It's a common theme for most people that they do not have enough time. That they are maxed and can't keep up with everything they have going on. They are just too busy.
I've found this is simply not true. Most people have way more productive capacity that they realize - they are just not structured well enough to take advantage of it in their lives. I've written before about how structure = freedom. I know that sounds contradictory, but the more structure you have in your day to day, the more freedom you can create for yourself.
For example, most people go through their day without any real plan just reacting to what comes up in their lives and work. They have all these tasks they think they need to do "in their head" and at the end of the day after all the distractions and things that they let steal their time, they are exhasuted and frustrated because they "worked hard, but feel like they didn't get anything done." This happens because they are have ceded control to everything around them and not taken control and put structure in place to keep them focused and get things done.
Now, imagine if they started the day knowing exactly what they had to, their top priorities and had clear deadlines to get them done. And they knew, if they got them done early, they could take the rest of the day to do whatever they wanted? Sounds pretty good right. They accomplish all their tasks and free themselves up to go enjoy the rest of the day. That is what structure brings.
They are a few key components to have a good structure. First is to set aside time each day where you can focus un-interrupted on your most important tasks. During these times, you eliminate distractions - no meetings, no phone calls, turn off IM, etc. You can also block these times on your calendar if you share it with others to make sure they cannot steal your time. Second, plan your week. Each week before the week starts, take 20 minutes to go through each day for the upcoming week and plan out what needs done. You can list the meetings or events you have and then build in the other tasks you need to do each day in your blocked times. Third, at the end of each day, take 5-10 mins to see if you were able to get your priorities for that day completed and to adjust anything for the next day to make sure you are getting everything done. You may find on many days that you are so productive that you can get ahead and work on the next day's priorities and tasks - and still be done early. That is one of the benefits of having a good structure.
Don't think this will work for you or that you don't have enough time in your schedule for everything? Try this simple exercise. For one week - just one week - track what you do for every hour of each day. If you do this, you will be amazed at how much time is wasted and how much opportunity you have. It will also help you understand where you waste the most time and allow you to make changes so you can be more productive.
As H. Jackson Brown Jr. said, "Don't say you don't have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein."
Remember, structure = freedom!
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