Have you ever found yourself having more to do with no time left to do it? Desperate, you decide to sacrifice sleep, or spend less time with your loved ones in order to get things done, only to find yourself unfulfilled and burnt out because you have not accomplished anything. While time-management has already given rise to a whole library of books, we seem to be more in need of time-management now than ever before. Look no further.
What follows are five habits of some of the most highly productive people. I cannot promise a miracle, but I can guarantee you if emulate these habits, you will be more productive than ever before.
1. Begin with the end in mind
If you have read Stephen Covey’s bestselling book, “seven habits of the highly effective people”, you have certainly acquainted with this. There is nothing new here, but a mere reminder that you need to start each day with a clearly defined goal to be accomplished. “If you don’t know where you are going, then you probably won’t end up there.” was famously said by Forrest Gump. This quote exemplifies the importance of setting goals, sticking to them and seeing them through.
2. Stop spending major time on minor things
With the advent of smart devices, we find ourselves spending precious time online watching things that waste our time. Usually, we start watching these things with the best intention at heart, oftentimes we end up watching more than we were supposed to. Aristotle argued that too much (or too little) of a good thing is bad. I am not trying to make a case against smart devices, rather just want to remind you to use them in moderation.
Those times spent watching funny videos online will result in us blaming our unproductiveness on demanding bosses and high workload. If we are honest, we know it is hardly the case. According to the law of forced efficiency, there is always enough time to accomplish an important task. With that in mind, the next time you find yourself behind schedule, chances are you have been spending too much time on minor things.
“You will never find the time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.” – Charles Buxton
3. Know your Einstein window
A normal fact of life is that we feel energized and productive during certain times of the day, and even certain days of the week. The common reaction is to engage in self-pity, instead of beating yourself up when you seem to be unable to concentrate, try to understand your patterns. Know your Einstein Window.
Basically, the Albert Einstein Window is that time of the day when you are most likely to experience a state of flow. Learn about yourself and schedule your most important and challenging work during that time. Like most people, our energy waxes and wanes throughout the day. The best strategy is to recognize these patterns and schedule your work accordingly.
4. Control your inputs
Some of us do have goals. But somehow because of the nature of our work, we see ourselves stuck responding to an influx of never-ending tasks competing for our attention. The solution—Control your inputs. Emails and other Information and technology need to be used with moderation or else, we will find ourselves endlessly firefighting throughout the day without having accomplished anything.
Set a time to read emails, or other text messages. Set an automated email response and don’t accept any calls unless it is absolutely important. If you have no control over what gets your attention, you will not have control of how happy and accomplished you are at the end of the day.
5. Maintain two to-do lists
With the best intention at heart, you decide to plan your day, you create a well-structured to-do list, but somehow, you seem to never accomplish much. You keep carrying around the same to-do list you wrote for a month with the same tasks only partially completed. How do you go about solving this issue? Keep two to-do lists; One to-do list will contain long-term and midterm goals and a second one will contain tasks that you will need to accomplish that particular day.
Carrying a to-do list with a task that will take a month to complete every day will do nothing but subconsciously affect your ability to get things done. You may even end up accomplishing irrelevant tasks that will give you a false sense of accomplishment. The goal you accomplish may not be what you should have been doing in the first place. Be strategic.
“Success is never getting to the bottom of your to-do list.” – Marissa Mayer
These are the five major time-management principles that I have learned from some of the busiest, yet most productive people in the world. Managing your time well, will give you a sense of fulfillment that will in return increase your wellbeing. After all, who wouldn’t like to have more time to spend with their loved ones or have more fun?