Erik Kruger lists 5 things to help you accomplish more in a smaller amount of time.
Time is a funny thing.
It is our most precious resource. Yet most of us rarely ever stand still to consider how we are spending our time. We only become concerned with it when we start running out of it.
In every second of your day, you are literally trading your life for your job, your hobbies, your time-wasters. The opportunity cost is massive.
If you want to be truly successful in life, you need to be in control of how your time is spent. Yes, life happens, and things won’t always go your way, but you should have strategies in place for when such times arrive.
I have asked a few guys who manage to do a lot with their time to share some of their strategies.
Before we hear from them, let’s look at 5 great ways to optimize your time:
1. Stop Multitasking
We have known for some time now that multitasking doesn’t really exist. When you are doing various tasks at the same time, your brain is not running the two tasks simultaneously. Instead, it is rapidly switching between the tasks.
This increases the amount of time it will take you to complete a single task, and it also increases the amount of errors you are likely to make. The rapid switching between tasks also means that you are never fully immersed in what you are doing. You are never truly present in doing good work.
Fix this by simply limiting yourself to doing what is in front of you. Get rid of distractions. When I write, I make sure that all my resources are already gathered and that there are no external distractions. It might also help to use a Comodoro timer. The Comodoro technique requires you to work in bursts. So, you work uninterrupted for 25 minutes, with laser focus, and then take a break.
Works like a charm.
Abraham Lincoln once said that if he had 8 hours to cut down a tree then he would spend the first 6 hours sharpening his axe.
The importance of planning cannot be over emphasized. It is your battle plan.
Every Sunday, take some time to plan the week. Then at the end of every day, take some time to plan your next day.
Why at the end of the day? Because of decision fatigue. The more decisions you make in a day, the more likely you are to make bad decisions. If you can do your planning at the end of the day, then you can wake up fresh the next morning and already know what your goals are for the day.
Very simply… What are the most important things that you need to do today in order to make a difference?
Your to-do list is most likely very long. But not all tasks are created equal. Not all tasks require immediate attention.
Do the most important things first.
4. Busy vs effective. Know the difference.
We all know that person that is constantly busy. They’re always doing stuff but never achieving anything.
You do not NEED to work 8 hours a day if you can effectively do your work in 2 hours. Do not let your tasks become spread out because you want to fill your time. This ties back very nicely to knowing what you need to do to be effective instead of just busy.
5. Optimize your workflow
This is important in every business, and thanks to advances in technology has become much easier. And it is an obsession and specialty of mine.
You want to assess all the systems in your life and business space. Then decide:
- Which tasks are repetitive?
- Which tasks require syncing across platforms and services?
- Which tasks should YOU be doing, and which ones can be outsourced to someone else?
Services like IFFT and Zapier can help you automate various digital tasks. As an example, Zapier helps me move my email subscribers between lists in Mailchimp.
If you find yourself consumed with tasks that could be done by someone else, then it might be time for you to let go of some of it. That, in itself, can be very difficult. We like to think that no one can do a specific task better than us. “If you want something done, do it yourself”, right?
The trade off is amazing. You gain time, and someone else takes care of smaller tasks in your day. Interested? Check out a service such as Elance, which helps connect you to freelancers.
How to be effective with your time:
Dave Duarte – CEO at Treeshake
Okay here’s some thoughts on how I juggle responsibilities.I need to be very organised to be productive. I reflect on my life priorities in a journal every Sunday, and this gives me a weekly perspective about what I should be working on. As a mentor once told me “It doesn’t matter how busy you are if you’re working on the wrong stuff”.I work with two main productivity tools, both old-school: a calendar, and a to-do list.I don’t do anything in my day unless it is on my to-do list. And I try knock off my to-do’s in order of priority.Another trick is that I only open my email at scheduled times during the day. And I don’t let email dictate my next action, but rather I deal with email for a solid hour and I add things to my to-do list as I go, as necessary.The benefit of being organised that I spend less time deciding what to do next, and more time just DOING what I need to do. Organisation counters decision-fatigue. When your decisions have been made in advance, you expend less mental energy in the process of deciding, so you can get closer to the act of doing, and more of your energy can be dedicated to the creative process and to concentration.
Maps Maponyane – Actor. Model. Entrepreneur.
To me time management is vital to any progression that I have in my career. Without efficient time management then I can’t be as productive as I need to be and if I’m not productive then everything falls apart.
To make use of as much of my time as possible I try be as strict as I can with my time in meetings so that I can get to the point and be efficient. One of my tricks to achieve that, whether it’s a meeting or event is by making the people involved realise that my time is limited and then when I’m with them we need to make it, is putting an hour timer on my phone as soon as I get started and when it goes off I need. It’s forced me to be optimal and succinct and to the point, and hopefully get others to respect mine as much.
Marnus Broodryk – CEO at The Beancounter
What has helped me the most in the last year in terms of time management, is without a doubt to create a list with top priorities for that day.It might be 2 it might be 20, but I schedule the items into my day and make sure that I don’t go to bed without completing them. You can either control your day or your day will control you. I decide what is important for me in the morning and that will rule my day.It’s amazing and whenever I skip a day, I realise the value of this simple habit all over again.
Mike Sharman – CEO at Retroviral
Delegation is an art.Building a strong team within your organisation is imperative for business growth and success. The more solid a foundation that you can build around you, the more you can extract yourself from the tactical execution, in order to focus on the strategic direction and implementation of elements that add value. This allows one to use their time betterAlways go full-mobile. What started out as an unconscious experiment has become a permanent bow in my arsenal. I spend less time during my day on my Macbook but prefer to answer mails and reduce the days clutter of tasks, via mobile. Forcing yourself to be a truly ‘mobile citizen’ aids your time spent on your decision making process, forces you to be more succinct in your communication approach and to deliver the key messages to staff, clients and suppliers.Meetings can eat into your time in the transportation to and from engagements. Host meetings where possible and Uber / have colleagues drive to those you must attend. Car time = e-mail time. If you must drive, use the time to make your days’ allotment of calls.