture, and it just doesn’t get done. After much fretting about this, it occurred to me: if this were truly important to us, we’d make the time for it. Just because having an immaculate house is important to some people, doesn’t mean it has to be important to us.
I feel no shame in telling you that if you were to come over to our home today and run your hand along the baseboards, they would be dusty. The glass sliding door has a few nose prints on it from where the dogs peer outside. We’ll probably take care of those nitty-gritty things the next time we throw a party, but in the mean time, I am 100% fine with spending my limited time on other things.
2. Spend Time On Tasks That Don’t Produce Results
Habits are great. They help us complete tasks without thinking about them and free up valuable brain power for other things. However, when you’ve allowed an inefficient task to become a habit, then you have a problem. When people contact me about speaking engagements, my natural reaction is to write them back with a lengthy customized message including all of the information they could ever possibly want. I thought this was working OK, until I came across a wonderful book from the National Speakers Association called Speak More!. One of the chapters suggests responding to inquires with short messages that set up a time to speak on the phone. This both saves time and increases the chance of a response. Guess which method I use now!
Reflect on your habits to make sure they are using your time efficiently and producing the results you want. A great way to do this is to talk to others and be an avid reader. Have an open mind to consider new ways of doing things. Our default action is to do what is comfortable and familiar but that isn’t always the most efficient approach.
3. Give Yourself the Leftover Time
There is no leftover time. Period. If you’re waiting to first finish all of your important tasks before giving yourself a Dessert from your Time Diet, you’ll be waiting forever. There is always one more thing that can be done. Instead, schedule your Desserts frequently into your day, even if they are short and bite-sized. How you spend your time is a reflection on what you feel is important. What does that say about the value you put on yourself if “you” tasks like hobbies, exercise, a walk with your family, or time with your friends never makes it off the bottom of your priority list?
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