One thing common amongst busy professionals is they all wish they could have more time.
The reality is we all get the same twenty-four hours each day. How we use our time determines how much we accomplish and how productive we are.
Most times, it’s the small incremental improvements that will add up to major benefits over a period of time. Rather than making dramatic changes to how we operate each day, it’s helpful to look at how we’re currently spending our time and look for opportunities to improve, no matter how small they are.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt is that our time is always allocated to something. Whether we use it wisely or not, time will not stop for us. While we can never get more time, we can be more intentional about how we spend our time.
All we have to do is to ask ourselves, “What am I spending my time on every day?”
I remember when I had a management role during my corporate career, one of the biggest challenges I had, was managing my priorities while ensuring key business objectives were being met. Having many things to attend to each day like employee safely, staff attendance, customer orders, delivery schedules, quality performance, inventory levels and machine efficiencies, I struggled to keep up.
Sometimes when we’re facing a challenge, it’s difficult to stop and look at what we’re actually doing and how we’re contributing to our situation. When I asked myself, “What am I actually doing every day?” I quickly realised the majority of my time was taken up attending to other people’s issues.
My direct reports were constantly interrupting me with day-to-day issues and they all started with the question, “Have you got a minute?” Those conversations never took just a minute. They would go for ten to fifteen minutes. Those constant interruptions were affecting my focus and productivity, which meant I wasn’t getting my highest priority work done.
The solution I implemented was to have a daily “morning huddle” which lasted only ten minutes, where my direct reports provided an update and also asked questions they needed to. Then after lunch, we also had a quick “check-in” to ensure any urgent issues were communicated and addressed.
The results were staggering. Not only was I more effective, my direct reports applied a similar strategy with their teams, which resulted in better efficiencies across all departments. That translated in major time saving every day, which ultimately affected the company’s bottom-line results in a positive way. By being better with our time, we were able to become a more profitable business.
Common Mistakes People Make With Their Time
Surprisingly, to gain more time, we can make simple changes to what we do and how we do them daily. Here are five things to be aware of that may be costing you time every day. Once you can improve these things, you’ll automatically get back more time each day.
- Tackling too many things at once. This is common for busy professionals or business owners. The more responsibility we have, the more things we have to attend to. The problem is, if we attempt too many things at once, also known as multitasking, we’re not focused and are constantly distracted, which means our flow or concentration levels are affected. We must learn to focus on one thing at a time.
- Engaging in activities that does not lead to an outcome. One of my pet hates is having conversations just for the sake of having a conversation. That’s an example of an activity I rarely engage in. Everything we do should move us forward. Our activities must be linked back to an objective or goal.
- Letting how you feel dictate what you do. There will be days when we’re not feeling our best. If we let those days dictate how much we get done, we’ll not be as productive as we can be consistently. This is why being self-motivated is critical to our success. We cannot let those down-days slows us down or prevent us from making progress.
- Not being intentional each day. The more intentional we are, the better our results will be. Being intentional can come down to setting milestones daily. It can also mean setting boundaries like saying “no” to other people’s requests, or being tempted to do something that isn’t on the plan for the day. The clearer we are about what our priorities are, the better we’ll use our time.
- Not taking time to stop and enjoy what you are doing. It’s easy to continually be “on-the-go” and not take time to pause and reflect on what we’re actually doing. When we don’t give ourselves breaks throughout our day, we become less productive, which means things can take longer than normal to get done. Having regular breaks will save us time over the long run.
The good thing is we can become a lot better with how we use our time by eliminating certain things daily. While they may seem small or insignificant, if we consistently implement these changes, we’ll see a dramatic improvement in our results.
If we’re not willing to address these mistakes, we’ll continue to achieve results at the same level as we currently are. It makes sense to address these things now.
Action Step: Take around 15-20 minutes to answer this question; “What am I spending my time on every day?” The answers to that question will reveal to you where you can make improvements to gain additional time daily.
Question: What is another mistake people make with their time every day?