I have been teaching time management courses for over five years – it all started with my own frustration. I was overwhelmed, rushing, and plain sloppy at keeping commitments.
The late Stephen Covey once said “If you want to really know something, teach it.” [Tweet this quote]
And so I did.
My book Give Me a Break pieced together a framework for getting my thinking, goals, systems, and habits aligned with productivity. And it worked. Writing the book was transformative for me and it has since helped some 8,000 people. And my course “ReClaiming the Clock”, which is based on the models from Give Me a Break has reached about 20,000 people.
But, here’s the deal.
Of all the strategies I recommend in my book and courses, there are four that can make a difference for EVERYONE. I mean the wood cutter living in a cabin, the single mom trying to get by, the CEO with hundreds of staff, or the entrepreneur working from a spare bedroom. Everyone…including you.
I call these “Time Bombs” because they will explode (I couldn’t resist) your results. Use any one of these strategies and you will see immediate results, use all four and you will be unstoppable.
Here they are – the four “time bombs” that really work (this is a little longer post, but I promise it’s really worth it if you struggle with distractions and getting the right work done):
1. BOUNDARIES. This is the strategy I’m using right now as I write this. And this is where to start – create reoccurring time slots when you are “strategically unavailable.” This is how I get all my heavy lifting done, like: writing blogs, mind mapping podcasts, client proposals, client interviews, and planning my week. I use Google Calendars (which is a brilliant tool that works flawlessly), so it’s easy for me to create a separate calendar called “Boundaries” (with Google Calendar you can choose to see just one calendar or overlay calendars on top of each other).
My favourite time boundaries are from 5:00-7:00 exclusively for writing (no email, surfing the web, or a ‘how-to’ YouTube videos). I also protect 9:00-10:30 every morning (when I usually arrive at my office) to do most of my client work.
Time Boundaries are super easy to set up. The trick is to have a short list going into them. For example, before going to bed I always scribble down a quick list of what I will work on first thing in the morning.
2. BLOCKS. You are prepared, ready, and on time for a client appointment, right? Now make one for yourself. During my Friday 15 ritual planning time I block my calendar for special projects, like sending keynote materials to clients, interviews for my podcast, and coaching calls. I can negotiate (by moving them) these blocks, but I try not to delete them.
It’s kind of funny what happens next. I see the “appointment” in the calendar, start envisioning what I will accomplish, and, before you know it, the dopamine is flowing and I’m ready to do some serious lifting.
3. BATCHING. This one strategy could save you one hour a day (seriously). Think of tasks you do repeatedly throughout the day, like: checking email, checking Facebook or Twitter, reading company updates or blogs, or maybe updating your plan or calendar. It’s much more efficient to simply batch similar tasks together. Just like it would be crazy to go to the grocery store every time you want one thing, it’s crazy to check your email every five minutes.
Here’s a simple way to start batching. Try checking your email once in the morning (I first check at 9:00AM) for critical emails. Then check again at about 10:30AM, 12:00PM, 1:30PM, and maybe 3:30PM and 4:30PM. I try to have four to five blocks of about ten minutes for email and to resist the temptation to check in between. Email is addictive and if you don’t batch it will rule your day. [Tweet this out]
4. BREAKS. And now for the most important time bomb – taking breaks. We are built to move and during the day short breaks are super important. Even a five minute “movement break” shifts your mental focus, wakes up the fat-eating enzyme Lipprotein lipase, and even opens up your creative thinking.
Start with a quick break about every 45 minutes to hour and then move up to every 20 minutes. You’ll be surprised by what a quick stand-up and stretch can do for productivity. Even better, leave your building/home and go for a 10 minute walk – it’s like getting a fresh start on the day!
And now guess what comes next?
Yup, you have to get started. If you are already doing some of these – great! If not, why not? The delusion of busy is a powerful drug that lures us into thinking we are more productive the more busy we are. Instead focus on results – that’s the goal, not being busy.
Enjoy and let me know which one YOU are using.
(grateful nod to Pat Flynn of smartpassiveincome.com for the title idea of this blog)
Photo credit: Flickr: BiblioArchives / LibraryArchives