I often try to do it all – build my business, eat healthy foods, stay fit, be social, take care of my home and loved ones, and be cheerful on top of it all. But that this can also come to a bad end, I unfortently experienced first-hand after having a complete and utter breakdown.
In the past I used to work 12- to 14-hour days, felt perpetually exhausted, and found it difficult to fully engage with my family and friends in the evenings, which left me feeling guilty and dissatisfied. I slept poorly, made no time to exercise, and seldom ate healthy meals, instead grabbing a bite to eat on the run or while working at my desk. But the worst was that at the end of another busy working day and, even though I came into the office early and left late, I did not feel as if I’ve accomplished anything significant! Faced with endless meetings, frequent interruptions, and urgent last-minute tasks, I could easily be busy all day without making any progress on high-priority projects and goals. And because I wasn’t willing to take a break, life knocked me on my ass (that’s the technical term) and forced me to rest and finaly (fortunetly!) to change my life!
Instead of try to squeeze more hours from the day. I realized that time management may not be the answer, and found finally out that managing my energy will make me more productive.
Time management is not a standalone skill. You cannot manage time, you can only manage how you use your time! And how you use your time should be driven by effective goal-setting. That’s why it’s so important to know how to schedule your time and energy properly. In this post, I will show few simple steps you can take to create a balanced-life, thereby making time for the work you love and that really matters, become more efficient and productive while still leaving time for personal development, family and friends.
#1 Set Clear & Achievable Goals
The most fundamental of time management skills is the ability to use your time in a manner which serves your goals.
When making decisions about what to focus your time on, you should always be cognisant of your goals and how each action is aimed at bringing you closer to achieving those goals. For faster results Break down your biggest goals into achievable!
#2 Protect Your Mornings
According Ron Friedman, a psychologist and author of, The Best Place to Work- The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace, the first three hours of your day are your most precious for maximized productivity.
“Typically, we have a window of about three hours where we’re really, really focused. We’re able to have some strong contributions in terms of planning, in terms of thinking, in terms of speaking well,” Friedman told Harvard Business Review.
So, your brain is most attuned first thing in the morning, and so are your energy levels. Consequently, the best time to do your best work is during the first three hours of your day. Meanwhile I can not understand how many people schedule things like meetings in the mornings. Nothing could be worse for peak performance and creativity. I try to schedule all of my meetings for the afternoon, after lunch.
And please –I Know that would be the most chalanging for most of you (for me as well!) -don’t check your social media or email until after your 3 hours of deep work!!! Your morning time should be spent on output, not input.
If you don’t protect your mornings, a million different things will take up your time. Other people will only respect you as much as you respect yourself. Protecting your mornings means you are literally unreachable during certain hours. (Only in case of serious emergency can you be summoned from your focus-cave)
#3 Block Your High-energy Hours
Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after thus designated productive time.
Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to your life’s goal!
#4 Focus On The Most Important Things
Regardless of what you are trying to do, there will always be something else competing for your attention. It’s not easy to shut everything out and focus on the task at hand. It is important to remember that no matter how many tasks need to be done, you can only work on one task in any given moment. The myth of multi-tasking causes many problems for those who wish to improve their time management but if you want to get results, you must learn to focus on one task at a time and block out all distractions.
Many people think that time management skills are all about getting more work done. That is not the case. Time management skills are about ensuring that you get the important work done. You could try to focus on getting more done but you end up rushing things and making mistakes. By the time you have rectified the mistakes (if it is possible to do so) you will have spent more time than if you’d taken your time and done the job properly.
#5 Learn To Set The Right Priorities
Prioritisation is one of the most misunderstood and misused of the time management skills. In the past I always tried to prioritise the items that were on my task list and it tooks me years to undurstand the right concept behind!
As strange as it may sound, prioritising should not begin with a focus on getting more work done. Prioritisation should always begin with avoiding/eliminating the tasks which you should not be performing!
Once this has been done, you can switch your focus to completing the most valuable work you can with the time and resources available to you. When you get it right, you will find that your time management improves rapidly and you will get more things done.
#6 Take breaks & Recharge Throughout The Day
Sure, we live in a fast “power through” culture but we need to take time throughout the day to recharge to be at our best.
Take a couple of short breaks and–if possible–leave your desk for lunch or at least for a quick walk once a day. It may feel like you don’t have time, but you’ll likely come back with additional focus and energy that may make up for the time you took.
If we really want to concentrate and be effective, 90 minutes is about how long our brains can stay focused, after that, we’re going to be less effective until we take a break. Taking regular breaks will help you to re-energize and recharge your energy and focus on the next task.
#7 Take A Power-Nap
I like to take a 15-20 minute power nap to boost my energy levels and can highly recommend it. Much like rebooting your PC when it becomes slow, a power nap can help reset your system. Famous UK Prime Ministers Sir Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher were both advocates of taking a nap during the day. And so too was Albert Einstein.
I know that even after reluctantly taking a power nap, I will come back refreshed, more cheerful and more creative — which puts me in an even better position to do my best work once I’m back at it.
#8 Get Your Sleep
Apart from a power nap, are you getting enough sleep? And how much is enough?
We’re all different. I e.g. need 8 hours of sleep so that I can function properly throughout the day. Others can maybe manage on less. The key is to make sure your body has the right amount of sleep so you can maintain your energy levels throughout the day.
#9 Exercise Your Body
Taking a more aggressive approach to exercise suits some people more than others. But you don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to benefit from physical exercise. Finding the type of exercise that works best for you can be very effective.
I’ve found it’s a great way for me to do yoga and get stretching, especially in the afternoon when I start to wane, and my muscles are stiff from sitting at the desk.
#10 Drink Plenty Of Water
Given that our bodies are 60% water it seems logical that we need to keep that level maintained. Several studies have shown that even mild dehydration can have a major effect on energy levels and brain function. I start my day with a glas of water with a bit lemon and try to drink around 2 liters each day to stay hydrated.
#11 Keep A Healthy Diet
Food plays an important part in maintaining our energy levels. Good nutrition is one of the keys to a healthy life. You can improve your health by keeping a balanced diet. You should eat foods that contain vitamins and minerals. This includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and a source of protein. But don´t eat too much during the day, if you eat too much and heavy food, then your body has to work harder to digest it and as a consequence, your energy levels drop.
#12 Reward Yourself Often
For every day that you make a massive to-do list, add a “reward” item at the end that brings you joy. Maybe it’s reading a book, a gossip magazine, or going out to dinner with a friend. For many of us, we only take breaks or celebrate when we hit the BIG goals — but those can take months to achieve. Instead, as already mention, break them down into smaller parts and reward yourself for all of the smaller milestones you hit along the way.
#13 Cut Out Negative Influences
Unfortunately, certain things in our lives can have a negative impact. These include both -people and activities. Some things only drain our energy.
I suggest taking some time to reflect on your life and list out the things that get you energized versus the things that make you feel drained. I do it on regular basis. Once you have identified the activities and people who are life-draining, then you have the opportunity to let them go.
For example, I barely watch TV (currently I have not even a TV at home!) -things like mainstream media present a disproportionate view of the negative to positive ratio of the world. Swap out these sorts of influences for ones that will inspire you.
#13 Clear Your Mind
Taking time to clear and focus your mind is a great way to revitalize your energy.
Often we can become so engrossed in an activity that we come to a point where we can’t think straight. Taking time away to switch off from the work task and focus on nourishing your mind can have a very positive effect I prefer to start the day with a 10-minute meditation session and end with reading few pages of a inspiring book. Spending just 15 to 20 minutes a day clarifying your mind will make a huge difference.
#14 Motivate Yourself
You will have days where you do not want to do anything. You may be sick, tired, bored or simply lacking motivation. On days like this, there is little that anyone else can do to get you going. You need to be able to motivate yourself to take action, even though you’d rather not. If you have improved your self-awareness, you will have a great deal of the information that you need to motivate yourself.
When I started to go down the path of the entrepreneur, I realized quickly that suddenly there was nobody standing over me to hold my accountable on a daily basis. I am totally responsible for my own results and I figured out that I can have all the other time management skills but if I lack the ability to motivate myself, I will soon experience large amounts of pressure and stress.
Stay focused. Stay Happy.
Until next time,