There is a distinct difference between a true lack of time and a perceived lack of time. –Michelle Cleere, Real Simple Magazine February 2013.
Unplug or set limits to your screen time.
I’d noticed recently that when I came home from work, I sat down in front of the TV and stayed there for hours. Every night. And I was even more exhausted after these types of evenings. So I made a decision to turn off the TV, my phone, the computer–everything–unless there was something that I really wanted to watch. Now I feel more free and able to do the things I want to do.
When I try to load the dishwasher while making dinner and getting the kids snacks, it seems like nothing gets done well, if at all. Now, I try to focus on the most important (or the task that will “do itself” first). First, I get the kids snacks, then I load the dishwasher so it can be washing while I make dinner. All three things get done and I’m more effective.
Write it down.
I know I can’t remember anything because at work and at home, I have many people who are constantly vying for my attention. This leaves little room for me to focus on my own tasks–unless I write them down and work on them during less busy times. I’ve found that the more I write down to do, the more effective I am, because it all gets done and my mind is clear for the others in my life.
Balance: leave work at work and home at home.
In 2003, when I first started working as a retail store manager, I brought my work home with me every night and my days off. Because of this, I never felt like I had a break from work and burned out very quickly. I had an important conversation with my supervisor and we both agreed my life needed more balance. I quickly adjusted my tasks to ensure that I could leave work at work. And guess what, the work still got done on time and to expectations (ok, you know me. Ahead of time and exceeding expectations). Plus, I had days off and was more rested and a better manager when I was at work. It was a difficult lesson to learn, but I’ve held fast to my standards and it’s served me well for a decade.
Learn to say no.
I found this quote a few years ago and have it taped to computer:
“We should cultivate the ability to say no to activities for which we have no time, no talent, and which we have no interest or real concern. If we learn to say no to many things, then we will be able to say yes to the things that matter most. ” –Roy Blauss
By learning to say no, you become more able to say yes to the things that you want to do, the things that you like to do and the things that you can do. Learn to say no. It’s gets easier with practice.
Focus on what’s important.
Make it a point to do things that matter. You have dirty dishes and the kids want to play a game with you? The dishes can wait. You’ll remember time spent with your kids and so will they. These are the things that matter.
Know when you are at your best.
I’ve learned that if you want me at my best, you’d better catch me in the morning. I’ve always been an early bird. It’s why I wake up early to run, why I get into the office early and why I do all of my big tasks first and/or before lunch. As the day wears on, I tend to lose my effectiveness. And the closer to bedtime that I need to do something, the less likely I’ll be able to do it. Knowing what time of day you’re most effective will help you accomplish tasks more effectively.