“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that was given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michael Angelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” ― H. Jackson Brown Jr.
A lot of folks in our society try to be hyper-productive.
You know — the people who scurry from task to task, always checking e-mail, organizing something, making a call, running an errand, etc.
The people who do this often subscribe to the idea that “staying busy” means you’re working hard and are going to be more successful.
While this belief may be true to an extent, it often leads to mindless “productivity” — a constant need to do something and a tendency to waste time on menial tasks.
Instead of behaving in this way, we choose to do things differently.
Working Smarter, Not Harder
The old adage, “work smarter, not harder” has become a staple in the way we go about work of any kind.
Instead of being robotic in how we approach tasks, we try to be thoughtful and always ask ourselves if something can be done more efficiently or eliminated altogether.
Managing our time isn’t about squeezing as many tasks into our day as possible. It’s about simplifying how we work, doing things faster, and relieving stress.
It’s about clearing away space in our life to make time for people, play, and rest.
We promise you — there really are enough hours in a day for everything you’d like to do, but it may take a bit of rearranging and re-imagining to find them.
We compiled this list of 10 tips to hopefully nudge you in the right direction.
Remember: There are innumerable hacks and tricks to manage your time effectively. These are some tips that we find helpful, but everyone is different.
Let this list be a catalyst to get you thinking regularly about how to refine your own practices.
1. Complete most important tasks first.
This is the golden rule of time management. Each day, identify the two or three tasks that are the most crucial to complete and do those first.
Once you’re done, the day has already been a success. You can move on to other things, or you can let them wait until tomorrow. You’ve finished the essential.
2. Learn to say “no”.
Making a lot of time commitments can teach us how to juggle various engagements and manage our time. This can be a great thing.
However, you can easily take it too far. At some point, you need to learn to decline opportunities. Your objective should be to take on only those commitments that you know you have time for and that you truly care about.
3. Sleep at least 7-8 hours.
Some people think sacrificing sleep is a good way to hack productivity and wring a couple extra hours out of the day. This is not the case.
Most people need 7-8 hours of sleep for their bodies and minds to function optimally. You know if you’re getting enough. Listen to your body, and don’t underestimate the value of sleep.
4. Devote your entire focus to the task at hand.
Close out all other browser windows. Put your phone away, out of sight and on silent. Find a quiet place to work, or listen to some music if that helps you (I enjoy listening to classical or ambient music while writing sometimes).
Concentrate on this one task. Nothing else should exist. Immerse yourself in it.
5. Get an early start.
Nearly all of us are plagued by the impulse to procrastinate. It seems so easy, and you always manage to get it done eventually, so why not?
Take it from a recovering chronic procrastinator — it’s so much nicer and less stressful to get an earlier start on something. It isn’t that difficult either if you just decide firmly to do it.
6. Don’t allow unimportant details to drag you down.
We often allow projects to take much, much longer than they could by getting too hung up on small details. Most of us are guilty of this. We’ve always been perfectionists.
What I’ve found, though, is that it is possible to push past the desire to constantly examine what I’ve done so far. I’m much better off pressing onward, getting the bulk completed, and revising things afterward.
7. Turn key tasks into habits.
Writing is a regular task for me. I have to write all the time — for school, work, my student organization, my blog, etc. I probably write 5,000 – 7,000 words per week.
The amount of writing I do may seem like a lot to most people, but it’s very manageable for me because it’s habitual. I’ve made it a point to write something every day for a long time.
I rarely break this routine. Because of this, my mind is in the habit of doing the work of writing. It has become quite natural and enjoyable. Could you do something similar?
8. Exercise and eat healthily.
Numerous studies have linked a healthy lifestyle with work productivity. Similar to getting enough sleep, exercising and eating healthily boost energy levels, clear your mind, and allow you to focus more easily.
9. Create organizing systems.
Being organized saves tons of time, and you don’t have to be the most ultra-organized person in the world either. Systems aren’t complicated to implement.
Create a filing system for documents. Make sure all items have a place to be stored in your dwelling. Unsubscribe from e-mail lists if you don’t want to receive their content. Streamline, streamline, streamline.
10. One Last Tip (The Best One)
There’s one final tip I want to mention. If you remember one thing from this post, remember this:
Enjoyment should always be the goal. Work can be play.
We get so caught up in busyness that we forget to enjoy what we’re doing. Even when we focus on working smarter, we’re still often too focused on getting things done.
This should never be the point. Always ask yourself: What can I do to spend more time enjoying what I’m doing?
The goal should be to arrange your commitments in a way that you’re happy living out the details of your daily life, even while you’re working.
This may sound like a pipe dream, but it’s more possible than ever in today’s world. Be curious. Be open to opportunity. Know yourself. Embrace your passions.
Wonderful things will happen. Best of luck implementing these tips, and let us know your opinion in a comment below 🙂 .