Time is the great equalizer. We all get the same amount — the only difference is how we use it. Some get right down to business, managing to squeeze an amazing amount of work into a small amount of time while others fritter away hours on unimportant tasks and time wasters, never really getting past the first to-do on the list.
The challenge is staying on task while remaining flexible enough to actually have a life, how to master your tasks without over scheduling yourself to the point that you feel overwhelmed and overloaded. Easier said than done.
How to Take Control of Your Time
#1: Know Thy Self — Are you a Rise and Shiner or a Slow Starter? The answer to that question will determine if you need to jump right into your work day or schedule a bit of me-time to ease into the day. Rise and Shiners will benefit from getting right down to it first thing in the morning (sometimes even before the wake-up shower and cup of coffee) while Slow Starters do well starting off with a brisk walk or morning run to get their mojo going.
#2: Stop Overscheduling — It’s tempting to slot those meeting requests into back-to-back-to-back work blocks in your calendar with barely enough time for a pee break in between. Don’t. Not only do you jeopardize your own sanity, but by doing so, you run the risk of one extended meeting derailing your entire day, which only adds to your stress and frustration. Create a maximum number of meeting slots in your calendar template and when those are full, push new requests into the next week.
#3: Get Actual Stuff Done — Now that you aren’t filling up your entire calendar with meetings that will likely increase your workload rather than decrease it, you have time to start checking stuff off your to-do list. Figure out which tasks are your main priority and focus on getting those done before tackling anything new. It may mean that your desk stays messy a few extra days, but nothing beats getting to the end of your week and looking at a much smaller to-do list.
#4: Build in a Little Extra Slack — What else do you want to do with your time? Workout? Read a book? Enjoy a quiet tea break? Don’t forget to include time in your schedule for a little slack time. In a perfect world, your slack time would be exclusively for your personal self-care, but in a pinch, it can be an extra work block for those surprise deadlines or the time you realistically need to handle those unexpected family crises.
#5: Clock Out — Just as you need scheduled work blocks and slack time, you need schedule downtime. Consider that non-negotiable time that you reserve exclusively for your personal life. That means turning it all off until you clock back in. It’s truly the secret to not becoming a slave to your schedule and running your business instead of letting your business run you.