Each of us gets the same 24 hours in a day. The same 168 hours a week. 730 a month. That sounds like an awful lot of time…and yet, how well are we using it?
As I’ve added more to my professional plate (education, in-house negotiation work, consulting, Informed Style…) I’ve found that following the 3 guidelines below helps me accomplish more in the time I have.
Give them a try, and let me know how it goes -
1) Make a list
When you’re overwhelmed by the amount of work you have, and the timeframe you have to accomplish it, I suggest:
- make a to-do list to clear out your brain
- mark 2 items that are urgent
- mark 2 items that require the least work
- mark 2 items that you’re most excited about
Tackle one of the urgent items first to build momentum, then the 2 ‘quick’ items before launching into the 2nd urgent item. Alternating like this gives you a break from the intense, pressured work and helps build motivation. And those 2 items you were looking forward to? Treating those tasks like a reward for completing the other (less desireable) work can help you push through any doldrums.
2) Stop clock-watching
Clock-watching. It’s the professional equivalent of “are we there yet?” in the car. I recommend blocking off 1 hour work segments, but not setting any timers. Try and estimate how much work you’ll be able to achieve by the end of that hour, and check the clock only once you’ve gotten to that point in your project. I practice this in my downtime while reading – I usually predict how many pages I can read in an hour, and then only check my watch once I’m on that final page. It takes some willpower, but it gets you used to focusing on your work, rather than the minute hand of the clock.
3) Let it go
Some days, work will happen almost effortlessly. Your brain will make all the right connections in record time, and your fingers will fly across the keyboard. And some days, you’ll feel like Sisyphus, pushing that boulder up a hill. Ever. So. Slowly. When you’re dedicating time to a project and it just isn’t working, I suggest letting it go. Put it down, and step away. Move on to the next item on your to-do list. It’s far better to take that precious hour (or two, or three) and use it to accomplish something, rather than punish yourself by persisting at the same piece of work. Getting a few wins under your belt and filling up both your confidence and inspiration meters can help you come back to that task much better prepared to drive it to closure.
If you’re looking for an extra shot of motivation to get more done with your time, check out Meg Biram’s GSD (Getting Sh*t Done) series – seeing how other entrepreneurs squeeze more out of their days (and how stylishly they do it!) always gives me a boost.
How do you get more done with your 168 hours? Share your tips and tricks below!